What’s Next with Meet Minneapolis CEO Melvin Tennant

July 26, 2018  |  BY Jim Vos

Melvin Tennant Photo (1)

Cresa is committed to building a community of learning. Our customers look to us for insight not just on what’s happening in real estate, but what’s happening in the markets and industries we serve. In our new interview series “What’s Next,” we’ll highlight the Twin Cities leaders whose big ideas will shape the future of work.

Ten years ago Melvin Tennant was a newcomer to Minneapolis. He had worked for many years in destination marketing, and came to the city for his final interview with Meet Minneapolis on Super Bowl weekend in 2007. Temperatures hovered around minus-10 degrees. Despite the cold, he and his family made the move. That was good news for our city, as Tennant has brought a passion and vision to his work.

“Our job is to sell Minneapolis to the world,” he says. “That’s a big responsibility, and we have a team of professionals who do this for a living, day in and day out. While we get to work on signature events like the Super Bowl, the X Games and the Final Four, most of what we do is below the radar. Every group we bring in, and every visitor we attract, helps support jobs in our community.”

His latest challenge was dreaming up a new way for the Meet Minneapolis team to work. The organization had worked in its previous office for 15 years, but they were ready for a change. We asked Tennant how the team planned its big move and what the new office represents about the future of downtown Minneapolis.

Planning a Major Move

The decision to move a 60-person organization doesn’t come easily. But as the Meet Minneapolis leadership team looked out at the next 10 years, they asked whether their office space would accommodate where they were going as an organization. The team ultimately decided that the location and configuration wouldn’t work long term, so they started looking at options.

Working with Cresa and their architectural design partner, DLR Group, Tennant and the team defined specific criteria: proximity to major partners including the Minneapolis Convention Center, parking availability and pricing (for staff and guests), the ability to configure the space for collaboration, amenities in the building, proximity to restaurants and shopping, and access to transit. The team looked at a dozen buildings before deciding on the winning space.

A New Office Focused on Collaboration and Community

The previous office had four long corridors that divided people into siloes. “It’s difficult for our team members to pop over to a colleague for a quick huddle because of our layout. In theory, people working in different departments might not see each other all week.”

“We have become more nimble and responsive as an organization, and we need an environment that supports that. Collaboration is one of our core values, and so many of our projects require multiple departments to work together. Our new space was designed to nurture more collaboration and face-to-face meetings.”

The new office will include many more meeting and huddle spaces. Even the lunch room is being designed to promote collaboration.

Inside the new office space, the team is incorporating various features that will highlight the local area. Minnesota vendors and artisans will contribute a Minneapolis-inspired mural, the front desk, the tile used throughout and many other elements of the design.

The Future for Downtown

The new Meet Minneapolis office at 801 Marquette is close to the convention center and the region’s largest hotel, the Hilton. “One of the things our customers and visitors both like is our organic and dynamic city center and compact urban footprint. More people are moving downtown — the Downtown Council set a goal of 70,000 downtown residents by 2025. When you’re selling a destination, the critical mass of people living in the area brings in services and amenities organically.” He points to the recent Trader Joe’s opening and the boom of new restaurants, bars and shops. “These things are good for residents, but visitors enjoy them too! Our new space will allow us to be more of a part of that downtown experience.”


Tennant’s advice for other leaders who are considering a move?

1. Look at your organization well into the future and try to determine what it will require to remain relevant.

2. Evaluate all of your options, even those that don’t immediately appeal to you. The Meet Minneapolis team saw a lot of spaces, and the information they gathered led them to the right choice.

3. Build consensus along the way. Because the team went through such an intentional process and did thorough due diligence, the board had complete confidence in the final decision.

“I’ve learned so much through this process, and the advisors at Cresa have made all the difference in the world,” he says.