Companies with suburban ties part of historic national conventions
Patrick Zimmerman, a 39-year veteran of AT&T Inc., and his team have been working in recent months to upgrade the AT&T network in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Republican National Convention.
That's because the wireless network anticipated a heavier load with roughly 100,000 visitors converging for the convention this past week. They all are expecting seamless connectivity with their smartphones and devices.
Zimmerman's colleagues also are doing similar upgrades in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, which begins this week. Both cities will keep the upgrades in place long after the conventions leave town.
"That's our legacy that we are leaving behind," said Zimmerman, AT&T area vice president of program management and national conventions.
While such upgrades may be a legacy from one company, others with distinct Chicago suburban connections will be contributing to these historic events. Area companies also will be providing sponsorship and other services for the conventions.
Besides AT&T with its Midwest headquarters in Hoffman Estates, other companies that are involved include Verizon Wireless, with its Great Lakes headquarters in Schaumburg; Motorola Solutions in Schaumburg, Walgreens Boots Alliance in Deerfield and AgencyEA, an event branding firm in Chicago with suburban leaders.
"It's been inspiring to see all the different teams coming together to make this convention the best," said Mike Katra, AT&T area manager of network engineering who is in Pennsylvania working on the DNC.
Also, Verizon Wireless upgraded its network around each of the convention venues and other sites in both cities, said Steve Van Dinter, a spokesman for the wireless provider.
"We had to think five to 10 steps ahead to make sure people had what they needed to communicate there. It took a lot of advanced planning. It's not just more 4G anymore, it's more like 4.5G," said Van Dinter.
Motorola Solutions said it has been providing extra support to its clients, such as police and fire departments in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Motorola makes and distributes wearable technology, such as cameras, walkie-talkie devices and other communication equipment so various departments can more quickly talk to each other when needed during emergencies.
"Our focus is on supporting our public safety customers in the cities where the conventions are taking place," said Motorola spokeswoman Tama McWhinney.
While a sponsor in the past, Motorola Solutions this time decided not to sponsor either convention.
"The decision was made months ago based on budget considerations," she said.
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However, Walgreens said it will continue to sponsor the conventions, just as it has in the past, said Walgreens spokeswoman Emily Hartwig-Mekstan.
"Like hundreds of companies across America and many here in Chicago, we understand the importance of playing an active role in the political process, including participation in events such as both national conventions," said Hartwig-Mekstan.
Chicago-based AgencyEA worked with the DNC to provide more than 150 types of credentials and badges with special designs. The badges also indicate the level of security clearance for each person, said Rick Cosgrove, creative director and a Park Ridge resident.
Cosgrove could not reveal what the badges look like before the Democratic convention due to security reasons,
"It's been exciting being a part of this historic convention, where thousands of people are going to attend," Cosgrove said. "And these badges are going to be kept as artifacts and become a part of history."