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Why the DNC is no problem for Philadelphia businesses

PHILADELPHIA — Hosting an event of the magnitude of the Democratic National Convention may be overwhelming for some cities' businesses, but not for this city's merchants.

The city should be able to manage the amount of people coming in since it's used to hosting other large events, such as the Army-Navy college football game, said Matt Cabrey, executive director at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Thus, the DNC should provide local businesses with a bump, but only a small one, he said.

"We want to manage expectations," Cabrey said. "This is significant, but it's not overly huge."

Nearly 50,000 people are expected to attend the DNC, according to its website. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau said in a report it expects the convention to bring in between $250 million and $300 million.

Small businesses in Philadelphia prepare for an uptick in business this week as the DNC comes to town.
Fred Imbert | CNBC
Small businesses in Philadelphia prepare for an uptick in business this week as the DNC comes to town.

That said, the 2000 Republican National Convention ― also held in Philadelphia ― brought in a total of $345 million, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. In today's dollars, adjusted for inflation, that figure rises to more than $482 million.

David Song, owner of a restaurant named Bop, located on one of the city's main roads, said he expects business to increase significantly, however.

"They are expecting quite a few people coming into the city, so we are definitely expecting an influx of business. We've already booked a private party tonight," Song said, adding that he thinks other restaurants and businesses should also get a bump this week.

Anthony Gramm, owner of Kosmo, a pizza place near Song's Bop, was not so sure.

"I hope," he said. "I hired extra people, I ordered extra stuff," he said. "After the pope disaster, I'm not keeping my hopes up."

Last year, Pope Francis visited Philadelphia and, while city officials sold it as an opportunity for local business owners, it turned out to be the opposite because "they completely shut down the city," Gramm said.