We at Greater Mankato Growth (GMG) can sometimes look pretty mysterious. What does GMG do? It doesn’t hold property, make anything or have a profit stream. Just what is it anyway?
You might say GMG is a reflection of the region. Collaborative, positive, growing and leading.
What really guides our day-to-day work are our values which our founding board helped forge to lead our decision making now and in the future. This should help draw a picture of GMG’s motivations.
- Catalysts – we will initiate action when we see a need in the region. GMG will not own it but will see if it can start some action towards filling that need.
- Stewards – of the area’s reputation as well as our own resources bequeathed to us by its members
- Collaborative and inclusive – decisions will not be made in a vacuum but rather together with partners
- Approachable – this goes hand-in-hand with collaboration. We work for the greater good of this region and the growth of its community members and businesses. GMG is only interested in making others grow.
- Innovative – as the region changes so must the direction and initiatives of GMG. We are forward-focused on applying better solutions and effective processes to meet existing market and member needs.
- Ethical – probably the most important part of our mission. Businesses, civic leaders, community members must trust our work. Confidences are maintained and respected.
This last part regarding confidences helps explain the “mysterious” work of GMG – business development, retention and expansion. Besides seeking out potential growth opportunities, the business development team will often get inquiries from businesses on such things as available properties, state or local incentives, prevailing wages and the like. They are usually in the first phase of their decision making and because they need a certain calm during that time they request anonymity.
Invariably Greater Mankato area gets lumped in with others and our job is to sell the area as best we can. Our tools include robust economic modeling software, a strong marketing department using multimedia platforms, lists of available private equity and capital providers, our access to state offices, a vital website with a cornucopia of data and factors such as the livability of our region.
We are in fierce competition with those areas who may not have such a diverse and healthy economy as ours. We are reaching out beyond our borders to extol the virtues of working and living in the area. We have expanded our focus to site selectors, investors and agents in the metropolitan area and soon will be knocking on doors of commercial headquarters.
Trust and confidence in GMG is essential for site selectors and businesses to confide in us. And we are extremely lucky to have such a great region to sell and promote.
While some of the work is “invisible”, the areas where GMG is visible – in its initiatives – gives a pretty good indication of our job to promote and support the economic growth and vitality of our region.
The Greater Mankato Young Professionals initiative was created to help retain our talented youth. The Greater Mankato Leadership Institute prepares the future leaders of our region. The InterCity Leadership Visit brings civic leaders to other cities so we can learn how to improve our own area. (A side benefit is it helps forge bonds that otherwise may not have happened.) Public Affairs helps bring awareness of our area to statewide decision makers while we compete with other metros in Minnesota.
The less mysterious elements of GMG are with our affiliates – Visit Mankato and City Center Partnership both of which are an integral part of our mission.
Visit Mankato, an affiliate of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc., works to make the area a destination point for visitors. Once they experience the area we hope they appreciate the livability, energy and opportunity the region has to offer. While its focus is primarily in Mankato, it can and will promote the region when the opportunity presents itself such as its involvement in the Governor’s Pheasant Hunt held in two counties and the international Clay Shooting Championship held in Le Sueur.
City Center Partnership (also an affiliate of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc.) is focused on maintaining the economic health of the Mankato/North Mankato city core which is vital to any metropolitan area. It now is helping City of Mankato leadership develop a master plan for the Old Town area.
And the newest initiative, Project ABE, is our effort to bring global attention to the dynamics of our agricultural sector, one of the richest regions in the nation and helps us keep a diversified economy. But agribusiness is much more than planting seeds and we will be bringing attention to the strength and opportunities that exist in this arena shortly.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
One of the great strengths of GMG is our ability to “connect the dots” – putting people in need in touch with those who have something worthwhile to provide. A critical part of that job is through networking. We are the neurons in this extensive [nervous] system referred to as the Greater Mankato area; making connections everywhere we go. This happens at our Business Before Hours and Business After Hours events where people meet, discuss their work and exchange cards. You do this often enough and it creates a “top of mind” awareness when the actual need arises. Many deals had their seminal moment at one of these busy events.
Our Business to Business marketing efforts ensure messages are laser focused on clientele who are relevant. Greater Mankato Growth offers a host of different options its members can utilize to market and promote their business and products from digital advertising, coupon posting and mailing list purchases to sponsorships and event promotion. There are many diverse options GMG offers to help all types of businesses and organizations be successful.
Because GMG does not produce goods or hold land we rely on our membership base to fund the work we do. We are close to 1,000 members all of whom believe in the work we do, give guidance on the overall effort and help design effective strategies. The board of directors and executive board are unpaid volunteers comprised of a cross section of private and public individuals helping keep the organization relevant and strong. It is with them where we find strength and support needed to forge ahead.
More importantly, the residents of Greater Mankato are our best ambassadors. They spread the word of all the exciting things happening in our region. Visitors continually talk about how welcomed they feel here. And newcomers are taken aback by how easily they are included.
While we have a lot of excellent institutions to tout, it makes the job of GMG that much easier when the region is made up of generous, friendly, inclusive people such as we have. And for that we are grateful.