Business as Unusual

Hosting a convention can be a big boost to a city — one estimate says the Dems may have brought Denver $200 million in economic activity. But it can be a headache too. Traffic snarls travel — in Denver, two major arteries near the proceedings were shut down for the better part of three days, and St. Paul is warning of headaches as well — and security precautions abound: Among other safety precautions, St. Paul has shut down some freeway exits and set up a $3.4 million surveillance-camera network.

That can be a big hassle for businesses outside the hospitality industry, but some companies find ways to adapt.

Take Travelers Cos., the insurance giant headquartered near the convention's main venue. It's turning the clock back: Ordinarily up and running from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the corporate office will instead open at 5 a.m. and wind down at 2 p.m. each day Monday through Thursday. The company has also asked out-of-town employees to avoid traveling to the Twin Cities during the convention. Other businesses are telling workers to just stay home (but to keep working from there, in some cases), CBS affiliate WCCO-TV reports.

Hospitals and the court system, by contrast, are gearing up, in case protests get out of hand. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Salon report that the police have already gotten busy, raiding six buildings and detaining scores of people, in what police called preventative and activists called an excessive show of force.

Meantime, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports that the world's oldest profession expects to boom, though police are skeptical. Nothing specific to the GOP, one prostitute tells the paper. "Any convention. The science convention, maybe not, but the medical convention — it's just you're going to be making more money."

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