Presidential Support for World Expos

Presidential Memoranda -- Minnesota World's Fair 2023

Minnesota is a great choice for Expo 2023 / Star Tribune

These are important days for Minnesota’s bid to host Expo 2023 — a three-month World’s Fair — six years hence. Since Sunday, a delegation from the Paris-based Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) has been in the Twin Cities, meeting corporate and civic leaders, exploring the proposed Expo site near TCF Bank Stadium, and evaluating the appeal of the theme, “Wellness and Well-Being for All: Healthy People, Healthy Planet.”

Permit us to echo what the BIE representatives from eight countries undoubtedly have heard repeatedly since they arrived: Minnesota would be an excellent choice for Expo 2023. It has everything that BIE Secretary General Vicente G. Loscertales said the bureau is seeking: an attractive and technically feasible location, ample infrastructure, an enthusiastically welcoming spirit and a theme that promises to be both appealing to visitors and “inducive to dialogue for the international community.”

Expo 2023 would offer a collection of local and international exhibits and activities that showcase innovation in efforts to improve human health. It is expected to draw 150,000 visitors per day for three months.

For more than three years, a first-rate local team has been preparing a bid and recruiting allies both locally and in Washington, D.C. Their work has yielded considerable private support and bipartisan backing in the seats of government. (No request is anticipated for taxpayer funds.)

In December, the bid won the blessing of the Obama administration, making it officially the U.S. bid. To give it a chance against competing proposals from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Lodz, Poland, Congress now must allow the United States to renew its BIE membership, which lapsed 16 years ago. Private donors are prepared to cover the membership fee, provided Congress gives the green light. It should act soon, well in advance of the formal presentation of Minnesota’s proposal to the 168-nation BIE General Assembly set for June 14. A final selection is expected in November.

On Wednesday, the BIE site review panel heads to Washington, where its presence will help the members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation press the case for renewing U.S. membership. The Texas congressional delegation is lending assistance, since Houston is preparing a bid to host a six-month World’s Fair in coming years.

We hope the BIE group hears assurances in Washington about the membership question and one thing more — America’s commitment to hospitality to foreign visitors. The Trump administration’s efforts to impose a temporary travel ban on some nations — thus far stymied by the courts — are not helpful to Minnesota’s Expo bid. If those efforts persist, they may speak louder to the BIE than verbal assurances of support from the Trump administration.

Minnesota’s planning team, headed by former Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, was delighted when in his Feb. 28 address to Congress, President Trump mentioned the importance of the first World’s Fair hosted by the United States. That 1876 assembly in Philadelphia showcased inventions including the telephone, typewriter and electric light bulb. “Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year,” the president said. Imagine the good that can be derived from sharing some of those wonders with the world in the “Healthy State” of Minnesota.

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