We wanted to share some experiences and takeaways from our annual InterCity Visit. From September 15-17, we led a delegation of more than 100 business and community leaders to Minneapolis-St. Paul for this year's InterCity Visit. Having first visited the Twin cities in 2010, we came back because the region has led the country on several priorities that the Austin region is focused on. Here are a few of those key topics and what our group learned on the ground:
Building a robust and regional transit system: Our trip kicked off with a leisurely but efficient ride on Metro Transit’s Blue and Green Rail lines from the airport to Allianz Field, home of Minnesota United FC, in St. Paul. This experience allowed our group to see firsthand how the region has been connected through rail and bus service. Later in the trip, our delegation heard from Metro Transit’s professional staff about what it took to get to such a robust transit system. Our delegation reached the consensus that building a successful transit system takes time and a lot of effort.
Welcoming a Major League Soccer team: After our ride on the Metro Rail, our delegation heard from Dr. Bill McGuire, President of Minnesota United FC, Austin’s own Dave Greeley, President of Two Oak Ventures, and Andy Loughnane, President of Austin FC. All three compared notes on the process of building a stadium, fan base, soccer team, and doing so with community impact and interest in high regard. Minnesota United FC began play in 2017 and have a new stadium that our group was able to see in all its game day glory by attending a match on Sunday evening.
Addressing homelessness with compassion and urgency: Homelessness is one of the most pressing and urgent challenges our community is currently facing. We learned from several speakers that it takes an entire community working together to help those in need while ensuring public safety remains a top priority. Our delegates were able to learn valuable and meaningful lessons that we hope can help find lasting solutions for those in need.
Sustainable air service and airport growth: Our last session of the trip was held in the MSP Airport Conference Center. Delegates heard from a diverse group of speakers working in all aspects of airport operations. The two-terminal airport an example of where AUS hopes to be in the next 20 years, with several international flight options and a 2040 plan for increased connectivity and gate expansion.
Local Leadership Matters: On Monday night, our delegation had dinner at the Guthrie Theater, a Minneapolis gem that overlooks the Mississippi River and historic Stone Arch Bridge. After taking in the #views, we sat down with Mayor Adler, and the Minneapolis and St. Paul Mayors, Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter. The conversation ranged from how the Twin Cities work together, what issues keep each Mayor up at night to a snowball fight between Minneapolis and St. Paul – both Mayors claiming victory, but only one Mayor *cough Frey* was rumored to have left the fight with a black eye. The conversation was light and informal, but all three did not shy away from the big issues that affect their cities. Addressing homelessness was a top priority for each mayor, as well as affordability, mobility, and equity. Mayor Adler wrapped the session up nicely with a few words about how Austin and the surrounding region can learn from the spirit of regional collaboration that the Twin Cities leads with. He framed the Twin Cities as top competitors and encouraged our group to take the lessons learned in MSP back to Austin.
MSP’s contribution to world cuisine, The Juicy Lucy: While the delegation stays busy with panels and speakers during the day, a few lucky delegates were able to sneak away and find time to explore the many variations of the Juicy Lucy. For those that don’t know, the Juicy Lucy is a hamburger known for holding molten cheese in the middle of two thinly sliced burger patties. My thoughts? The Juicy Lucy is undoubtedly a tasty treat, but not much more than a glorified cheeseburger.
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