We are now more than two months removed from the tragic killing of George Floyd in south Minneapolis. His name continues to be invoked as communities across the country look themselves in the mirror and examine who they are and who they need to become. In short order, Minneapolis and several other cities have implemented policies to address systemic racism and police brutality. There is no doubt that George Floyd’s death has breathed new life into a movement for sustainable institutional changes.
We applaud the policymakers who are championing these long-overdue changes. But now is not time to rest. We must begin to address the restoration and transformation of a community strewn with devastated small businesses.
Thankfully, the Minneapolis Forward: Community Now Coalition, organized by Mayor Frey, is already deploying strategies that prioritize BIPOC/minority-owned businesses. Many of these businesses were struggling before the pandemic and were further harmed after the unrest following George Floyd’s killing. This foundational work is meant to not only restore these small businesses to their previous condition but to also rectify past broken promises and inequities.
To augment the local business restoration efforts, Meet Minneapolis joined forces with Carmichael Lynch Relate (CLR) to create what has ultimately become known as the We Need Us campaign.
What’s unique about this is that Meet Minneapolis would not normally focus specifically on small business restoration, but our Destination Branding and Strategy team closely assessed the steps needed to resume regional and national tourism promotional activities, and it was clear that we had to start locally.
We Need Us, as discussed in our recent State of the Minneapolis Tourism and Hospitality Industry webinar, is phase three of our local and visitor recovery plan for the industry.
Our strategy is to encourage support of local businesses by our local community as we determine the appropriate time to resume our normal regional, national and international sales and marketing initiatives.
We Need Us complements Meet Minneapolis’ increased focused on neighborhood marketing initiatives. Prior to the pandemic, we were working closely with the City of Minneapolis in marketing the cultural districts it has identified. In short, the aim of the campaign is to inspire Minneapolis and metro residents to keep supporting their local businesses. Before Meet Minneapolis can effectively market our unique and diverse neighborhoods to visitors, locals must get out of our comfort zones and discover (or rediscover) them. Visitors want to live like locals and we can all become authentic evangelists for our neighborhoods.
The anthem that inspired the campaign reads in part:
“If we want our favorite places to survive, we need to keep showing up for them. To support the things we love about our city and fight for what we want to change. To be intentional. To shape our community from the small businesses up. Only we can create the Minneapolis we want to live in.”
We Need Us can be the start of a new movement. In and of itself, it is the starting point. It is not meant to be a panacea but a catalyst – a rallying cry for us to go back to our roots and begin to organically restore our community.
We need to make an effort to support small businesses and neighborhoods wherever they are. These businesses have been there for us through good and bad times. Let’s show them some love. Every little bit can help.