Orlando Business Journal’s Anjali Fluker asked  John Dowless about Jon Huntsman’s Presidential campaign headquarters & its impact on Orange County.

Former Utah governor’s 2012 team forms at Citrus Center

Premium content from Orlando Business Journal – by Anjali Fluker, Staff
Date: Friday, June 24, 2011, 6:00am EDT

Downtown Orlando’s Citrus Center building will get a little busier starting this month.

Former two-term Utah Republican governor and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who on June 21 announced his run for president in 2012, debuted his Orlando national campaign headquarters on June 23.

He’s expected to bring a team of about 25 workers into the local economy.

The campaign team on June 10 signed an 18-month lease for the 17,000-square-foot sixth floor of the Citrus Center on Orange Avenue space that had been empty for nearly two years. Damien Madsen, a tenant representative with Orlando-based real estate brokerage Morrison Commercial Real Estate, represented the campaign office in the lease deal. Parkway Properties Inc. (NYSE: PKY) is the landlord.

Susie Wiles, a Jacksonville political consultant and Huntsman’s campaign manager, said the office may start small, but is expected to grow as Huntsman gets further into the campaign. About 10 workers already moved into the downtown office by June 20. The office was furnished by Lake Mary-based Florida Business Interiors Inc., and campaign workers are expected to rent homes in two locations: apartments at 55 West on West Church Street and single-family homes in the Thornton Park area.

Additionally, the office ‹ Florida’s first national presidential campaign headquarters ‹ is expected to draw plenty of bigwigs, said Orlando political consultant John Dowless, president of Millennium Consulting Inc. The campaign office will house the campaign manager, several finance directors and political directors, along with campaign workers, and will host visits from campaign directors from other states, political consultants, media  consultants, pollsters and more.

Though he didn’t have any figures on estimated economic impact, Dowless said it could be in the millions of dollars.

“Presidential campaigns involve lots of travel, so you definitely will add hundreds if not eventually thousands of trips out of Orlando International Airport, Dowless said. “It typically brings quite a nice boost to a local economy.”

Huntsman was unavailable for comment, but his reasons for choosing Orlando as his campaign headquarters ranged from his wife growing up in Orlando to the airport having a number of direct flights to major cities nationwide,
sources said. Florida also is an important state in the 2012 election run, with the Republican National Convention taking place in Tampa.

What this means to you more business for downtown-area restaurants, retailers, hoteliers and
other companies.

Opportunities for event planners, venues and caterers to service political events and fundraisers.

A possible need for transportation to and from airports and event locations.

Post Author: johnd