Event trade

Volleyball said to pack $50 million impact

It doesn't take a Super Bowl to ring downtown cash registers.

The normally fallow Fourth of July weekend proved a boom for downtown restaurateurs and hoteliers thanks to a bunch of amateur volleyball players. In fact, more than 40,000 players, coaches and related visitors participated in the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships at the Minneapolis Convention Center that concluded its 10-day run Tuesday, making it the single biggest visitor event of the year.

Meet Minneapolis, the visitors bureau, estimated USA Volleyball would have a $50 million local economic impact. Meet Minneapolis estimates that visitors spend $300-plus a day, including food and lodging. Assuming a four-day stay per attendee, that gets you to $50 million.

At Hell's Kitchen, the popular downtown restaurant, Pat Forciea, president and minority owner, said they averaged nearly $240,000 per week during the 10-day tournament, compared with the normal weekly average of about $170,000.

Forciea said the restaurant, which employs 180 people, last set a weekly revenue record two years ago for the same USA Volleyball tournament. This proves, if nothing else, that amateur girls volleyball is as powerful as the National Football League, at least for a couple weeks, when it comes to grass-roots spending.

It doesn't hurt Loop business that the eye-catching Minnesota Twins started an important homestand last Monday. That trade, however, is mostly local fans who may run the downtown bar-and-food tab but generally aren't renting many hotel rooms.

Kristen Montag, a marketer with Meet Minneapolis, said the next largest event this year after USA Volleyball will be this week's "X Games."

Last year, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee estimated that the Twin Cities area could reap $338 million in economic activity from the February 2018 game. However, economists often question the financial projections behind big-bang professional sports events.

Neal St. Anthony

economic research

Oil rig count leads to bigger families

Economists long have studied the link between economic improvement and family formation and child birth.

A new study by two economists at the University of Maryland seems to confirm the hypothesis that better economic prospects lead to higher fertility, according to the most recent edition of the Economist. Melissa Kearney and Riley Wilson found no effect on marriage rates associated with the recent North American oil-and-gas hydraulic fracturing boom, although fertility rates did rise.

In fact, the economists concluded that each $1,000 of extra fracking production per person mean an extra six births per 1,000 women.

"The results confirm the hypothesis that better economic prospects lead to higher fertility," the Economist wrote. "But it also sheds light on changing social mores; good times used to mean more wedding bells and babies, whereas now they just mean the latter."

Neal St. Anthony

Business outlook

Short-term outlook strong for 7-county metro

Most of Minnesota should continue to experience economic growth over the next several months, according to forecasts released by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs Research Institute.

The Twin Cities metro area, central, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest regions will experience either increased or steady economic growth in the coming months. The unemployment rate decreased in all six regions and new-business filings increased in four of the six.

"We continue to see solid economic performance across Minnesota's six planning areas, with a particularly strong outlook in the Twin Cities, southeast, southwest and northeast regions," said Rich MacDonald, co-author of the Minnesota Regional Economic and Business Conditions report and interim director of the School of Public Affairs Research Institute at St. Cloud State University.

"Labor market conditions remain strong as job vacancies remain elevated. Regional bankruptcies continue to trend downward and new business filings are rising across most of the state."

The seven-county Twin Cities-area economy should see strong economic growth, according to a variety of economic indicators.

There were 11,380 new business filings in the metro area in the first quarter of 2017, a 1.5 percent increase from one year ago.

Employment increased by 1.5 percent over the year ending March 2017.

The regional unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in March, a decrease from its reading one year earlier.

Sixty percent of new business filers in the Twin Cities area completed the voluntary Minnesota Business Snapshot survey in the first quarter.

More than 14 percent were minorities; nearly 5 percent veterans and 8 percent immigrants. Thirty-seven percent were initiated by women.

NEAL ST. ANTHONY