Citing tough economic times, a local civic leadership group has canceled its 100-delegate trip to Burlington, Vt.

The Intercity Leadership Visit was to have brought together a cross-section of Mankato/North Mankato leaders to glean community betterment ideas from a town of similar size.

The April 25-28 venture would have been the third such trip for the group, but Greater Mankato Growth Vice President Barb Embacher said the economic climate speaks against the expenditures involved.

“The timing isn’t very good right now, and it was better to make a decision now rather than after people had committed funds and made airline reservations,” she said.

The trip would have cost $2,400 per person for private business heads and $1,500 per person for local government representatives and delegates from nonprofit groups.

The higher fees for the businesspeople help defray costs for the other groups.

Instead, the group will gather this spring in or near Mankato for retreat-like sessions, as it did last year when no intercity visit was scheduled.

Embacher said group members thought that local, more urgent issues take precedence over the longer-terms goals spawned by intercity visits.

Embacher didn’t specify what those local issues might be. She said a polling of group members will identify a slate of issues prior to the spring gathering.

Dotson Co. President Dennis Dotson said the cancellation was prudent in a time of business and industry downturns.

“Most companies want to operate in an open environment, and if you’re cutting back on everything, you need to be consistent,” Dotson said.

“We will be going to Burlington sometime, just not this spring or next fall. But it probably will be on our 2010 agenda.”

At a North Mankato City Council meeting in November, members questioned whether that municipality should spend tax dollars on the trip in light of the economic environment.

The Burlington trip was expected to generate ideas applicable to Mankato on themes including energy independence, downtown vitality, skilled-labor development and retention of workers.

Previous intercity visits were to Bellingham, Wash., and Fort Collins, Colo.

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