We’ve seen unprecedented commercial development, another wave a trendy hotel construction, and continued downtown residential growth keeping pace with the Minneapolis Downtown Council 2025 Plan goal of 70,000 downtown residents.
However, the prosperity we are enjoying is tainted by the interwoven issues of homelessness, lack of affordable housing and crime in our neighborhoods and throughout the entire city.
- According to the Saint Paul-based Wilder Foundation, more than 10,200 homeless Minnesotans were identified in 2018, which is a 10% increase from 2015.
- The median home price in the city, in June, increased over 7% to $290,000. Clearly demand is high in a limited-supply market. This pressure impacts all citizens, particularly those with income restrictions.
- And when it comes to crime, some high-profile violent activity over the summer has caused us to take notice.
I have spoken with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arredondo frequently, as well as recently-elected Sheriff David Hutchinson and new Metro Transit Police Chief Eddie Frizell. We should all feel confident in their collective expertise and vision for a safe and prosperous community.
From a policy perspective, Mayor Frey is engaged in finding solutions and frequently convenes business associations like Meet Minneapolis, Minneapolis Downtown Council, Minneapolis Regional Chamber, the Warehouse District Business Association and BOMA, along with other elected officials and community leaders to stay abreast of conditions on the street.
Dealing with homelessness, affordable housing and crime are issues we must face and solve for the benefit of our local citizens. With an increasing tourism infrastructure, steady increases in overall metro area visitors since 2010, and a national profile as a major destination, we must also consider where our visitors come into play.
Our restaurants led by James Beard Award winning chefs, funky and eclectic neighborhoods, lifestyle hotel development, and the allure of our diverse amateur and professional sports scene have helped Minneapolis gain that “cool factor.”
Visitors want to come here for an authentic experience where they can live like a local. If that’s the case, our visitors will encounter our community’s challenges, as well. Even though affordable housing, homelessness and crime are national conversations, we must take action on the local level as a hospitality industry.
Here are some positive examples of how our industry is lending a hand:
- Local Event Services Professionals Association (ESPA) members are giving back as part of National Celebrate Services Day. Local convention services professionals, from around the city, made blankets to donate to House of Charity that will be distributed to our city’s homeless population. We applaud the work of House of Charity, YouthLink, St. Stephen's Human Services, and the other organizations making a difference every day.
- Local hotels have actively sought ways to hire individuals that may have had some criminal activity in their past. This serves the purpose of giving a much-needed second chance to individuals willing to accept personal responsibility. It also helps to fill the hospitality workforce shortage we are currently experiencing.
- Our own award-winning Minneapolis Convention Center is providing food donations to several charitable organizations on a regular basis. For examples, more than 4,600 pounds of food has been donated to People Serving People through the first half of this year.
Circling back to the question of “How can we help?” I urge you to engage in the discussion, as we work on solving the major issues we face as a community and as a hospitality industry.
We want your voice heard as policy makers, civic and business leaders seek solutions. As an industry, we cannot afford to stay on the sidelines. We must work on building up the great community, neighborhoods and city we are marketing.
Thank you for all you are doing to be good stewards of your businesses while understanding the responsibility to give back and help our community continue to prosper.