Out-of-state and international visitors attending LifeScience Alley's December conference will get the opportunity to go on facility tours to some of Minnesota's iconic businesses, but they'll have to pay.
A tour at the Mayo Clinic costs $139 extra for full conference registrants. For all other registrants it costs $219.
The same cost applies for a separate tour of 3M's Innovation Center and the University of Minnesota's Medical Device Center.
A 45-minute walking tour of the Mall of America costs $49 (the website currently says $249, but that's a typo, according to LifeScience Alley).
Those group tours can normally be booked through the mall for $6.50 per person, but that doesn't include transportation in getting there.
Ryan Baird, director of marketing and communications for LifeScience Alley, said the charges cover logistics and transportation costs. The association and companies involved are not profiting from the tour costs, Baird said.
"The whole point of it is to showcase some of the institutions here and the capabilities that we have for people who are coming outside of Minnesota," Baird said.
My advice to conference goers wanting to shop at the mega-mall? Walk a few blocks from the Minneapolis Convention Center to the light rail and pay at most $2.25 for a ride to the mall. Then, you'll get to walk around the mega-mall for free.