A well-known Rochester leader is among those seeking to bring the World’s Fair to Minnesota in 2023.

Retired Mayo Clinic physician and University of Minnesota Regent Patricia Simmons traveled to Milan, Italy, this month to see the 2015 World’s Fair up close. Simmons is on the advisory board for Expo 2023 — a nonprofit organization leading efforts to bring the fair to Minnesota.

The theme of the proposed 2023 World’s Fair in Minnesota would be health and wellness. Simmons said when she was first approached about helping with the World’s Fair effort, she was somewhat skeptical. But as she thought more about it, she realized the state is already slated to host the Super Bowl in 2018 and the Final Four in 2019.

“This has gotten some real traction among business leaders, community leaders and government leaders in Minnesota, so as the support has grown, as people have learned more about what it could be, what it could accomplish for our state, I agreed it was worth pursuing,” Simmons said.

It turns out that Rochester and Mayo Clinic could end up playing key roles in attempts to win the World’s Fair bid.

Expo 2023 Executive Director Mark Ritchie said the organization plans to submit a bid for the 2023 World’s Fair on May 15. As part of the bidding process, a delegation from the Bureau of International Expositions would visit Minnesota to inspect the plans — possibly as early as mid-November. Ritchie said he has met with Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy about the possibility of the clinic hosting an international symposium during the visit. The symposium would focus on why Minnesota is the perfect place to host a World’s Fair focused on health and wellness.

“Not everyone on the planet has heard about Minnesota. They might have heard about Mayo Clinic,” Ritchie said.

The 2023 World’s Fair would span three months in the summer and bring an estimated 10 to 15 million visitors to the state. It would also generate an estimated 4 billion in tourism spending.

Ritchie said his organization is considering several possible 62-acre sites for the event in the Twin Cities. At this point, Richie said his organization does not plan to ask for public dollars for the event.

Even though the event will be in the Twin Cities-metro, he said the goal is to make sure that visitors are encouraged to visit other parts of the state as well — including Rochester.

“There is so much more to Minnesota that we want people to know about, to go visit,” Ritchie said.

Simmons said Expo 2023 would help show the world that Minnesota is a global leader when it comes to health care.

She added, “This provides us a stage to show what Minnesota is to the nation and the world. I think it provides a tremendous opportunity for Rochester because Rochester is the home of Minnesota’s most famous entity — the Mayo Clinic.”

Heather J. Carlson, Post Bulletin | November 2, 2015 – 6:48 am

Read article HERE


With the help of the University of Minnesota, the 2023 world’s fair could come to the state.

The three-month event could bring 12 million foreign visitors and $4 billion in tourism spending to Minnesota, according to proponents. The occasion would add to a growing list of high-profile events scheduled for the Twin Cities, including the 2018 Super Bowl and 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four.

The Minneapolis City Council officially endorsed Expo 2023 — the official effort to bring the world’s fair to Minnesota — earlier this month, and University faculty members and administrators have helped the planning process get off the ground.

London held the first world’s fair in 1851. The first city illuminated by electricity, the first television broadcast, the Space Shuttle and the world’s first picture phone were all presented at world’s fairs held in the United States. The U.S. hasn’t hosted a world’s fair since New York in 1964.

“When a city hosts a world’s fair, it’s sending itself off to college,” said Urso Chappell, a world expo consultant. “It’s a transformative event. It’s an education. It’s fun. When a city hosts, [it comes] out seeing itself anew.”

The fair would cover a 60-acre site and feature pavilions from more than 100 countries, corporations and civic groups. A specific host site hasn’t been selected, said Mark Ritchie, president of the event’s bid committee and former Minnesota secretary of state.

The fair’s theme, “Wellness and Well-Being for All: Healthy People, Healthy Planet,” makes the University’s Academic Health Center “ground zero,” he said, adding that the University’s advancements in clinical and medical technology research would be a focal point of the fair.

Many groups within the University have been involved in the planning and consulting process, Ritchie said. Thomas Fisher, dean of the University’s College of Design, has been the “main visionary” on design ideas, he said, and faculty members in the Carlson School of Management have helped with initial consulting and analysis.

