PCMA’s monthly professional publication is called Convene. Its most recent issue features an article entitled “The Community-Driven Convention Center: These six cities are going to great lengths to make sure that convention centers are a part of their surrounding communities.” I passed the article along to Minneapolis Convention Center Executive Director Jeff Johnson for his comments. Jeff has been with the MCC for 12 years, six of them as executive director.
Cities across the country are investing heavily in their meeting and conventions infrastructure as we are in Minneapolis. Focusing on elements that create connectivity between a convention center and the neighborhood in which it resides is part of a strategy to create a unique and authentic destination experience. Over the years, Jeff has been an advocate of making our MCC a true destination. We will feature his comments on the article over the next two issues of the Meet Minneapolis Minute.
Why is it important for the MCC to be a community asset?
All expenditures that the City is involved in have to raise to the level of having a public purpose. Fundamentally, we need to show how the investments in the convention center benefit the public or the City cannot spend money on the convention center. From a support standpoint, we need the citizens to know that the convention center is working for them so that they continue to push their Council Members to support what we do. When residents can interact with the convention center in ways other than attending an event, it adds to the fabric of a compelling experience downtown. When residents and businesses feel the direct impact of the convention center through jobs, economic impact, and new residents/businesses, they come to value the convention center as an asset to the city and their daily lives.
Because our impact is incremental and sustained it tends to add and sustain better hotels, restaurants, amenities, and attractions to our city that both residents and visitors can enjoy. The community has a better opportunity to connect those benefits to the convention center if they have a relationship with the space, events, and activities that we provide. Also, it is the goal of our City to grow. We work very hard to showcase Minneapolis inside and outside of our convention center to act as a connector to the rest of the city so that visitors get a true sense of Minneapolis and its greatness. We know that our awareness both nationally and internationally is low so this gives us an opportunity to convert visitors into ambassadors of our community. We can do this by being a connector and giving authentic experiences to our visitors that will leave lasting memories and change perceptions of our city.
Watch for more from Jeff Johnson in next week’s Meet Minneapolis Minute.