Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The government shutdown has had wide reaching effects on individuals and businesses but could this ongoing dispute tarnish the Minnesota “brand” — the state’s reputation and ability to sell itself as a desirable location for business and tourism?
That question is up for debate with some experts, who say Minnesota has already been delivered a devastating blow.
Experts say Minnesota’s brand, until now, has been a great one. It’s a state known for its outdoor lifestyle, culture and an attractive community to do business in and visit.
Minnesota’s latest tourism pitch sells a state that is so together that it can poke fun at itself. But with the parks closed and the rest of the state government shutdown, former ad executive and current Star Tribune columnist John Rash says Minnesota’s reputation has been hit hard.
“We look like a state driven with division and a state that cannot come to some kind of collaboration and that has broad reaching impact, not just for business but for tourist perception,” Rash said.
Over at Meet Minneapolis, which sells the community for conventions, the assessment is not quite as grim.
“Our day-to-day occupancy numbers still remain strong,” said Melvin Tennant with Meet Minneapolis.
It’s true that no conventions have canceled and hotels are solidly booked. Conventions generate an estimated $300 million for the community each year.
Meet Minneapolis admits if the shutdown continues into the fourth quarter of this year, when most conventions do get booked, it could be a serious problem.
“We have a lot riding on it. We had a great second quarter. Our sales people did a phenomenal job. I do not want to do anything to impact their ability to sell our great city,” Tennant said.
Rash’s analogy is that the impact of the shutdown is more like a drought than a tornado, with a slow withering of vitality compared to one overnight blow. He and other experts said it’s a matter of time — the longer the shutdown, the worse it is for the Minnesota brand.