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

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