It’s important to think about how fairs are changing today, Fisher said.

“In the digital age, where you can get information and images in the palm of your hand, the old way to go to the fair to see things is changing,” he said.

Modern fairs have to be more engaging, with fairgoers producing as well as consuming ideas, Fisher said.

University Board of Regents member Patricia Simmons was part of one of the four delegations that recently traveled to Italy to study its fair, Ritchie said.

Minnesota’s globally minded and welcoming atmosphere makes it an ideal location for the fair, he said.

“When the world visits Minneapolis, it will experience the way we embrace the outdoors during every season and witness the way we value infrastructure that encourages healthy behaviors,” Ward 4 City Councilwoman Barb Johnson said in a letter last month to the committee working to bring the fair to Minnesota.

Ritchie said the official bid will be submitted in May. The project will be a public-private partnership with no requests for government funding, according to the bid committee.

Ward 3 City Councilman Jacob Frey said Minneapolis is deserving of recognition on a global scale and that it’s time the city shares its health and holistic thinking with the rest of the world.

“A city can never quite know what it will become after hosting an expo,” Chappell said. “But it’s a safe bet it will never be the same again and they’ll forever cherish that time.

Carter Jones, Minnesota Daily | October 22, 2015

Read article HERE


The Minneapolis City Council voted to support the designation of Minnesota as the official site of Expo 2023. Mayor Betsy Hodges and Council President Barbara Johnson wrote the following letter of support.


Minnesota officials continue to push for the state as a contender for an event considered as big as 10 consecutive Olympic Games.

The Minneapolis City Council approved a letter of support for “Expo 2023” on Wednesday, outlining the reasons why the city and the surrounding metro area would be an ideal place for such an event.

“The city has embraced 2023 Expo’s theme of ‘Wellness and Well Being for All,’” the letter states. “We have a long tradition of establishing  strong relationships with cities throughout the world through our Sister Cities program. Our colleges and universities have educated and been enriched by students from all corners of the globe. Many of our global students have remained in Minneapolis and the region to start companies or work for local firms.”

The letter also highlights large events hosted in the region in the past, as well as a dedication to health and wellbeing in the state.

View the letter here.

While the letter approved Wednesday shows Minneapolis’ willingness to host Expo 2023, it still needs to be approved by the full council.

Recently, a 19-member delegation returned from a trip to the ongoing World’s Fair in Milan, in an effort to find out what it takes to land such a large event. Two more delegations will travel to Milan this month before that World’s Fair concludes.

Rebecca Omastiak, KSTP  |  October 7, 2015 – 3:42 PM

Read article HERE


It’s an event billed as being as big as 10 consecutive Olympic Games, and it could be held in Minnesota.

A small team of Minnesotans is quietly trying to lure a slightly smaller version of the World’s Fair to the Twin Cities. The event has been dubbed “Expo 2023.”

A 19-member delegation just returned from a trip to the ongoing World’s Fair in Milan, in an effort to find out what it takes to land such a huge event.

Stephen Tellier, KSTP  |  September 14, 2015 – 10:00 PM

Read article or view video HERE


Minnesota Expo 2023 named in Host City interview with International Expositions Bureau (BIE)’s Dimitri Kerkentzes

Ben Avison, Host City  |  September 1, 2015 – 10:36 AM
Original Host City article HERE

Hosting a World Expo requires space, investment and a long term development plan. Get the mix right and it’s a platform to reach the world, says Dimitri Kerkentzes, chief of staff at the International Expositions Bureau (BIE)

To say that hosting a World or International Expo is a major undertaking would be an understatement of the biggest order.

“Whether we are talking about an International Expo or a World Expo, these are three to six month events. They are not the three weeks of the Olympic Games or the four weeks of the World Cup,” Dimitri Kerkentzes, chief of staff at the International Expositions Bureau (BIE) told HOST CITY.

The World Expo Milan 2015, which is running from 1 May through to the end of October, covers a site of 100 hectares with 145 countries participating.

