Minnesota just wrapped up another fantastic effort as host of a national event — in this case, the NCAA Women's Final Four Basketball Championship.

Whether you are a basketball fan or not, it is important to acknowledge the power of these opportunities to bring visitors and visibility to our region. As the headline in the New York Times on Sunday proclaimed, "Minnesota, a mecca of women's basketball, is having its moment."

As the CEO of Delta Dental of Minnesota, I am proud our organization had the opportunity to participate in such a well-orchestrated and inspiring event, which provided a well-deserved boost for our region.

Beyond bringing tens of thousands of visitors to the metropolitan area for the past week, this NCAA Women's Final Four effort celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the milestone for bringing gender equity into all educational opportunities, including athletics. As a result, there are yearlong, statewide activities honoring the achievements of women in myriad fields of endeavor, a fun reading program for third-graders across the state, as well as a new basketball court installed at a school in north Minneapolis.

The week's celebrations began with almost two dozen executive women leaders from across the Twin Cities coming together to kick off the Title IX 50th Anniversary Celebration at Mall of America in a friendly game of HORSE — or "FLOSS," as we like to call it at Delta Dental. Under the bright 20-by-30-foot digital screen displaying "If you see her, you can be her," these business, sports and community leaders, many multiple sport athletes themselves, offered inspiring examples of the powerful impact of those 37 words of Title IX.

For the hotels, restaurants and operators of venues around the metropolitan area, the infusion of more than $25 million in visitor spending has brought the prospect of recovery from the challenges of the past couple years. It was great to see and feel the vitality of all the people in downtown Minneapolis, in particular. And the images of our beautiful region viewed by millions during the broadcasts over the last weekend will pay dividends as we rebuild our tourism and hospitality sectors.

Our next challenge: creating sustainable momentum to ensure we can effectively compete with other cities to bring other major events into our region. Who is focused on that challenge?

It turns out that the answer is a small 501(c)(6) nonprofit: Minnesota Sports and Events (MNSE), which was formed in 2020 as the permanent organization to bid on and execute large-scale events with the mission of bringing economic, reputational and community impact back to our state. MNSE hit a home run on Women's Final Four by utilizing creativity and collaboration of thousands of volunteers and corporate sponsors. MNSE is also working to bring systematic, professional attention to attract more of these impactful opportunities that bring visitors to our region.

Yes, we have successfully hosted Super Bowls, Major League Baseball All-Star Games and most recently the NCAA Men's Final Four — yet each time has required superhuman efforts, expertly choreographed by a group of individuals and corporate sponsors. Funding raised to pay for these events does not leave the market; it goes to pay for public safety, security, venues and operations of these events.

It is important that we recognize what is required to successfully compete to host major events again in the future.

MNSE is currently pursuing more than 30 opportunities to bring collegiate, Olympic and professional sports events to our region over the next decade. The potential economic impact is approximately $1 billion. MNSE partners with the tourism teams of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington, as well as leverages the assets of the University of Minnesota and all of our professional sports teams, to produce inspiring proposals representing our world-class regional capabilities to host world-class events.

However, the competition to host major events is strong and has become much more challenging — not unlike some of the down-to-the-wire women's games on the road to the NCAA basketball championship. There are several other states and metropolitan areas, including Indiana, Texas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Florida, that have become better organized most notably by creating sustainable funding sources to support their efforts.

Increasingly, the event decisionmaker's first considerations center around an organization's financial strength and clear evidence that a host community will invest in itself. Investing in ourselves to ensure a thriving tourism and hospitality sector and the potential favorable upside seems like a wise move for our businesses and communities alike.

Let's find a reasonable, sustainable way to support the critical work of MNSE. If you want to learn more, go to www.mnsportsandevents.org.

Rod Young is CEO and president of Delta Dental Minnesota, which was a partner for Women's Final Four Minneapolis.