The downtown Minneapolis business community understands the importance of building strong connections to the University of Minnesota—one of the nation’s largest colleges sitting blocks away across the Mississippi River.

With thousands of students preparing to enter the workforce, the next wave of top talent is looking for a place to begin their careers. Downtown businesses want them to choose Minneapolis over other locations around the country.

“It’s critical,” YA President & CEO Chris Behrens said. “As the opportunity for business growth downtown continues to expand, we need to ensure that students understand upon graduation they can be part of the vibrancy and momentum of the downtown area.”

That’s why YA—one of the largest engagement marketing and promotions companies in the nation which relocated to downtown in 2015—is taking action to help forge those strong connections with students and faculty at the U. On Thursday, October 19, YA and the U of M’s Carlson School of Management Institute for Research in Marking will host Ignite 2017: Sparking Action in Marketing. Ignite 2017 is the first of at least three annual conferences that fuses two distinct marketing perspectives by bringing together some of the country’s leading business scholars with corporate leaders from premier companies.

Attendees will gain practical, data-driven insights on the latest digital tools to inform marketing strategies through a combination of theoretical knowledge and real-world lessons. YA has entered into an agreement with the University to sponsor the event for three years. Other sponsors include Oracle, Huron, the mpls downtown council and Twin Cities Business Magazine.

Students and marketers can CLICK HERE to register for the event.

Speakers and topics include:

How New Tools Are Shaping the Customer Experience In Ways You Cannot Imagine

  • Ravi Bapna – Associate Dean for Executive Education, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
  • Graham Tutton –  Vice President Customer Journey & Analytics, Comcast

The Data Will Only Take You So Far

  • Joseph Redden – Associate Professor, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
  • Bob Daly – Senior Vice President, Retail Payment Solutions, U.S. Bank

How Can Marketers Participate in the Conversation?

  • Jonah Berger – Associate Professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  • Audra Carson – Head of Content Marketing & Media Platforms, General Mills

Integrated Marketing Has Never Been More Important

  • Anindya Ghose – Professor, Stern School of Business, New York University
  • Rob Temple – Senior Vice President, Sports Marketing, ESPN


“Education can’t happen in a vacuum,” Carlson School of Management Institute for Research in Marketing program director Steve Goodyear said. “It’s critical that students are exposed to real-world issues to understand how they can bridge what they’ve learned in academia with what they will be doing when they graduate. In addition, we want to make sure they have an affinity for the local business community so that we may keep the best and brightest students right here in the Twin Cities.”

This is one of the 10 initiatives of the mpls downtown council’s Intersections: The Downtown 2025 Plan. Ensuring that students have opportunities to connect with and learn from downtown Minneapolis businesses in hopes of attracting and retaining that top talent when they graduate is an important piece of building a strong and healthy business environment.

Behrens said this will be a tremendous opportunity for students to get first-hand knowledge of the marketing world.

Plus, they can interact and get connected with today’s local marketing leaders.

“Who knows, they might be sitting next to their future boss,” mpls downtown council & mpls downtown improvement district president & ceo Steve Cramer said. “Also, as they learn about the trends in the industry and real issues that have been resolved by marketers, they’ll be more able to hit the ground running in their first jobs.”

Behrens said YA is part of Ignite because it is committed to sharing real-time knowledge, applications and expertise with top marketers in the region as well as students at the University.

“The caliber of the faculty, staff and students at the University of Minnesota is unparalleled,” Behrens said. “As we continue to expand, we are looking for next-generation talent who can help take us to the next level.”



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