Commuters brace for convention |

Commuters brace for convention

Catherine Tsai
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Evolution salon near Colorado’s state Capitol considered closing during the Democratic National Convention when customers balked at making appointments those days.

“They’d say, ‘I don’t even want to deal,'” said Evolution owner Jonelle Eilers. But there were just enough clients who did want appointments for four of the salon’s 10 employees to work during the convention, Eilers said.

Some downtown workers are taking public transportation, working from home, working different hours, or not working at all during the Monday-through-Thursday event, when crowds and road closures are expected. But for many, it will be business as usual.

Mayor John Hickenlooper has said residents and workers will be able to get around “with ease.” The Downtown Denver Partnership Inc. estimates roughly 110,000 people work downtown. And the bar at the Magnolia Hotel is encouraging downtown workers to stick around with $1 draft beer for those showing business cards proving they work there.

The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University estimated that 32 percent of Boston commuters decided not to commute during the 2004 Democratic convention, producing a loss of $7.5 million in spending by those commuters. No productivity was lost because enough businesses adjusted work schedules or closed, and a large number of workers telecommuted or went on vacation, the institute found.

A.J. Zabbia, president of 68West Engineering Inc., expects some of his seven employees to ride bikes to work. “I’m not expecting any disruptions. I think it’ll be a nice quiet week to get work done,” he said.

Citrix Online did not release specific numbers but said it has noticed an uptick in registrants and users in the Denver area for its services, which allow users to access their office computers from home and hold online meetings. It is offering 45 days of free service around Denver and St. Paul, Minn., which is hosting the Republican National Convention.

“We’re evolving from telecommuting, which is just voice,” said Bernardo de Albergaria, general manager of global marketing and e-commerce for Citrix Online. “With this phenomenon of Web commuting due to Web-enabled technology, people are able to work from anywhere.”

Only seven of the 15 employees at concert company Live Nation Inc.’s downtown office plan to work there next week because of limited parking. Some will work from other Live Nation spots in Denver.

Marketing firm Red Robot is allowing employees of other companies who are in town for the convention to use Red Robot’s office, wireless Internet service, phones, restrooms and refrigerator, which will be stocked with beer and energy drinks.

Red Robot is doing it for free to network. CEO Tom Flanagan said he expects a rock band manager, a Hollywood public relations firm and a party planning company to use Red Robot offices.

“We want people to know how friendly Denver is,” he said. “We’re not in it for the fast buck.”

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