Meet Minneapolis was well represented by several board members, including our current chair, Bob Lux, former chair Charlie Zelle, and current board members Council Member Jacob Frey, City Coordinator Spencer Cronk, Michele Kelm-Helgen, and Margaret Anderson Kelliher. One of our tourism master plan subcommittee leaders, Tom Jollie, was also a participant.
This was also the first such trip for new MRCC president and CEO Jonathan Weinhagen. We certainly missed the energy and wit of Jonathon's predecessor of 13 years, Todd Klingel, on this trip, but we’re all excited to welcome Jonathan on board.
A number of factors go into the selection of ICLV cities, however, one major factor is whether a potential city or region has faced similar challenges to ours, such as in the areas of transportation, education or sports facilities. On day one of the trip I overheard one of our nearly 100 participants suggest that Baltimore wasn't a relevant city to visit based on our own successes as a region and the challenges that Baltimore has faced. However, my own observation is that we can always learn from those who've had to dig deep to face and overcome intense adversity.
There was broad consensus that the Freddie Gray case that made national news when it occurred in 2015 and subsequently when the various court cases took place was top of mind for nearly every speaker we met. Some acknowledged the case as the fuse on a powder keg that was already in place. More importantly, it is clear that this tragedy served to galvanize a community that has had to endure significant economic and social challenges for a number of years. These challenges included the loss of major industries and radical demographic shifts.
But despair has certainly given way to hope with initiatives such as the Living Classroom Foundation. LCF is a 30-year-old organization that provides hands-on educational enrichment by educating students through after-school and supplemental education programs, and through environmental, maritime heritage, and health and wellness experiences, with special emphasis on serving students who live in high-risk environments. We learned that one the Foundation's most recent ventures was to secure a major ownership stake in a landscaping business to provide employment for its students as well as financial stability for the organization.
We should acknowledge that the fallout from a community tragedy like the death of Freddie Gray can occur in any American city. We've seen it in such cities as St. Louis and New York City. Our own community tragedies have also made national news over the last year. It is clear that Baltimore's leaders have worked hard to overcome obstacles and remain competitive on the world stage. The civic, political and business leaders we met are all intensely proud of the community in which they live and work. Their commitment to candid conversations on tough issues like racial justice and passionate action to address those issues seem to be paying off.
I didn't get to visit with my fellow ICLV participant at the end of the trip to determine if he thought the trip was productive after all. My guess is that after our experiences in Baltimore, the answer would be yes.