Note from Melvin: This week’s Meet Minneapolis Minute will feature Part 1 of an interview with Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) Executive Director Jeff Johnson. Jeff has been with the City of Minneapolis for 16 years and in his executive director position for 10 years.
The MCC was built as an economic generator for our local hospitality/travel industry. That role is even more important now as we align our community’s efforts to restart our industry. Jeff has answered several questions to help us understand how the MCC will be a central player in our recovery. Enjoy the read and thank you for your support.
What new policies and procedures has the MCC implemented to reassure visitors of a safe and healthy experience in the COVID era? The MCC has always been known for its professional staff that provide great service and implements industry leading policies and procedures. Our cleaning practices have been a hallmark of our success and something that clients and attendees historically rate as a competitive advantage for the MCC. We are taking our cleaning to a higher level and have implemented more sanitation components to our cleaning. Our information can be found on our website for specifics.
We also created our operational plan to comply with the Stay Safe MN Plan. The details can be found here. Our staff has redrawn room sets based on physical distancing guidelines for all of our spaces, and we have redesigned how attendees interact with our building through signage and crowd management resources. As part of our plan, each client must work with MCC staff to create an approved COVID-19 plan. This plan will be implemented in conjunction with our overall plan and gives us the flexibility to serve each event’s individual needs. Health screenings, the mask mandate, and controlled entrances are the headlines, but many other plans address how we will work to keep everyone safe.
During this unplanned slowdown, you’ve completed some major projects that will make a big splash once the MCC reopens. Can you tell us about them? Our most stunning project to the outside world is our renovation of the MCC Plaza which sits just across the street from our facility. This new outdoor space will be more welcoming, more event ready and more sustainably appropriate for our campus. New lighting will help keep the space bright and inviting. Seating will be placed closer to our main entrance and consist of more movable, social pieces that help our guests continue their networking and relationship building outside of our walls. It will also serve as a better event space with increased electrical distribution and improved flat space for catering, production and socialization. The space will also be more sustainable with a new pollinator meadow with wildflowers, and all of our new plantings will be irrigated from rain water collected from our roof.
Our most visible inside project is the new terrazzo floor that now spans the entire first level. The new floor has a more modern design that complements the many updates that have been made to our facility and it will be more durable. Within the terrazzo are inlayed images of activities that residents of Minneapolis enjoy in our great city. Sailing, fishing, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, plus other activities give our floor some Minneapolis personality while also acting as wayfinding markers for our large venue.
Over the last several years, the convention center has made a huge commitment to reducing our energy usage, and 100% of our electricity usage is offset by renewable resources either through our larger solar array or through a wind energy program with Xcel Energy. The MCC has also reduced its electrical consumption by 15% through conservation techniques like installing LED lighting. This year we were able replace all lighting in our 87 meeting rooms with LED lights. This saves energy and will provide more consistent, dimmable lighting in the space at a more appealing color temperature.
What are some of the trends in meeting preparedness that you have discussed with some of your peers in convention center world? Obviously, one trend that all meetings and convention centers are dealing with is safety. Not only is this safety from the pandemic, but it is also travel safety during a time of civil unrest across the country. Meet Minneapolis and the convention center have been very proactive in discussing these issues with our clients and providing answers to their public safety questions on the Meet Minneapolis website.
In Part 2 of our interview with Jeff Johnson, he’ll share two more trends (technology and funding models) and answer these questions: