Conventions boost downtown Minneapolis’ economy, but there’s still plenty of room for growth
MINNEAPOLIS – There is more than one big rally in Minnesota this weekend.
This includes the regional convention of the Midwest Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, drawing more than 2,600 women from seven states to downtown Minneapolis.
“We are all sisters together,” said Thomasine Leon, a delegate from Chicago. “I could feel the energy on the plane, at the airport and now here at the convention center.”
As for his impressions of Minneapolis?
“It’s clean, the people are nice, there’s plenty to do and there’s good food,” Leon said.
Conventions are a key part of the downtown economic ecosystem that powers hotels, shops, restaurants, museums, cafes, entertainment venues and transportation. This summer, several conventions have returned, but leaders admit the energy comes in waves and isn’t as consistent as in years past.
“There’s always work to be done,” said Jeff Johnson, executive director of the Minneapolis Convention Center. “We have very busy periods and then slower periods. Consistency means our employees can get consistent work and wages.”
Johnson added that when the pandemic shut down business, it also halted the marketing efforts and site visits that are so crucial to attracting congress.
“We expect 2023, 2024 and 2025 to be our recovery time,” he said. “We usually work with conventions sometimes in two to five years. It takes time for events to choose their dates, choose their cities and their convention centers.”
Yet a successful summer shows positive revenue: Minneapolis Convention Center data shows an average hotel room occupancy rate of around 60% in June, July and August, the latter being the highest percentage to date. high (62.8%) since October 2019. (75 percent).
Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said downtown offices are now more than 50% occupied during the week.
“When we started measuring occupancy it was 12% and now it’s 55%. It’s not what it used to be. [the pandemic] but it’s substantial progress,” Cramer said.
According to Cramer, his priority is to overcome people’s perception of the city centre.
“Sometimes our biggest critics are our people here in Minneapolis who live here every day,” Cramer said. “I think our best strategy is to continually invite people to have their own experience, whether it’s your first Twins game, first time back in the office, first time in a restaurant with white tablecloths. See what you think, not what you hear or what others think.As people have good experiences, these misperceptions fade away.