CINCINNATI — Most large-scale gatherings like festivals and conferences are now canceled or postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
This week, Cincinnati-based Pure Romance announced it was putting its annual conference on hold. That conference normally brings thousands of people and millions of dollars to the Tri-State.
“That was as strong as it had ever been and then you pull the rug out from underneath everyone and I would say that what we are getting into right now will be telling,” Cincinnati Regional Chamber president and CEO Jill Meyer said.
Meyer said we don’t know just how much COVID-19 could impact our local economy, but we’re beginning to see its effects. Weeks ago, Cincinnati was preparing to welcome in several large-scale events that would normally boost local businesses.
In March, the regional chamber projected that local small businesses would need over $250 million over 90 days to get back on track.
“There is a workstream of people involved in all aspects of arts, culture, social gatherings, festivals, sports leagues, all of those moving pieces,” Meyer said. “They are all meeting regularly to get some best practices and to try and figure out how to get through this together.”
Pure Romance’s annual conference brings in an estimated $3.5 million – money the city won’t see as the company gathering goes virtual this year.
“I think the biggest thing is we have 3,000 people that were getting ready to come in here,” Pure Romance president and CEO Chris Cicchinelli said about the decision to cancel the convention. “3,000 moms, 3,000 breadwinners that are coming into Cincinnati from five different countries and our biggest thing is the safety.”
The company’s plan isn’t to stay remote forever.
“This year we’re going to do a virtual conference,” Cicchinelli said. “But we want to get back to seeing each other. We want to get back to our community. We want to get back to our relationships.”
Pure Romance plans to host the annual conference, along with a number of other events in person across the country, starting in spring 2021.