What seemed like a particularly busy December full of receptions and holiday events is over, and 2020 lies just ahead. I hope you and yours had a joyous season, and that you also managed to get in some relaxation! If I had to guess, we’ll be ramping back up to full speed quickly in the New Year. Before then, here are a few highlights from last month.

another dazzling Holidazzle is in the books

With a run of mostly ideal weather combined with a great mix of vendors, activities, lighting, site lay out improvements and of course the 17-foot-tall Yeti, Holidazzle 2019 enjoyed record crowds! I hope you had a chance to get out to Loring Park and if not, there is always next year. Check out a few photos here (and give us a follow on Instagram). Thank you to all of our sponsors and partners who once again helped make Holidazzle a success.

skate with us at Wells Fargo Mpls WinterSkate through early March

Wells Fargo Mpls Winter Skate was equally busy during the run of Holidazzle (you may have noticed it featured during the Monday Night Football game—it looked great!), and will remain open through early March. It is open daily for free skating and complimentary skates available in the warming house courtesy of CenterPoint Energy, and we’ll have free events happening all January and February. Visit www.mplsdowntown.com/winterskate for information about Winter Skate including special events scheduled for January and February.

city budget updates

The City Council and Mayor agreed on a 2020 budget that made important investments in public safety across a range of needed strategies. Funding increases for additional police officer recruitment, hiring and training were a highlight, as well as funding for DID to supplement the business community’s investment in safety related activities. This will permit us to develop a comprehensive, collaborative plan that will hit the streets downtown in early spring with a goal of setting a more positive tone for safety early on. Look for details in coming months, and thanks, in particular, to Mayor Frey for setting the stage with his initial budget plan, and Council Members Goodman, Fletcher and Council President Bender for authoring the amendment to provide additional DID funding. For more on the budget this is a link to a commentary I co-authored with several of my business association colleagues.

storage program plans

One other plus in the City’s 2020 budget was an allocation of funds to DID proposed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council for a storage program for people in the downtown area experiencing homelessness. This program will remove the barrier of having to carry belonging with them throughout the day. DID launched a pilot project, located at our new Operations Center in the Leamington Ramp, at the end of December which will permit our Livability Team to offer up to 50 storage opportunities. Based on this experience, we intend to work with a variety of stakeholders, including Hennepin County and some private donors who have an interest in expanding storage options. In their 2020 budget, the County Commissioners also made a significant investment to expand and improve shelter services.

getting to know John Wilgers

Member events in December included a coffee and conversation with Greater Twin Cities United Way CEO John Wilgers, who reflected on what drew him to this role after a successful business career as well as the changes driving innovation at this important community institution. I noticed Minnesota was rated once more as the most generous state in the nation, but the way in which people express their generosity is evolving. United Way is evolving right along.

including one another as diverse identities in the workplace

Our other December member event, in collaboration with the East Town Business Partnership, featured several prominent diversity and inclusion practitioners focusing on rapidly changing workplace environments. To continue this focus we will be partnering for a second year with the downtown YMCA to offer a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Executive Training Partnership (details will be forthcoming). There will also be open sessions on this topic at the Y’s Equity Innovation Center as part of the 2025 Plan’s Inclusive Downtown Action Group. Dates will be announced in coming weeks.

mdc/DID budget approved

Our final Board of Directors meeting of the year resulted in an approved 2020 budget for the mpls downtown council, as well as an update on the holiday season’s version of the Chameleon Shoppes. Look for Chameleon to return several times throughout 2020 at multiple downtown locations.

Dayton’s Project sneak peek

Finally, one of the big events next year will be the opening of the Dayton’s Project. It’s already so fun to see several holiday window displays back in the building. A number of board members took a “sneak peak” tour behind the construction walls, and suffice to say the design in spectacular. Those on the tour were suitably impressed, and I know you will be as well. Can’t wait!

That’s a good place to end my last report of 2019. Please have a fun and safe New Year’s celebration, and I’ll look forward to seeing all of you in our extraordinary downtown in 2020.

steve cramer

president & ceo, mpls downtown council and Mpls Downtown Improvement District

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