Baker Tilly LLP released a report for the Minneapolis City Auditor’s Office on Monday, showing that most of the $680,978 in taxpayer dollars allocated to the Black Business Expo in February went to out-of-state businesses. Worse yet, the event fell fall short of bringing in the expected 20,000 visitors that the city had hoped.
This event was supposed to support local black-owned businesses in Minneapolis. In reality, it may have ended up hurting them. MPR News reported in April that many business owners were disappointed with the event. They noted that small businesses spent money that they didn’t have to prepare for promised demand. When attendance fell short, businesses had to eat their losses.
The waste of taxpayer funds and lack of attendance can be blamed on poor event planning. Baker Tilly also sounded the alarm on duplicate invoices being received from vendors, some of which may have accidentally been paid.
Additionally, the city paid performer Pinky Cole $33,500 to perform at the Expo, despite her backing out of the event at the last minute.
Overall, this independent audit confirms that this event was a complete and total failure. Not only were taxpayer funds wasted on a woke attempt to spotlight black businesses, but these businesses were actually harmed as a result.
Of course, it is doubtful that the city will learn its lesson. Fraud, waste, and abuse are common tenants of Minnesota’s government. It is unlikely that anything will change anytime soon.