notes from steve cramer | october 31, 2019

With a definite chill in the air, it’s clear winter is just ahead. But in our “Bold North” downtown, that doesn’t stop anything from happening! Here are a few highlights from the past month.

congrats to our 2025 plan leadership award winners

The mpls downtown council gala and 2025 leadership awards presented by YA drew a sellout crowd to Renaissance Mpls Hotel – The Depot where we were able to recognize eight projects and individuals who, in the past year, exemplified accomplishment of 2025 Plan goals, including Doors Open Mpls, Downtown View Apartments, Mark Huting, Metro Transit C Line, Mpls City Council Member Lisa Goodman for her steadfast leadership of Peavey Plaza, Mpls Final Four Local Organizing Committee, Neka Creative for work on Chameleon Shoppes, and The Armory. Read more about them at And thanks to our many sponsors and attendees. It appeared to me that a good time was had by all!

another successful Ignite Conference

Consistent with the 2025 Plan goal to strengthen ties with the University of Minnesota, the third annual Ignite Conference was a great success, also drawing its largest crowd to date. YA CEO and mdc board and executive committee member Chis Behrens is a driving force behind the conference, which brings together high level business practitioners and academic researchers to share perspectives and insights on a common topic. This year’s conference focused on marketing to the generations, and attendees actually got a sneak peek at the Target campaign to promote their new “Good and Gather“ food brand. Very timely and interesting information was offered throughout the day.

late night pilot program

For several years our office, through the DID safety program, has focused on improving the late night/bar close experience downtown. Consistent with that priority two interesting pilot programs rolled out in October and are now being evaluated for future applicability. In one case, a team of DID Ambassadors, deployed before, during and past the 2 am bar close hour. These Ambassadors serve to provide a friendly face on the street and intervene as appropriate to help people who might otherwise have been vulnerable, freeing up law enforcement for more serious occurrences. In addition, YouthLink opened its doors from 1 – 8 am on two weekends and deployed its street outreach team to engage young adults and provide an alternative place to be during those hours . Both efforts reported promising results.

public safety update

Work continues in support of the Mayor’s and Chief’s call for additional sworn officer positions in the 2020 City budget, to improve community policing and overall responsiveness. Several mdc board members met with their Mpls City Council representatives to share their perspective as both downtown business leaders and City residents on this important topic. Looking to the future, planning is already under way for an early start of 2020 safety strategies to set a constructive tone downtown right from the start when the Spring weather arrives.

safety collaboration

Public safety was one of many topics leaders and executive staff from downtown business organizations focused on with Hennepin County officials at our annual luncheon check-in. The reach of county government is vast, and the impact of the areas of responsibility for the County Commissioners and their top staff is significant for downtown. We are fortunate to have an excellent, long-standing partnership with the Hennepin County Government Center which benefits downtown in many ways.

member event recap

Our member events this month focused on two important but disparate topics – our future workforce and beef jerky! On October 24 we heard from two educational programs offering a work experience-based curriculum for highly diverse student populations – Cristo Rey High School and the Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas – and then the employer perspective from Children’s Minnesota, operating a major hospital located just south of downtown in the Phillips neighborhood. With a looming workforce shortage presenting a threat to future growth but an opportunity to create a more inclusive economy, innovation for both educators and employers is at a premium. And on October 30 at Jack Link’s on Hennepin Avenue, we got a “sneak peek” of their test kitchen in Mayo Clinic Square and learned from Tom “TD” Dixon, Chief Marketing Officer, about the product development process resulting in their many delicious offerings.

peavey renovation recognition

I’ve written before that the Peavey Plaza renovation has been a smashing success. It’s also receiving well deserved national attention. The national Cultural Landscape Foundation presented their top annual award to the project in recognition of the expert melding of the historic aspects of Peavey with new, functional features that have made it quite a popular attraction downtown.

congrats DID!

Congratulations to the DID activations team for receiving the International Downtown Association’s Downtown Achievement Pinnacle Award for its work and initiatives related to activating Nicollet. They were in Baltimore receiving the award this week.

mark your calendar this november

We’ve got a few fun upcoming events downtown in November to put on your radar:

  • Holidazzle returns to Loring Park beginning Friday, Nov. 29 and running Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 22. Enjoy the holiday experience with usual favorites (fireworks, outdoor movies, free Santa visits, local foods, beverages & craft shopping) while also enjoying new activities and products. If you’re interested in volunteering, visit
  • Wells Fargo Mpls WinterSkate also launches in Loring Park on Nov. 29. Enjoy free skating and complimentary skates available daily until early March. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors downtown during the winter months!
  • Chameleon Shoppes continues to provide pop-up shopping at Gaviidae Common and IDS Center. Stop by the street or skyway level in November or December: Check out Chameleon Shoppes’ autumn ad here.

thank you, joseph!

Finally, a note of thanks to Joseph Desenclos who has co-chaired the mpls downtown council’s Ending Street Homelessness Committee for many years, and became the first Manager of the DID Livability Team focused on street outreach. Joseph is moving on to a role addressing homelessness in Ramsey County. His contributions here are much appreciated!

Another busy month downtown! Stay warm, and thanks for all you do to make downtown Minneapolis extraordinary.

  • Ignite 2019: Marketing to the Generations |  thursday, oct 3, 7:15 am-4 pm at the U of M’s Carlson School of Management
  • Manova Summit |  oct 14-16 at Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot

That’s probably a good place to end for this month. Enjoy the nice fall weather, and thanks for all you do to make downtown extraordinary!

steve cramer

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

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