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Tampa's small businesses enjoy convention boost

What kind of boost do local businesses get from major political conventions nearby?

The Republican National Convention is back on track today, with tens of thousands of visitors in Tampa. So what kind of boost do the businesses of the Tampa Bay area get? The city's welcoming committee published a small business directory, so we made some phone calls and found Sabor a Cuba. It's a local cigar-rolling business based in the Tampa community of Dunedin. 

Tily Noya does marketing for Sabor a Cuba and she's been busy booking events this week. Noya says, "Cigars are kind of like a little perk, and those kind of perks have dwindled quite a bit. So this has been a very good shot in the arm for us."

So how much would a large, high-end private party with cigars set you back? "That would probably run you under $1,000," says Noya. She says Sabor a Cuba uses a tobacco blend from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua -- and a tobacco wrapper from an area that might be unexpected.

Kai Ryssdal: The Republican National Convention is back on track today. Ann Romney speaks tonight. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as well. There'll be other speeches, of course -- parties, gatherings, politicking of all kinds. Which translates inevitably into a boon for businesses in Tampa Bay.

The welcoming committee down there published a small business directory for its visitors. So we did some calling around to find out what kind of boost 50,000 convention-goers can bring, and we found Sabor a Cuba, a cigar-rolling company Dunedin, Fla. Tily Noya does marketing for them. Tily, good to talk to you.

Tily Noya: Good to talk with you, Kai.

Ryssdal: How's business? I mean, are the Republicans keeping you busy?

Noya: Yes sir. Business, as far as cigars go, has been very, very slow. Cigars are kind of not a necessity; they're kind of a little perk that you would have at a private event or a corporate event. And those kind of perks have been dwindled quite a bit, so this has been a very good shot in the arm for us as far as business is concerned, having the RNC here.

Ryssdal: So if I wanted to have you come and roll some cigars for me at my event, how much would that cost me?

Noya: Well, we have different packages. Like if you wanted private labels on your cigars with your name on them, we do all that kind of stuff.

Ryssdal: Yeah no, I totally want high-end for 100 people, and for two hours.

Noya: And how many cigars?

Ryssdal: One apiece.

Noya: One apiece.

Ryssdal: Does that make sense?

Noya: That would probably run you under $1,000.

Ryssdal: Under $1,000? OK.

Noya: Yeah. No more than $600.

Ryssdal: Wow. What kind of tobacco, what kind of cigars do you guys roll? Is it premium leaf or something like that? I don't even know the jargon.

Noya: We use a blend of Dominican Republic, we use some from Nicaragua, from Honduras. And the wrapper, we prefer to use Connecticut, which is one of the best.

Ryssdal: I'm sorry, Connecticut, as in Connecticut, the Nutmeg State Connecticut?

Noya: Yes. If you ever go to Connecticut, look for the tobacco plantation. They're there.

Ryssdal: I didn't know they grew tobacco in Connecticut.

Noya: Yes they do, and it's actually one of the best wrappers. It's actually the only tobacco grown in the States that can be used for cigars.

Ryssdal: Wow, who knew?

Noya: Yeah see, you learn something new everyday, Kai.

Ryssdal: Yes I do. Tily Noya, she's at the cigar rolling company called Sabor a Cuba.

Noya: Sabor a Cuba.

Ryssdal: Sabor a Cuba, see I got it wrong. Sabor a Cuba.

Noya: That means it tastes like Cuba.

Ryssdal: Well there you go. Tily, thank you so much.

Noya: Thank you Kai, it was great talking to you.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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