The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 8, 2013

Our View: Port Authority asking the right questions

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To the North Mankato Port Authority for taking a step back and looking to develop guidelines on how it should operate as the city’s economic development authority.

The group of appointed members, including two City Council members, has fairly broad powers to provide low-interest loans, outright grants, buy and sell land and do other things to spur development in North Mankato.

At a recent meeting, members had a needed philosophical discussion about their role as they considered a request for a large, long-term subsidized loan for a proposed development. Several members noted the project was financially sound without public assistance and they questioned whether they should be offering long-term loans that undercut local bankers and credit unions.

The group has been criticized over the years for involving itself in projects that most EDAs do not participate in, such as supporting retail developments. And residents — and even members — have voiced concerns that there are no specific criteria used by the Port Authority to decide what types of projects to support.

Last week members appointed a three-person committee to formulate written recommendations to help guide the group in the future. It’s a smart move that will make the process easier and more understandable for Port Authority members, for businesses seeking help and for taxpayers.

Mankato United Way meets its goal

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To the generosity of donors to the local United Way agency. Thanks to those who pledged contributions, the Greater Mankato United Way will reach its 2013 goal of $2 million.

The funds will be distributed to 40 agencies and more than 60 programs.

Donations came from 8,000 individuals and 200 corporations, including 28 new corporate pledges and 70 corporations that increased their pledges from a year earlier.

The high rate of giving has put the local chapter in the top 2 percent in the nation for similar-size United Way agencies.

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