Our city’s downtown energy was the result of a robust office worker population, a steady increase in downtown residents, and visitors that Meet Minneapolis and our public and private partners work to attract.
The visitor component is key, because visitors come to town every day of the week including weekends. Visitors are able to enjoy the same amenities as our residents and office workers – and can feel at home doing what the locals do. Those authentic experiences are what increase visitor satisfaction and encourage return visits that support our travel and hospitality industry’s workforce.
The downtown worker leg of that stool became stronger in recent days with the announcement of Target requiring team members to work in their offices on a designated week every quarter. Their presence has been sorely missed since the pandemic and the protests and civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd.
Big and small businesses relied on a downtown workforce that totaled nearly 200,000 people, according to previous Minneapolis Downtown Council estimates. Target’s announcement is a welcome shot in the arm that will hopefully spur more downtown workforce increases. Many of us are betting that some of those workers will choose to come into their offices more than is required.
In other downtown vibrancy news, the Minneapolis Foundation recently released Downtown Next: An Action Strategy for Downtown Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Foundation is headed by R.T. Rybak. He is a former Minneapolis mayor and a new Meet Minneapolis board member. The report’s key ideas include:
- “Moving from an 8-hour to a 24-hour downtown core” that recognizes the absence of business tenants after the pandemic.
- “Creating common ground” with more green space and attractions, while also removing buses from Nicollet Mall.
- Moving the focus “from monoculture to multi-culture.”
Please click here for the complete report.
Rybak has described our downtown as a collection of neighborhoods with a footprint that has grown organically over the decades. The report suggests that downtown will never go back to what it was pre-pandemic. In fact, the shift in traditional retail had been in motion in Minneapolis, and in other cities, for years. Every major city I have visited in recent memory has struggled to retain the traditional retail model.
The report is future-focused and even suggests no further expansion of our heralded skyway system. (Was Eric Dayton, a longtime opponent of our skyways, in on this report?) Will the Downtown Next report push us to really put on our thinking caps and reimagine what our downtown will be?
These two developments – Target’s announcement and the Minneapolis Foundation report – give us even more encouragement about 2024 and beyond.
We know visitors will continue to contribute to an energetic downtown ecosystem with major youth, collegiate and Olympic sporting events, world-class cultural events and a diverse collection of meetings and conventions planned for next year.
In 2024, we will be able to put our best foot forward to welcome new visitors or reacquaint those visitors who may not have been here in a long time.
As this year comes to a close, best wishes to you and your family for a safe, peaceful, and prosperous new year.