By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Dr. Greg Kutcher, chairman of the Greater Mankato Growth board, said a recent neighborhood gathering to meet new neighbors showed him firsthand why the community is on the right track.
One of the new households was a family in which the parents – young professionals — worked in Jordan.
“They specifically chose Mankato to live. They said they visited Mankato to shop and to go to sporting events and they liked the schools and events. They realized they traveled to Mankato more than to the Twin Cities.”
Kutcher, speaking at GMG’s annual meeting at Minnesota State University on Thursday, ticked off several success stories of the region: 141 new building and renovation projects in 2012; payroll up 6.2 percent last year; and a GDP that’s grown faster in the past 10 years than in any other metropolitan statistical area in the state.
“Our marketplace has been very strong the past year — and for many years.”
GMG President and CEO Jonathan Zierdt said this year will see a continued focus on three core areas the group started honing in on last year: leveraging the supply chain, capitalizing on the talent pool and retaining talented workers, and raising the awareness about and visibility of the Mankato region.
Convention and Visitors Bureau President Anna Thill unveiled a new logo, slogan and organizational name. (See related story on page A1).
Thill also said the CVB — now called Visit Mankato — will move its offices to the Mankato Place mall and will focus efforts this year on starting a formal sports commission.
The goal of the commission is to market and coordinate the area for sports tournaments and events — from softball to pool tournaments and the Mankato Marathon.
Eric Harriman, coordinator of the City Center Partnership, said the group will continue working “to maintain vibrancy over the 180 blocks of the city center.”
He said the group also hopes to this year begin building a grass-roots movement to get a Minnesota Valley Passenger Rail service that would bring trains from the metro area to Mankato.