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Democratic National Convention Host Official: 'We Will Be Ready'

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is nine months away, but people around Milwaukee are eager to learn what it might mean for the city. The anticipation was felt Thursday night when about 300 people filed into a UWM ballroom to listen to a panel of experts talk about the DNC's possible impacts. 

It turns out that Milwaukee residents are curious about a variety of topics, including job opportunities for the unemployed and chances to volunteer with the DNC. But across the board, the sentiment surrounding the convention was positive.

The convention could bring 50,000 people to Milwaukee. But Shorewood resident Karen Dean isn't worried about that.

“No. I love it. I think it's great. Traffic will be a bear, but who cares? It will be great exposure to our city," she said.

The enthusiasm was echoed by all four panelists. Whether it was issues of security, diversity and inclusivity, or if there will be enough hotel rooms — it was all met with resounding optimism.

Dave Larson, senior director of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, says that one of the major tasks before the host committee is informing the public of what exactly to expect. He emphasizes that "there will be no cruise ship parked on Lake Michigan. Long story short, we will be ready for this convention."

Larson postulated that the Host Committee wants to make this "an event that isn't just in Milwaukee. It's about Milwaukee and it's for Milwaukee."

But a convention that is for Milwaukee means participation from a diverse cadre of business owners, volunteers, and workers. That’s according to Lafayette Crump, the vice president of diversity, vendor accountability and growth for the Host Committee.

Crump believes the city will see more opportunity for diverse workers beyond the convention's timeline.

"I know that this is going to have an impact beyond the $200 million economic impact that we always talk about. That is going to continue for many years to come," he said.

However, in order to get participation and buy-in from all Milwaukeeans, more outreach may need to happen. That's a concern raised by Biltu Hamda. 

"I was hoping to see a younger demographic of people come out and show support here. I am probably the youngest person here. I'm not really sure," Hamda said. "It’s at UWM. You would think students would come out."

The panel was hosted by the UWM Alumni Association for their Master Chats Series.

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