MANKATO — Greater Mankato Growth is moving downtown.
For more than a decade, staff of GMG, along with its GreenSeam agricultural program staff, have been in the Eastwood Park on the northeast edge of Mankato.
By this spring, GMG, GreenSeam along with GMG entities Visit Mankato and City Center Partnership will have a unified location in the first floor of the Graif Building on East Walnut Street. The site is across the street from the civic center complex.
"We always knew at some point it would make sense to have all our business units together," said Jonathan Zierdt, president and CEO of GMG.
"It also gives us the opportunity to be located in one of the highest traffic areas."
The move to the Graif Building is to happen by June 1, with GMG and GreenSeam setting up temporary offices on the third floor of the Intergovernmental Center in the interim.
While the plan to move downtown to a unified office had been in the works for some time, the move came more quickly than planned after another tenant in the Eastwood Park building — the Lyle C. Pearson VA Clinic — sought to expand its space in the building.
Zierdt said his staff has long wanted to be together and having all 21 employees in one spot will create efficiency. "They're running back and forth between offices all the time now."
He said the downtown location also will allow them to set up a kiosk in the foyer that people can come to when the office is closed to get information about the city and GMG.
The Lyle C. Pearson VA Clinic, which is part of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, already takes up a large part of the Eastwood Park building.
The Mankato office provides primary care, mental health care and some specialty care using tele-health care with Minneapolis providers.
The building GMG is now housed in was originally called Technology Plus, an effort by the city to provide a place for startup businesses to get a leg up in the world of emerging internet technology and a place where the public could have access to the internet and computers. The city received a $4.5 million grant from the Legislature in 1998 to purchase the property.
But the internet rapidly developed and became broadly available, and by 2005 city officials found the Tech Plus incubator concept lacking. The Tech Plus board entered into an agreement to combine resources with GMG to provide a broader-based Business Accelerator program in the building.