The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 28, 2013

Mankato area hits another economic high

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to continued leadership of Mankato’s diversified economy. The Gross Domestic Product of the Mankato-North Mankato metro area grew 4.1 percent last year, the 43rd fastest growth rate among 381 metro areas nationwide.

The local economic growth topped all others in the state. “It’s really exciting to see the economic force and vitality that we’re contributing to the state,” said Jonathan Zierdt, president and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth. “It’s wonderful news that we continue to see these demonstrations of the economic might of greater Mankato,” he said.

The area still has a long way to go to catch up to the big boys in overall size. Mankato-North Mankato’s economic activity reached $4.3 billion in 2012, the 318th largest economy in America. The New York City metro area, with an economy of nearly $1.4 trillion, is the nation’s largest and the equivalent of nearly 350 Mankatos.

Just another goal to shoot for.

Fall Elegance gala shines

Thumbs up to the organizers and participants of the 15th annual Fall Elegance gala, a stellar evening formal event for people in the region with disabilities.

Some 750 participants showed up this year and the event drew high praise, as it typically does. The event aims to recognize the contributions of people with disabilities to the Mankato community and gives them a chance to have fun and celebrate that.

Party goers came dressed in their best formal outfits with tiaras and corsages in tow. The event is organized by MRCI, ACCESS and LEEP groups that work with people with disabilities through employment and social programs.

Mankato has thousands of folks with disabilities and they make genuine contributions like working jobs, paying rent and bolstering the local economy. They also volunteer with various organizations.

The event is not only a great time for participants, but helps the community understand contributions of people with disabilities and a sense of what an asset they are to the area.

Cruz wastes taxpayer time, money

While there’s a certain market feeding the antics of Texas tea party-induced Sen. Ted Cruz, his recent filibuster-like attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act was nothing but a waste of taxpayer time and money.

Cruz knew what he was doing would have no impact on Democrats or Republicans, but he did it anyway. In fact, many of his Senate Republican colleagues excoriated his 21-hour diatribe, with particular aim at Cruz’s motivation at personal aggrandizement. Sen. John McCain called Cruz’s comparing ACA proponents to Nazi appeasers out of hand and objectionable.

Nobody is saying we can’t debate the ACA, but Cruz doesn’t really want people to know that. He has become practiced at the political mantra that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe you. Cruz will soon be a golden boy for the conflict industry that uses fighting words of politicians to highlight in news stories that grab ratings.

In fact, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., pointed out that Cruz’ use of 21-hours of Senate time likely prevented the Senate Republicans from working to get the bill back to the House on time and prevent a government shutdown. He also noted how Cruz voted for the bill he was filibustering when it came down to the final count.

Register to vote in your slippers

Thumbs up to the state implementing online voter registration. Minnesotans can now use their computers or other remote devices to register to vote or update their existing registration. It’s accessible at

People using the system must present verifiable identification data and they’ll have their applications checked in similar fashion as before. Successful applicants will be notified of their polling place.

Minnesota is the 15th state to allow online registration and it’s good to be on board.