Exhibiting nations install themselves on an Expo site up to a year in advance to build their pavilions, which can take up to a year after the Expo to dismantle.

“Even in the case of a smaller International Expo, we are talking about hosting people for a minimum of six to eight months. So this is quite a feat.”


Emerging destinations

Undeterred by the scale of the project, cities from all over the world continue to vie for the hosting rights. The Kazakh capital Astana is hosting the 2017 International Expo, for which the Belgian city of Liege also applied.

Hosting an event on this scale is a rare opportunity to reaching the global public.

“Whatever the major event is, whether it be cultural or sporting, it’s for them an opening up to the world.

“It’s the president’s point of view that Kazakhstan should be one of the world’s top 30 developed countries within the coming years. And this is an opportunity for them to show what they can accomplish and what they have accomplished.

“You’ve seen a lot of developing countries deciding that they want to invite the world to be present in their cities and it’s one of the best ways for them to achieve this.”

Dubai won the right to host the 2020 World Expo, rising above competition from Izmir in Turkey, Yekaterinburg in Russia and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Already an international city renowned for as a hub for business, Dubai sees the World Expo as an opportunity to project a new image to the world.

“They are a very particular case where a country, which is basically a desert country, has to be able to deal with modern infrastructure and living requirements – and this is one of the key points where they are trying to brand themselves with the Expo; it’s how not only are they a hub, but they are a sustainable hub.”

Dubai is aiming to attract at least 20 million visitors in 2020 but, says Kerkentzes, achieving this will require about 70 per cent of visitors to come from overseas.

By way of contrast, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai attracted 73 million visitors in six months, just seven to eight per cent of whom were overseas visitors.

“The true meaning of an Expo is that the messages and the education is for the global public, not limited to one subsection of global citizens.

“And then you have to be realistic – there are certain Expos where you may have more foreign visitors than you do locals.”

Astana has less than a million inhabitants in a country with a population of around 18 million. “What we expect to see there is – apart from the usual Expo lovers that travel from all over the world – citizens of Kazakhstan and also the neighboring countries.”


Who’s bidding for Expo 2025?

Milan is on course to hit its target of 20 million visitors and the event is attracting other global cities to bid for future Expos, Kerkentzes says.

“Proof of the fact that the World Expo is useful even in an economic powerhouse of a city like Milan is the fact that for 2025 we already have interest from Paris, from London, from Rotterdam, from Osaka and Johannesburg – so it shows that the case that Milan has been looked at by major European and world cities and they want to perhaps try and do the same themselves in 2025.”

The UK government has said that it will bid but has not yet said which city it will put forward to bid in 2016. The BIE has been contacted by several UK cities.

“The UK showed how good an Olympic Games could be for a city. London is one of the most famous capitals in the world, so why not try and brand other UK cities as well and use an Expo to do it? It’s very logical and it’s something the government will have to take into close consideration and make a final decision on next year.”

Similarly, other cities in France are interested in getting involved in an Expo bid. “It would have to be the government that would decide which would be the bidding cities.”

US cities such as Houston and Silicon Valley have also expressed an interest in hosting an Expo, but as the national government has not paid its BIE membership since 2001 it would need to be successfully lobbied before any bid could be lodged.

“There is a very strong pressure from Minnesota to bid for Expo 2023 and they are working on trying to get the government to re-join the BIE,” says Kerkentzes.

The Canadian government also withdrew from the BIE in 2012. “Canada hosted many Expos in the past and has always participated in Expos. I know that there is very keen interest from the new Mayor to maybe bid for 2025, but he has to work on the internal politics on bringing Canada back.”

The cities expressing an interest in hosting the 2025 World Expo are largely developed, western world cities.

“If you were to receive only developing cities or developing countries, people could criticize, saying Expos are no longer for developed countries and global cities like New York, London and Paris. There are always improvements that can be made in a city and I think an Expo can always help in that.”

Cities can submit a bid for a world Expo nine years before the proposed opening date of the next Expo. The BIE expects bids for 2025 to start arriving in the first and second quarter of 2016, with the voting for the event set to take place either at the end of 2017 or mid-2018.

