Where is Our Minneapolis Vision?   What is the future we are creating for our City?

Let’s look at how Austin, Texas is leading…

At first blush, there is a lot to love about Austin. Their chain of lakes, their live music scene, their vibrant food scene, their entrepreneurial spirit.

Sound familiar? Austin has captured the imagination of our country and the world.  Let’s take a condensed look at what Austin has been doing for the last 30 years, and how that City has reinvented itself from a college town to an international destination.

 The South x Southwest (SxSW) Festival started in 1987 as a live music festival promoting new, emerging music artists with music industry executives. Austin adopted the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ tagline and the SxSW festival was the first way to substantiate their ‘live music’ positioning. In Austin’s case, what started as a music festival has evolved into a single, united event with 24 ‘tracks’ of programming covering technology, social, digital, music, and film topics. And today, SxSW draws tremendous international attention and tourism.

What has emerged for Austin is a focused city strategy of using international events to showcase Austin’s natural beauty, culture, creativity, brain power…its brand! This vision and strategy has worked in attracting international media coverage of their events with extended coverage all year from travel and entertainment sites. The ‘sampling’ of Austin through media and tourism hasproven successful in attracting new citizens and businesses over time.

Today, SxSW brings to Austin over 400,000 attendees at festival events over nine days! There are approximately 85,000 participants paying between $825 and $1550 per badge (that’s well over $100 million annually poured into the Austin economy from badge revenue every year—before one even begins to count all of the additional hotel, food and ‘other’ spending. Of course, the SxSW festival organizers also arrange the travel plans and activate the social pages of participants so that the benefits of Austin and SxSW are broadcast to the world!

As we know, cities are either moving forward or falling behind. Austin is moving forward by taking this strategy and spreading it across their city calendar. They are establishing SxSW off-shoot events to expand on their brand - festivals on educational innovation and the environment are up next. Austin is also investing in new music festivals anchored by the Austin City Limits Music Festival and non-music initiatives like the Austin Design Week. 

Where is the Minneapolis plan?

What is our ambition?

Why don’t we have the unrestrained ambition to create and host annual events that showcase our unique culture, creativity, and brainpower?

Where are our city leaders in creating these kinds of tremendous year-after- year opportunities for all our citizens and for visitors?

Actually…nowhere.  They’re not activating our wellspring of creative and business leaders to identify something for us….not helping advance some of the organic initiatives that need support and attention to grow and not convening anyone to identify what we can share with the world.

Let’s lead with an unrestrained ambition to highlight and grow our city through at least one major annual event that showcases everything we have to offer.  

Help lead and join our movement to move forward and put the progress back in progressive!

Let’s start a city-wide conversation on how we move forward for the future of Minneapolis. Share your ideas on how we build a model for growth Minneapolis-style.  From talking with so many of you, I know that you have great ideas; there is real value in sharing them.

Thank you for joining this conversation.

Tom Hoch



Tom Hoch