The Free Press, Mankato, MN

News Ticker

Editorials

December 31, 2013

Our View: Mankato region shows progress in 2013

Why it matters: The Mankato region has shown economic progress but also some warning signs

A look back at 2013 to examine the Mankato area’s progress as a regional community shows more positives than negatives and some encouraging signs that the area may indeed be breaking out to the next level of growth.

That growth will likely be driven by an increasing regional population base, a public and private service sector that will serve that base and continual gains by the regional retail sector.

For the first time in a long time, industrial development has also shown significant gains and that may further increase the skilled labor force, which in turn helps bolster average wages.

The recent need and voter approval of $70 million in Mankato school expansions, including a new east side middle school, is indicative of the population growth. The Mankato school age population has grown about 10 percent over the last 10 years with projections showing another 10 percent growth in the next five years.

The growth not only drives the need for new and upgraded educational facilities, but also suggests a growth in a key demographic – families and households – that drives economic activity. Hints of this have been showing up in the last two or three years with the growth in strip mall developments housing service businesses from pizza shops to entertainment and clothing retailers.

The service industry, including new eating and drinking establishments, has been on the rise, with announcements of new restaurants almost monthly. The entertainment and eating venues spur other developments including city center office/residential combination structures. The office tower/restaurant/housing development of the Tailwind group for South Front Street and Riverfront Drive is the first of its size in decades.

Industrial growth will further diversify the region’s economic base. The Wal-Mart distribution center will begin construction this spring and be hiring an estimated 300 to 500 workers by 2015. Other industrial developments such as Imperial Plastics and possible expansion of MTU Onsite Energy will support the new growth. The medical facilities are also expanding their operations and Mankato Clinic is in the midst of an $8.9 million expansion of its Wickersham campus.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • Spear smile.jpg Spear column: Hoffner case tested first and right rules

    The biggest news stories carry the biggest risk

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SCC leads the way on work ed The importance of higher education has never been more pronounced than with the changes occurring in our economy, especially in manufacturing. Bloomberg News noted that manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of our exports and for every one high-tech

    April 20, 2014

  • Our View: Y helps kids with skatepark Thumbs up to the YMCA and supporters working quickly to open an interim roller sport park. When fire destroyed Chesley Roller Sports Park in February, the Y made the commitment to rebuild it this summer and fall. But the Y also moved to give skateboa

    April 19, 2014

  • Our View: Make course evaluations public There's been a considerable and legitimate debate over the years about whether students at a public university should have access to teacher and course evaluations. Whenever there is a legitimate debate, it's hard to be in favor of less information a

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View: Drawing the line after Ukraine Why it matters: Tensions are ramping up once more as Russia tries to dictate to Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014

  • Our View: Costs key in health care access While more uninsured got coverage, costs must be controlled to sustain programs

    April 16, 2014

  • Our View: Saving lives trumps booking drug users Changes to the drug laws would save lives of those who overdose

    April 15, 2014

  • Pay attention! Distraction a problem A few years ago safety experts focused heavily on the dangers of people talking on cellphones while driving. Some states passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held phones in cars as a result. Today much attention is on motorists typing on tiny hand

    April 14, 2014

  • DEBATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA When Minnesota lawmakers return from their spring break, one of the issues they may face is medical marijuana. This has been kicked around too many times. We feel it deserves to be pushed from committee and debated on the floor. The issue has been tr

    April 13, 2014

  • Our View: Cities saved on garbage collection Mankato and North Mankato saved their taxpayers money by bidding on garbage service

    April 12, 2014