The bids will be judged on a number of criteria – not just the theme.

“From the BIE, to ensure that Expos remain very high value for the candidates and the hosts, we have to make sure that there are positive impacts from all sides.

“Theme is of course primordial in an Expo; it has to be something of global interest, but we have to make sure all the other points are properly looked at and taken care of.”

“The location is key as well, to make sure that people can get there, that it’s an interesting place to visit and that it can attract tourism that it requires.”

But just as the International Olympic Committee has increased its emphasis on the sustainability and legacy benefit of hosting the Games through its Agenda 2020 program of reform, the BIE places great emphasis on how hosting an Expo can boost a city’s development plans.

“We have to make sure that the Expo can be of benefit to the host city, that it can help with its branding, it can help with its development – and that what will be left behind after the Expo will be of use to the city and to its citizens.

“I think it’s important to remember that the infrastructure that’s built around these events is not purely for the event itself; it’s infrastructure that’s already foreseen in the development of the city and the country. And whether it’s an Expo, an Olympics or the World Cup, this is just a catalyst to get it done quicker.

“Lessons have been learned. All the organizations responsible for these different mega events are putting them into action now and making sure that, no matter which type of event a city goes for, it will be of benefit to the world but also to the country and the city that’s hosting it.”

With this in mind, the potential rewards of hosting an Expo are great, Kerkentzes says.

“Usually you see from reports after an Expo that the participating countries found the investment has been well spent; that the amount of communication and branding for their own country abroad has helped growth in tourism and in sales.”


Dimitri Kerkentzes is to speak at HOST CIY 2015 on 9th and 10th November on the subject of “How Cities and Events Innovate to Thrive”. 


The USA Pavilion welcomed over 34,000 people on August 11th.  In the first ten days of August, the pavilion has seen a 47% increase in its visitors, compared to the first ten days of July.

For more info on the daily “food talks” taking place at the US pavilion, check out: http://blogs.state.gov/stories/2015/08/07/conversations-change-terrace-talks-usa-pavilion-milan-expo


Seann Nelipinath hopes the U.S.-India Healthcare Summit he has helped organize as chairman of the India Chamber of Commerce-USA will spur business partnerships between the two countries.

Nelipinath said he also would like to see the summit, which the Consulate of India in Chicago also assisted in organizing, evolve into a yearly event that helps build momentum for the 2023 World’s Fair, known as Expo 2023.

A member of the advisory group that is bidding to bring the science and technology fair to Minnesota, Nelipinath conceived of the health care summit as a way to support the “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” theme the group has chosen for Expo 2023.

Todd Nelson, Star Tribune  |  July 24, 2015 – 8:59 PM

Read the full Star Tribune article HERE


Minneapolis City Council members on Wednesday threw their weight behind a campaign to bring the World’s Fair to Minnesota in 2023.

The council’s Committee of the Whole expressed enthusiasm for the three-month event, expected to draw between 10 million and 15 million visitors, and said they would push staffers to link the city’s government relations staff with the expo’s organizers to advance the event.

Unanimous approval from the committee for the city’s help comes as former Secretary of State Mark Ritchie spearheads a $1.5 million bid process to put Minnesota in the running for the fair. Since formally introducing the push in April, he has met with public officials, trade groups and other stakeholders.

“It would be incredible to have this in Minnesota,” Council Member Andrew Johnson said after Mark Ritchie, now the CEO of Expo 2023, gave a presentation on the event.

Karlee Weinmann, Finance & Commerce | July 22, 2015 – 2:37 PM

Read the full Finance & Commerce article HERE


Imagine Minnesota hosting 10 consecutive Olympic Games, or a state-fair-sized crowd every day for three months. Could the Twin Cities really pull that off?

On Wednesday, the Minneapolis City Council said it likes the idea of hosting a version of the World’s Fair eight years from now.

Stephen Tellier, KSTP.com  |  July 22, 2015 – 10:16 PM

Read the full KSTP article HERE