Bush campaign stop good for business

Friday, October 15, 2004

Business Today

POPLAR BLUFF -- When President George W. Bush visited Poplar Bluff on Labor Day, cash registers clanged. The impact it had on the city's economy was a positive one.

Those who worked on that holiday, whether it was serving steak to a member of the Secret Service or selling a rain-resistant plastic poncho to one of the nearly 30,000 attendees, agree the overall mood of people was a pleasurable experience.

Hotels and motels, for the most part, were already sold out. But with the presidential visit, any vacancies were quickly snatched up.

Comfort Inn owner Herman Styles said that although his hotel had been booked for the weekend, at the last minute about 10 rooms became available because part of a family reunion block canceled. This gave Styles the chance to rent those rooms to the Secret Service, presidential staff and media.

Styles also said that while his hotel was bustling with the president's staff, he overheard several complimenting Poplar Bluff -- its citizens, its workers and their overall accommodating attitudes.

Styles, who also owns Colton's Steak House, said his restaurant saw about an additional 10 percent in actual revenue, considering it was a holiday weekend and most of the other restaurants in town were closed.

"I saw as many as 100 people come in from out of town wearing Bush buttons and hats. They were excited to be here and complimentary of Poplar Bluff," Styles remembered. "We had people from Sikeston, West Plains, Paragould. It was good exposure for Colton's.

But it wasn't just hotels and restaurants that felt the enthusiasm and gratitude on the day the president came to town.

Event coordinator Robbie Myers said the city's cost (for things like street cleanup, transportation service, police overtime salaries, etc.) is being reimbursed by the Republican National Committee.

"So in that sense, we are not only going to break even, but we are ahead," Myers explained. "Then with literally thousands and thousands of people coming from outside Butler County, eating at our restaurants, buying gas, spending money at our local convenience stores -- the short-term effects are tremendous. It was Christmas in September, if you will."

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