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EMT Express

EMT Express provides biweekly news and tips for the people who market Minnesota tourism.

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EMT Express - March 13, 2019

Como Conservatory in Winter - Photo By Visit Saint Paul

Gov. Walz First Budget Includes Tourism Funding

Last month, Gov. Walz released his budget recommendations for the next biennium. In summary, the recommendation includes funding for the continuation of the New Events grant program at $1 million each for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, which follows the recommendation made by the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council. There was no increase to the base budget for Explore Minnesota (any increases reflected are to cover adjustments to pensions).

Following the governor’s budget recommendations, the Senate Environment Finance Committee held a hearing that included the tourism funding bill reflecting Tourism Council recommendations. Anna Tanski (Visit Duluth), Terry Mattson (Visit Saint Paul) and Sarah Psick (Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition) provided testimony regarding new event grant funding and Explore Minnesota’s base budget. At the House Environment Finance Committee meeting, John Edman presented the governor’s tourism budget recommendation and articulated the use and purpose for both the base budget and new events grant funding.

Explore Minnesota Selects New Website Vendor

Miles Partnership is Explore Minnesota’s new website vendor, who was selected via a competitive RFP process. Miles is charged with producing and maintaining the new, which will feature a mobile-first design, flexible and user-friendly backend systems, and best-in-class functionality, drawing on their experience working with DMOs all over the world.

Work has already begun: The team is wrapping up the discovery phase this month, and will move into development and design this spring and summer. The site is expected to be up and running by winter 2020.

Explore Minnesota Targets NCAA Fans with Final Four Campaign

As the host state for the 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four, Minnesota is sure to be top of mind for basketball fans as a premier sports and entertainment destination. To capitalize on this weeks-long televised event, commonly known as March Madness, Explore Minnesota is targeting NCAA tournament “superfans.” As the tournament progresses, the advertising will ramp up and focus on Sweet 16 and Elite Eight markets who have elevated interest in the Final Four.

In addition to paid social media and digital ads, Minnesota will be featured on the official website and within live game content via streaming TV. Advertising will link to a variety of content areas touting the Final Four, along with other must-see Minnesota attractions.

To round out the campaign, Explore Minnesota is partnering with Travelzoo, a global media company that offers travel deals and inspiration to its millions of members, to feature Minnesota in a custom article. The content will be promoted to over 2 million travel enthusiasts and feature things to do while here for the Final Four, as well as planting future Minnesota travel ideas.

Brand USA 2018 Results

The Brand USA FY18 Playbook provides an overview of international marketing programs and results from Explore Minnesota’s partnership with Brand USA during fiscal year 18 (Oct. 1, 2017 - Sept. 30, 2018), with links to various campaign assets that feature Minnesota in destinations across the globe.

John Edman Wins Lifetime Achievement Award from Meet Minneapolis


At the Meet Minneapolis annual meeting last month, Explore Minnesota Director John Edman received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his career of service to the Minnesota tourism industry. Stressing that he’s “not done yet,” Edman has served under four Minnesota governors, is a Brand USA board member, and has served on various regional and national commissions and boards throughout his tenure, including Mississippi River Country, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center, MSP Airport Foundation, Great Lakes USA and the National Council of State Travel Directors.

John would like to thank his staff, colleagues and countless partners for their ongoing support and hard work on behalf of the Minnesota tourism industry.

Still Time to Register for the MNFEA Conference

The Minnesota Festivals and Events Association (MNFEA) will host its annual conference at the Best Western Plus Kelly Inn in St. Cloud March 13-15.

This year's conference will be packed with valuable information for event and festival professionals, vendors and service providers. Click here for the conference schedule:

Register here!

Learn about Sponsorships for Festivals and Events

The University of Minnesota Tourism Center is offering a one-week online course on sponsorship for festivals and events April 8-13.

Sponsorships and strategic partnerships are important elements to sustainable events. Participants will learn how to identify partners, create sponsorship packages and tailored outreach, and strategies for sponsorship renewal. You will also have an opportunity to hear from expert practitioners, and create your own sponsorship program for your event.  

Register by March 29 and save $50! The early bird rate is $99 per person, or $149 after March 29.

For registration and more information, please visit the course webpage or contact the Tourism Center at

Save the Date to Celebrate Travel Matters, May 5-11

National Travel and Tourism Week is an annual tradition for the U.S. travel community. It’s a time when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal well-being.

The Toolkit is now available on the U.S. Travel Association website.

Register for Scenic Byway Leader Training May 7-8

Designed for new and renewed byway leaders throughout the nation, the Scenic Byway Leader Training will be held May 7-8 in Sandstone. The event is sponsored by the National Scenic Byway Foundation (NSBF), hosted by the East Central Regional Development Commission, the St. Croix Scenic Byway, Veteran’s Evergreen Byway, Lake Mille Lacs Scenic Byway and their partners.

Expect to learn:

  • How byway organizations are thriving without federal dollars
  • Corridor Management Plan (CMP) strategies for funding opportunities
  • Priorities for marketing, partnerships and fundraising
  • Byway jargon – viewshed protection; wayfinding; pull-off interpretation; etc.

Presenters Jan Gammon, Chris Sieverdes, Penny Simonsen, and Sharon Strouse (all NSBF board members) will lead the sessions. The cost is $95 and includes meals/snacks and all materials. Reduced rate overnight accommodations will be offered at the Audubon Center of the North Woods, Lowry Lodge. The Center is 5 miles from I-35, with hotel accommodations available.

Scholarships are available for attendees registered from East Central Minnesota (Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties). Scholarship inquiries can be made to

Contact Sharon Strouse, for registration information, overnight accommodations at the Center and questions. Registration deadline is April 10.

Grants Aim to Get More People Hunting and Fishing

Groups that help people become hunters or anglers—or keep on hunting or fishing—can apply for grants from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Priority in awarding grants will go to programs for new and diverse audiences and those with an ongoing impact rather than one-time events. Types of activities could include fishing or hunting educational programs, clinics, workshops, camps, or funding for fishing and hunting equipment and transportation.

Groups may apply for this round of grants through Thursday, April 4. The grant program began in 2015 and this is the fifth round of grants. In this round, awards will range from $5,000 to $49,999. A total of $300,000 in grant funds is available in this fifth-round cycle. Funded projects must be located in Minnesota and completed by June 30, 2020.

As in the last round, there is no required funding match. Organizations are nonetheless encouraged to include a cash or in-kind match in their project proposal. In-kind contributions can be in the form of labor, materials, or services. Match amounts will be considered in the selection process.

To learn more about the DNR’s work in recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3), and to find grant application requirements, visit Details about the grant and a list of award winners can be found at the link under “Help others discover.”

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