Minneapolis expo for local Black businesses spent more taxpayer funds on out-of-state businesses
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An independent report released by the city of Minneapolis has found that most of the nearly $500,000 in taxpayer dollars spent to celebrate local Black businesses at a February expo actually went to businesses based outside the state.
The businesses provided food, entertainment and other event needs, the report said. The city paid $269,500 from its general fund to a total of 25 vendors in Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Maryland, and it paid about $230,000 to its 35 vendors in Minnesota.
City Council Member Linea Palmisano, who chairs the city’s audit committee, said: “I’m extremely disappointed that this event was promoted as a celebration of Black History Month and supporting local Black businesses ended up expending almost as many city funds to out-of-state businesses,” Minnesota Public Radio reported.
Baker Tilly, a public accounting and consulting firm, prepared the independent report for the city auditor’s office after the expo — titled “I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams” and hosted by the city’s Department of Race, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging — fell far short of expectations.
The expo was expected to attract up to 20,000 attendees, but only 3,700 registered and fewer than that attended, according to the report.
The fallout led to the resignation of Tyeastia Green, who was hired last year as the department’s director, the Star Tribune reported. Green’s actions, along with those of a contractor she selected to run the event, were at the center of the Baker Tilly report.
Green did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Associated Press on Wednesday.