The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 8, 2013

Our View: Port Authority asking the right questions

The Free Press

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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.

That’s quite an accomplishment. Not only is it a proud moment for the agency and all its supporters, but it’s especially good news for local nonprofits that depend on the donations to survive.

This year the United Way is increasing its funding to six agencies : Open Door Health Center, the BackPack Food program, VINE volunteer caregiving, YWCA Walking in Two Worlds, Gillette Children’s mobile clinic and Children’s Weekend Food Program in St. Peter.

Superdome outage added harmless drama

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To the 34-minute power outage at the 2013 Super Bowl, which provided a welcome diversion from what was a rather boring contest to that point. Some believe that the outage sapped the Baltimore Ravens’ momentum, but if it did and aided the 49ers in their comeback we should thank it for, at least, providing an entertaining conclusion.

The TV ads certainly weren’t entertaining, being on balance the most forgettable in years.

Perhaps most entertaining were the press reports about the outage itself. For two days, the event was covered in the media as if a nationwide scandal and major cover-up were taking place. But relax. It’s just a power outage. No one was killed. No one was even hurt.  

Editorial Board


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Story on Lifeworks client was outstanding

I direct business and employment Development for Lifeworks in North Mankato. We serve people with disabilities and have an extensive employment program.

I just wanted to say what an outstanding job Amanda Dyslin did on the story in the Jan. 21 issue about a Lifeworks client who won the Personal Achievement Award. 

This was a big deal for Eugen and Lifeworks Mankato, since he is the first client to win this award in Mankato. The story was portrayed in such a positive light, and she got it right.  Both the photo and storyline were right on. I have had nothing but positive feedback about the story.  That’s why I read The Free Press. Thank you.

Ted Ornas, Business and Employment Development, Lifeworks, North Mankato