It’s difficult to discuss President Donald Trump without delving, at least tangentially, into the urban-rural divide that ran through the 2016 election. Though subsequent analysis has complicated the notion that Trump won thanks mainly to rural, white, blue-collar voters, dozens of articles have been—and continue to be—written about small-town supporters who saw voting for Trump as a means of voicing their displeasure with well-off urbanites.
Now, a little over six months after the election, the Trump Organization is ready to expand its business into such rural regions. Months after a company spokesperson outlined efforts to grow the brand—and amid significant struggles in the big cities that have for decades been the locus of the hotel chain’s profits—the president’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have announced plans to expand their father’s empire, starting with a licensing deal in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Cleveland, nestled in the state’s northwest corner and boasting a population of 12,334 as of the 2010 census, doesn’t fit the profile of the Trump brand’s typical market. Historically, the organization’s portfolio has comprised luxury properties in major metropolises like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and upscale resorts in vacation destinations such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, South Florida, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Eric himself noted that “the Trump name is reserved for the Turnberrys of the world,” differentiating the new Cleveland location from properties such as the president’s golf club in Scotland.