by Brandt Williams
Minnesota Public Radio

August 18, 2009

Minneapolis — Federal officials this Tuesday cut the ribbon to formally open the new Minneapolis Passport Agency in downtown Minneapolis.

The office actually opened for business in May.

Since then, officials say around 17,000 passport applications have been processed at the office. Brenda Sprague is the deputy assistant secretary of state for passport services. She said the new agency is particularly helpful to people who need a last minute passport renewal.

"The counter has been very busy and as a matter of fact, during our busiest season - we opened here in May -- we had people come from all across the country, because they could get an appointment here in Minneapolis, and they couldn't get an appointment where they lived," Sprague said. "So people came in and they got to see Minneapolis and they got their passport."

Sprague saidsome people realize at the last minute that their travel plans include areas that now require passports to enter, such as Canada and parts of the Caribbean.