Our region has had great success hosting major events, over the years, that positively impact us reputationally, socially and fiscally. From the MLB All-Star Game in 2014 to multiple NCAA championship events to a Super Bowl, a WNBA All-Star Game and the ESPN Summer X Games, we have been able to demonstrate our ability to partner with major event organizers to achieve their goals. The next big event on the target list is a World Expo.
Our region has had great success hosting major events, over the years, that positively impact us reputationally, socially and fiscally. From the MLB All-Star Game in 2014 to multiple NCAA championship events to a Super Bowl, a WNBA All-Star Game and the ESPN Summer X Games, we have been able to demonstrate our ability to partner with major event organizers to achieve their goals.
The next big event on the target list is a World Expo.
A local organizing committee has been formed to pursue the Minnesota 2027 Specialized Expo, with a site located near the Mall of America in Bloomington. The bid theme is “Healthy People, Healthy Planet.” Our community worked hard to attract an Expo for 2023 but fell short of that goal. That effort was led by Mark Ritchie, former Minnesota Secretary of State, who now heads up Global Minnesota.
An expanded group of community leaders has come together under the leadership of John Stanoch, Minnesota USA Expo 2027 President & CEO. Stanoch is a retired Hennepin County District Court judge.
A group of nearly two dozen regional and national leaders recently completed an exploratory mission to the postponed Expo 2020 in Dubai. Expo 2020 Dubai hosted 192 participating nations with pavilions ranging from the lavish to the modest. While some of the more elaborate pavilions were stimulating to the senses, less elaborate country pavilions allowed the true personality of those nations to shine through with the compelling, personal and authentic stories of the people of their nations.
Professor Nicholas Cull of the University of Southern California provided the delegation with a primer on the history of World Expo movement, which began with the work of the United Kingdom’s Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. These royals organized The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations in 1851. According to Professor Cull, the United States later backed away from participating in Expo events in the 1990s. Other nations like South Korea, Germany and China accelerated the use of these events for national branding during this time.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has been organizing Expo events since 1931. Ultimately, a majority vote of the BIE member nations will select the site. The other countries in contention for 2027 are Thailand (Phuket), Serbia (Belgrade), Spain (Malaga), and Argentina (San Carlos de Bariloche). A final decision is expected in mid-2023.
The last Expo held in the United States was in New Orleans in 1984. This explains the lack of awareness among many people regarding the existence of these events. Notable reminders of past Expos in the United States include the Space Needle from the 1962 Expo in Seattle and the Tower of the Americas from the 1968 event in San Antonio.
Courtney Ries, Meet Minneapolis’ SVP of Branding and Strategy, is the vice chair of the Expo 2027 Minnesota USA marketing committee and was among the nearly two dozen regional and national participants on the mission to Dubai, and she has agreed to share some of her thoughts:
How will hosting an Expo impact the region financially? There are multiple phases of economic development. The first is in the building – the investment in the infrastructure. The second is during the event itself – the visitation and the dollars spent in the community both at and around the Expo. The third – and most substantial – are the long-term benefits of the assets that have been developed, such as commercial buildings and community spaces.
What surprised you the most during your time at the Expo 2020 Dubai? To paraphrase something Professor Cull quoted – just because the United States forgot about Expos, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world did. While our specialized Expo would be different in scale, theme, and length of time, it was incredibly impressive to see how countries, territories and regions around the globe are representing themselves on an international stage. The stories they choose to tell and how they approached the themes were incredibly varied.
The Minnesota 2027 Specialized Expo bid theme is “Healthy People, Healthy Planet.” How can this theme serve as a legacy for the event and help our region become better known? Medical health – from innovation at Medtronic to care at Mayo to research at the University of Minnesota – is something that’s easy to understand and is recognized in varying degrees around the world. However, health is a lot more complicated than medical interventions. What about the development of nutritious foods that are drought resistant, such as the work being done at Cargill? What about mental health and addiction recovery, like the services provided by Hazelden? There is a nuanced story to be told about health and a lot to learn. Being known as a convener and leader of that conversation will further bolster our region’s strengths.
What happens next in Minnesota’s pursuit of the 2027 Specialized Expo? Now that we’ve submitted our intent to bid, we need to develop it! This will include everything from further development of the theme to financial modeling to marketing highlights. The core Expo team will also be spending time in Paris, speaking to delegates and answering their questions. The final decision to hopefully select the United States and Minnesota will be made in mid-2023.
We look forward to providing future updates on efforts to pursue the Minnesota 2027 Specialized Expo.