MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is a finalist for a global event that hasn’t been in the United States for more than 30 years.
Minneapolis one of three cities with a chance to host the World’s Fair in 2023, named Expo 2023.
The last time a U.S. city hosted the event was in New Orleans in 1984.
The historic expo showcases technological innovations and cultures from around the globe. The two other finalists are Buenos Aires, Argentina and Lods, Poland.
The General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in Paris voted on which locations would be the three finalists Tuesday. It will vote again in November on the winner.
It’s one thing to host the Great Minnesota Get Together. But picture the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and the Twin Cities for that matter, hosting one of the largest events around the globe. The World’s Fair is where new architecture, technology, and ideas draw millions of visitors.
“There’s a whole generation or two of us who hasn’t seen one, at least up close,” said Kathy Tunheim. She’s the CEO of Tunheim, a consulting firm that’s been part of the local bidding process for Expo 2023 for two years. She said she’s visited a World’s Fair before and wants Minnesotans to have the same opportunity without leaving the state.
“The last big expo in Milan, Italy (2015) had over a billion digital impressions. People were checking in on that expo from all over the world in extraordinary numbers. And that’s the type of visibility we want to bring to our region,” she said.
The theme for Minnesota’s bid would be “Healthy People, Healthy Planet,” leaning on the plethora of health, wellness, and nutrition based industries around the Twin Cities. Companies like Ecolab, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medtronic, and more are already supporting the idea.
“One of the things that’s important for a successful expo bid is to create a theme that causes people from around the world to believe they need to be here they need to come together to work on something,” she said.
If Minneapolis was to win the bid, Tunheim estimates the economic impact to be $4 billion, while also bringing in about 13 million attendees. It’s also expected to generate 40,000 jobs statewide to support the event.
“It’s about the same traffic as the State Fair every day, but instead of 10 days it’s three months,” she said.
Tunheim said preparing for the World’s Fair would be like the Olympics, but without need to build as many new venues or as much infrastructure.
“Our whole approach to this bid is to use the infrastructure that we already have in Minnesota and to build an infrastructure between now and 2023 not just for the expo but to enhance the quality of life here for everybody on the other side of it,” she said.
According to a news release regarding the bid, former President Barack Obama supported Minnesota’s bid. The U.S. Congress unanimously consented to rejoin the BIE and that President Donald Trump supported the effort. The release also state the U.S. State Department fulfilled treaty documents before a May 12 deadline to submit the Minnesota bid.