MANKATO — Mankato's economy grew faster than any other metropolitan area in Minnesota — a growth rate that was more rapid than all but 11 percent of metro areas nationwide in 2012, according to new statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The gross domestic product for 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, narrowly edging the 4.0 percent GDP growth in St. Cloud (50th nationally) and the 3.9 percent in the Twin Cities (55th).
Rochester's GDP increased 3.6 percent (67th fastest nationwide).
"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.
Staff at GMG, which serves as the chamber of commerce and economic development organization locally, will be digging into the details of the numbers, Zierdt said on Wednesday. The trade category, which includes both retail and wholesale trade, was the biggest driver in Mankato's growth among the 13 categories that make up the GDP, followed by durable goods manufacturing.
Only Duluth struggled in 2012 among Minnesota's largest communities. The port city's GDP fell 2.8 percent in 2012, ranking it 368th among the 381 American metropolitan areas. Overall, 76 metro areas saw their economies shrink with 305 growing, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Along with the quartet of fast-growing Minnesota communities, two metro areas dominated by the North Dakota cities of Fargo and Grand Forks but including cross-border Minnesota towns also grew rapidly. The economy of the Fargo-Moorhead metro area grew 5.5 percent (19th nationally) and Grand Forks' grew 3.9 percent.
Nationwide, metro areas saw GDP growth of 2.5 percent last year, up from 1.7 percent in 2011.
Mankato's GDP also jumped by 4.1 percent in 2010, followed by a 2.9 percent increase in 2011.