Skip to Content
Session A

Minneapolis Reimagined: Community Leaders Discuss the Revitalization of Downtown

Presented By: Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP

This keynote panel address will be a panel discussion focused on downtown revitalization and the role that the business community leaders in attendance can play in making a dynamic and vibrant downtown a reality. From sustainable development to innovative approaches, we aim to shed light on empowering communities and fostering a prosperous future through collective action and leadership. Join us as we unravel the dynamics of urban revitalization and celebrate the visionaries driving positive change in our cities.


Dennis Knoer
Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP

Dennis is a partner and the Chair of the Minneapolis Business Law Practice at Taft. He delivers sophisticated legal counsel on complex transactions, placing a premium on client service and efficiency. Dennis represents public and private companies, as well as private equity funds, with their M&A needs, assembling transactional teams to leverage deep practice and industry knowledge and provide effective results.


Steve Cramer
President & CEO
Minneapolis Downtown Council

Steve Cramer is President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District. He has a long career in civic affairs in the Minneapolis, leading non-profit and government agencies and serving on numerous boards and commissions.


Mayor Jacob Frey
City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey grew up in northern Virginia and went to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on a track scholarship. After graduating with a degree in government, he began running professionally while attending law school at Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That’s when he came to Minneapolis to run the Twin Cities Marathon and when he fell in love with the city. The day after graduating, he drove 1,200 miles west to Minneapolis, his chosen home.

As an employment and civil rights attorney, Jacob became an active community organizer. In 2011, he led efforts to launch the Big Gay Race, which raised over $250,000 to help defeat the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman. He also became involved in advocacy for those experiencing homelessness, helping tenants who lost their homes in North Minneapolis. In 2012, the City of Minneapolis awarded its inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Award to Jacob for his civil rights work.

Jacob successfully ran to represent the Third Ward on the city council in 2013. As a Council Member, Jacob focused on constituent services, increasing residential growth, growing the number and variety of small and local businesses, and fully funding affordable housing.

Since his election as Mayor in 2017, Jacob has championed an agenda centered on increasing access to affordable housing throughout the city, strengthening community-police relations, and fueling economic growth through inclusive policies. He has successfully secured record-setting investments for the city’s affordable housing work, boosting efforts to expand and preserve affordable housing. Jacob has worked with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to shift the department’s culture, enhance accountability, and prioritize officer wellness. From strengthening the police department’s body camera policy to overhauling the department’s use of force policy, Jacob has been persistent in improving public safety in Minneapolis. And to help bridge the city’s racial disparities, the mayor has targeted resources where they’re needed most to accelerate economic growth. He worked with his Council Colleagues to establish seven new Cultural Districts, areas prioritized for investment. To help ensure more entrepreneurs of color have a fair shot at owning their property, he created a first-of-its-kind Commercial Property Development Fund to target resources to neighborhoods that have historically experienced disinvestment.

Benjamin Hawn
President & Chief Operating Officer
Pohlad Companies

Ben Hawn is Chief Operating Officer at Pohlad Companies. Prior to joining Pohlad Companies, Ben served as Managing Partner and General Counsel for Argentem Creek Partners LP in Minnetonka. Previous to his work with Argentem, Ben also had significant experience at Pine River Capital Management as Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel, and at Faegre Drinker, working in private equity M&A. Ben graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Hamilton College in 1998 and served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2003. He received his Juris Doctor, Magna Cum Laude, from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007.


Gavin Kaysen
Chef & Owner
Soigné Hospitality Group

Gavin Kaysen is the award-winning chef and founder of Soigné Hospitality Group in Minneapolis known for his nationally renowned restaurants and cafés in the Twin Cities as well as his leadership in the culinary profession.

In October of 2022 Kaysen released his first cookbook titled "At Home" filled with approachable recipes to inspire novices and professionals alike. Chef Kaysen is passionate about mentorship and creating a more professional work environment for hospitalitarians.

He is the proud recipient of two James Beard Awards, "Rising Star Chef of the Year" in 2008, and "Best Chef: Midwest" in 2018. He is the executive culinary producer for the 2022 reboot of "Iron Chef" on Netflix.


Conference Location

6200 Interlachen Blvd.
Minneapolis, MN 55436
Tel: 952.929.1661