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Charlotte vs. Tampa

Charlotte vs. Tampa
National political conventions might not actually decide party nominees anymore, but the events spotlight their respective cities. In that spirit, JLL analysts Ross Howard of Charlotte and Stephen Siena of Tampa recently did a report comparing the two cities' economies. In the spirit of Bisnow inquiry, we asked them how the cities compare as CRE markets.
Time Warner Cable Arena
As Charlotte prepares for the arrival of the DNC at the Time Warner Cable Arena, its various strengths as a CRE market will indeed be on display, Ross tells us, adding that the city managed to grow in population during the recession. People want to live here and businesses want to do business here. A site-selection plus for the city is the availability of high-quality office space at competitive rental rates, which is a draw for companies in most sectors. Office vacancy rates are already tightening from recessionary highs, Ross adds. The market is gaining momentum.
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Tampa Bay Times Forum
Above, Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of the RNC in August, which the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning calls home (not at the same time though, it would be tough for Romney to give a speech while Martin St. Louis was firing pucks). Stephen tells us the greatest strengths of the area's office market are US demographic trends. Namely, the country's aging population is driving a demand for healthcare services, and many healthcare companies are expanding their back-office operations in the Tampa Bay area.
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Charlotte Bobcats
What's going to be the economic impact  of the convention itself on Charlotte? Civic enthusiasts have bandied around estimates of $150M to $200M in impact from the DNC, citing construction projects, spending on retail and hotels by visitors, and the multiplier effect of all that spending, plus intangible publicity benefits. (Such cachet has been known to influence CRE investors, especially overseas ones who might never have heard of the place otherwise.) On the other hand, convention skeptics point out that conventions cost cities money through direct costs—security and the like—as well as by encouraging residents to go elsewhere during the event, or at least stay home, so the above figure might be grossly overstated. Regular home games by the Bobcats might be a better bet for economic impact, provided they could win more often.