'Forever changed': Minnesota hopes to become next site for World Expo

- Minnesota just might be the site of the next World's Fair.

Now called "World Expos," the events might not be the iconic extravaganzas of old, but they still have the potential to draw millions to their host cities. 

"Healthy People, Healthy Planet" is Minnesota's proposed theme for 2023, with an announcement expected Wednesday in Paris on the event's final site. Delegations from Minnesota and the U.S. State Department are currently in France awaiting the outcome, with Minnesota up against sites in Poland and Argentina.

The American bid committee is touting not only the region’s reputation for healthy lifestyles, but the proximity of academic and medical institutions that are also leaders in the subject.

“What we keep hearing back is the theme is a really powerful one," said Kathy Tunheim, a member of the Expo 2023 Advisory group. "It's a theme that has resonated with literally every country around the world, because each in our own way, each country has challenges related to health.”

The potential site includes land which is now a working farm near the Mall of America, and sits a short distance away from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

It would be the first expo in the U.S. since the 1984 World Expo in New Orleans, with an expected 12 million people passing through the region over a 10-month period.

“This has a real global feel to it, and there's a seriousness about a lot of the information that's being brought there,” Tunheim said. “Lots of people, lots of different things to look at, lots of both entertainment and education."

Minnesota is also opting to bid for a shorter, three-month specialized expo, like the one in Astana, Kazakstan this past summer. 

“We expect there to be legacy here in the region--we don't know if it's a physical thing or if it's programmatic, but the idea we will be forever changed because we had the opportunity to bring the world here will be very much a part of it,” Tunheim said. 

The vote is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday in Paris--which is 10 a.m. back home in Minnesota.

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