The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 21, 2013

Greater Mankato Growth spurns N. Mankato's offer

Joining cooperative effort has been among city's goals

NORTH MANKATO — On Thursday, Greater Mankato Growth told North Mankato that it was withdrawing its invitation for the city to join its regional economic development group.

The deal that city staff had been negotiating to join the group, which formed in 2009, seemed dead, at least for now. North Mankato had withdrawn in 2008 from an earlier version of the economic development group, and re-joining a cooperative effort was among the city’s goals.

Despite this setback, the City Council voted 4-1 Monday to allow its city administrator to negotiate a deal with Greater Mankato Growth based on five conditions and an entry fee of about $30,000.

Those conditions and that spending level are both unacceptable, GMG President and CEO Jonathan Zierdt said Monday. It appears, in other words, that North Mankato will not join the economic development group unless one of the sides “blinks first,” as Councilman Kim Spears put it.

There are both philosophical and financial differences between the city and Greater Mankato Growth, but the dollars and cents are more straightforward.

When North Mankato left Greater Mankato Growth in 2008, it was paying about $34,000 a year, Harrenstein said. To simply join the newer group, called the Regional Economic Development Alliance, the city could have paid a similar amount.

But one of those five conditions is that North Mankato get a seat on Greater Mankato Growth’s board of directors.

The economic development group is comprised of seven cities and counties. The city of Mankato is the only one with a permanent board seat, and the other six members share two seats.

But, in recognition of the fact that it is likely to get the most benefits, Mankato pays twice as much, per-capita, as the other members.

So if North Mankato wants to join at Mankato’s level (with a board seat), it would have to pay at Mankato’s prices, Zierdt said, or else the deal would be unfair to the other members.

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