By Patti Gartland, GSDC President and Metropolitan Airports Commission Vice Chair
The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) was created by the MN Legislature in 1943 to promote air navigation and transportation across all levels – international, national, state and local. Now in its 75th year, the MAC owns and operates seven airports including Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP) and six general aviation facilities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
In late September, the 8th annual “State of the Airport Luncheon” was hosted at the newly constructed InterContinental MSP Airport Hotel. More than 600 business and community leaders convened to celebrate MSP – a coveted jewel and economic engine for the State of MN. This claim is easily supported with an impressive slate of facts:
· 16th busiest passenger traffic in the nation, serving 38 million travelers and 416,213 takeoffs and landings in 2017
· Offers direct service to 164 destinations – including the addition of recently announced new destinations of Seoul, South Korea and Dublin, Ireland
· Generates $15.9 billion in annual economic activity
· Sustains nearly 87,000 jobs, more than 21,000 of which are directly tied to airport operations
· Recognized for the second year in a row as Best Airport in North America based on on-premise traveler surveys.
And, from top to bottom and start to finish, MSP is being reimagined. In the past three years, four gates have been added to Terminal 2/Humphrey, 50 new shops and restaurants have opened, construction of a new 5,000 space parking ramp and 30 additional restaurants is underway, and MSP’s first hotel – InterContinental MSP Airport opened. Of note, Graves Hospitality is the co-developer of the hotel. The father-son duo, Jim Graves and Ben Graves, hail from St. Cloud.
MSP is a critical gateway and access to global markets for business and industry in our region. And, one of the key priorities of the MAC is to enhance and optimize the complete travel experience for MSP customers – meaning from the time they book their flight via MSP to their arrival at their destination. For MSP patrons from the greater St. Cloud region, the greatest opportunity for improving their travel experience that is within the realm of the MAC centers on parking and ground transportation.
In support of efforts to improve total customer experience at MSP, particularly its parking and ground transportation functions, MAC executives recently convened at the GSDC in a CEO roundtable discussion with seven industry leaders from our region. In addition to a range of new technology, pricing and operational options being explored, a variety of helpful insights, observations and suggestions were shared.
Special thanks and appreciation to our CEO Roundtable participants:
Joan Schatz, Co-President, Park Industries
Darin Byrne, VP, Wolters Kluwer
Christie Schulte, In House Counsel, Coborn’s Inc.
Aaron Fisk, VP of Human Resources, Microbiologics
Tosh Brinkerhoff, President & CEO, Geringhoff – North America
John Bryant, President & CEO, Geo-Comm
Bryan Burns, President & CEO, DeZurik, Inc.