Maryann Ferenc has some sympathy for frustrated Tampa area businesses who've yet to get some from the RNC

"Everybody is not going to be able to participate," Ferenc says, referring to the businesses listed in the Small Business Directory. But she knows first hand that the host committee has been aggressive in getting the word out to those who will need services in Tampa for the convention.

And she adds that, if a business wanted to be a part of the convention, it should have been doing due diligence months ago, if not earlier than that, by becoming engaged with one or more of the agencies that promote tourism in Tampa Bay, such as the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa Downtown Partnership or Tampa Bay and Company.

"Getting engaged in the process is going to help your business, and that's something as any good businessperson you need to be doing. You need to be looking down the road and saying, 'How do I position myself?'"

Ferenc says it's crucial for business leaders to network, and says all of the above-mentioned agencies are doing a good job of providing platforms for local businesses.

"Then it's up to being your own savvy little marketer, putting yourself out there all the time," she adds.

Ferenc had been involved in many community events regarding the RNC, but she's having to curtail some of that work to concentrate on her main concern, Mise en Place, which as one of Tampa's most lauded restaurants will be very busy when the convention hits in late August.

"I said today that everybody must support our director of catering, Ann Frechette, all summer," Ferenc told CL last Wednesday. "She has officially become the busiest person in our company," she says, surpassing even Ferenc's own intense schedule.

With some of corporate America's heaviest hitters coming to town in August, Ferenc believes that local business proprietors still have the opportunity to get the word out about their product or service.

"Whether it?s because you run into somebody on the street who?s here for the convention and you treat him nicely, or because we do a really job for a client, for an event, that is where the real value of this convention lies," she says. "Those real-life experiences are what people will take back into their communities and into their companies and into their Chambers, and into their CVBs [Convention & Visitors Bureaus] where decisions are made about where to spend their money, where they?ll travel or where they?re considering having a second location or an arm of their business, and when they say, 'It was
so great in Tampa, those people are so professional...that wasn't my image before I went there, but they blew us away.' That?s how we?ll gain long-term business out of this convention."

  • Mise en Place co-owner Maryann Ferenc

As the proprietor of Mise en Place restaurant, the Sono Café at Tampa Museum of Art, and now First Flight, the wine bar at Tampa International airport, Maryann Ferenc is a busy woman. Add the fact that she serves on a slew of different boards having to do with tourism, and oh yes, she's also on the host committee for this summer's Republican National Convention, and well, you get the idea.

Last week CL's Kate Feldman reported that several local businesses, all part of the RNC's Small Business Network, have complained that they're seeing no action businesswise, some 80 days before the big event hits the Cigar City. But Matt Becker with the RNC's Committee on Arrangements says it's up to those businesses to get their act together.

Ferenc understands the complaints — up to a point — as she told CL recently.

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