Sunday, June 06, 2010

OPINION: Convention Center is supposedly a huge asset

The Minneapolis Convention Center was featured in a recent article that examined the facility's revenues and expenses in light of initial projections vs. the economic and competitive realities of the convention business over the last several years. Although that's important information, we want to make sure that residents of Minneapolis understand the entire story of what the center means to Minneapolis and the region.

The purpose of any convention center is to attract visitors and enhance the local economy. The Minneapolis center is a success story when it comes to the benefits it provides to the community. Hundreds of thousands of people come to the building each year for conventions, meetings, concerts, fundraisers and more. A percentage of them are local residents who spend money on parking, food and beverages; the rest are visitors who bring outside money into our economy and spend even more on hotels rooms and services, transportation, food, beverages and entertainment.

Even in the weakened 2009 economy, people attending events at the Minneapolis center introduced $212.9 million into the local economy. The building is an economic driver for the city, and the city's investment draws people to experience everything Minneapolis has to offer.

The facility also employs hundreds of people. Many of those workers live in the city and spend the money they make in our community.

When the decision was made to build and later to expand the Minneapolis Convention Center, the city leaders before us had the foresight to understand that the investment in "bricks and mortar" was just one aspect of a cycle of community reinvestment. It's a cycle that continues to yield countless benefits every day.

Casey is chair of Meet Minneapolis. Lilligren is a member of the organization's board and is also a Minneapolis City Council member.
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