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Downtown Prepares For BIO 2001, Shop Owners Hope For Business Boost

by The San Diego Channel (reposted by SD IMC) Sunday, Jun. 24, 2001 at 1:02 PM

SAN DIEGO, 7:14 p.m. PDT June 22, 2001 -- Residents and shop owners in the Gaslamp Quarter are preparing for the coming BIO 2001 convention, 10News reported.

Downtown Prepares For BIO 2001, Shop Owners Hope For Business Boost

SAN DIEGO, 7:14 p.m. PDT June 22, 2001 -- Residents and shop owners in the Gaslamp Quarter are preparing for the coming BIO 2001 convention, 10 News reported.

Beginning Sunday, more than 15,000 visitors are expected to flood into the downtown area for the four-day biotechnology conference.

Business owners are optimistic about an estimated $30 million in revenue that the convention is expected to generate.

Shop owners and police also expect large numbers of protesters to go along with the conventioneers. Though police believe that most of the protests will be peaceful, they have been training for possible unrest and are taking extra precautions.

The Sheriff's department has boarded up its downtown jail (pictured) to keep the windows from being broken, and police presence has already been increased.

Business owners are also cautious. "We're concerned about safety and security," Dick's Last Resort's Steve Zipfel said.

Some residents are uneasy as well. "From what we've heard ... we'll definitely be cautious of where we go," downtown resident Julie Frederick said.

But many storeowners also see the weeklong convention as a business opportunity. With thousands of potential customers downtown, some expect the busiest week since the Super Bowl was in town.

"We just need every bit of business that we can get right now," antique shop owner Muriel Holderer said.

One downtown school decided not to take any chances and to close for the days of the convention.

"Originally, we were excited about this and wanted the kids to experience democracy and peaceful protest, and how that is a vital part of the democratic process," said Principal Carl Hermanns of the Museum School.

But after talking with police and parents, school officials decided "if we were going to err at all, we needed to err on the side of caution," Hermanns said. So the school will close Monday through Wednesday.

In a "worst-case scenario," police would disperse protesters using tear gas, which "affects everything within a quarter mile," Hermanns said.

"We're right in the middle of it," he said.

The school is at the Children's Museum at Front and Market streets, just blocks from the Convention Center where the BIO 2001 conference will be held.

The school is part of the San Diego City Schools district, and is chartered by the Children's Museum. Grades 3-6 are on a year-round schedule.

Up to 8,000 protesters are expected to demonstrate and engage in civil disobedience.

Previous Stories: (all linked to the web site- check them out!)

* June 23, 2001: Debate Over Biotech Food Continues
* June 22, 2001: Biotech Protesters Stage 'Teach-Ins'
* June 22, 2001: Police Beef-Up Force For BIO 2001
* June 22, 2001: Biotechnology: The Showdown Begins
* June 21, 2001: Biotech Industry Booming In San Diego
* June 14, 2001: Biotech Protesters Meet With City Hall
* June 8, 2001: Downtown Businesses Gear Up For Biotech Event
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