Greater Mankato Growth Blog

The following is a guest blog post authored by Brad Kramer, President and Consultant at Provenio Consulting. Brad shares thought provoking tips and reminders on how to leverage social responsibility as a means to attract customers and talent. Read More

With the loss of many big box stores, the retail sector continues to alter its impact on the Mankato region. Retail trade is slowing and now is exacerbated by the struggling farm economy. Since retail has been a major draw to our community – including medical and entertainment – we need to determine a Plan B to continue growing our economy.

One answer that is gaining steam among Economic Development Organizations is “growing our own” – that is, paying close attention to startups and emerging entrepreneurs.

Tim Krohn of the Free Press wrote about a program offered by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation that is gaining in popularity and helping bolster our emerging economies. These kinds of ventures could help our smaller rural communities who are looking to stem the tide of aging populations and shrinking businesses.

Take a read and let me know how you feel about this as an answer for our future.

April 2019 Employment Figures

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development released the April 2019 employment figures on Thursday. The Mankato – North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) saw a gain of 501 jobs or 0.9% year-over-year in the month of April.

Private sector hourly earning have significantly increased over the last two years. Since April of 2017, wages have increased 12.3%; to $26.87 per hour. Average hours worked (27.8 a week) has decreased as more employers try to offer flexible schedules to fill vacant positions.

Manufacturing employment jumped up 3.3% in April. This is the second highest (2017) rate of growth since 2001.



Greater Mankato Growth recently completed an update to last year’s office/commercial vacancy analysis. The 2018 vacancy analysis was conducted during April, as was this year’s 2019 update.

The 2018 vacancy analysis served as the baseline for the update.  The County’s property information system was utilized to calculate the total square footage of the buildings on parcel pertinent to this analysis. This resource provided the “denominator” for the vacancy rate calculation.

To compile the vacant square footage, Greater Mankato Growth utilized multiple methods, including:

  • Online research of national commercial real estate sites
  • Online research of local commercial real estate sites
  • Windshield surveys of commercial property
  • Cross referencing with Blue Earth County Assessor
  • Outreach to area businesses
  • Consultant services of Data Noir, LLC
  • Review by City Staff

As part of this analysis, office space and commercial space that could easily be converted or has been office space in the past were inventoried. It is important to note that considerations were made for:

  • Buildings that are about to be filled;
  • Buildings listed for sale that are not vacant (an owner looking to sell to another owner);
  • Buildings that will be demolished, rather than occupied by a future tenant;
  • Buildings that are not currently vacant but may become vacant in the future;
  • Buildings that are leased but looking for a sub-leaser.

There were 49 office/commercial listings (84 in 2018) identified through this analysis totaling 179,036 square feet (266,730 square feet in 2018). This results in a vacancy rate of 6.13% (9.2% in 2018)

To provide context, of the vacancy rate, below are items of note compiled from the most recent figures calculated by CBRE on the 3rd Quarter of 2018, (April 11th 2019.)

  • National vacancy rate for office space is 11.8%.
  • The national office vacancy rate for suburban markets is 13.7%.
  • The national vacancy rate for downtown markets is 10.2%

The Workforce Series (10): Mark Davis: An Entrepreneur’s Lessons Learned

2018_workforceblogseriesAs part of the Talent Initiative, Greater Mankato Growth is publishing a guest blog series highlighting the programs, tools and resources that are available in our marketplace. This series can serve as a catalog or library for businesses to address workforce issues. 

Mark Davis, chairman of Davis Family Holdings, will address entrepreneurs and business professionals on May 21. The following guest blog courtesy of a SCORE volunteer outlines the presentation with some background on Davis.

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Any effort towards cost reduction can have a significant impact on a company or organizations bottom line. What company does not want to save energy costs? The following guest blog courtesy by Kohort Energy provides some energy-saving tips for local restaurants.

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With the talent shortage that the Greater Mankato area is experiencing, more and more employers are beginning to look within “hidden talent” pools to fill their open positions. Hidden talent pools commonly consist of underserved, disadvantaged, or otherwise overlooked populations – many of which are highly capable, skilled, and loyal to the employers who are able to recruit them.

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Greater Mankato Growth’s Talent Resources Liaison seeks out and identifies resources that support the attraction, recruitment, and retention of skilled workers in hard to fill positions. Manufacturing, agriculture, health care and technology are critical industries to the Greater Mankato area, all of which are struggling to recruit and retain skilled workers. The following guest blog courtesy by Dr. Paul Dettman of South Central College highlights the PIPELINE Program.

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smahra-logoWith the Greater Mankato Growth Talent Initiative and local efforts regarding talent attraction and retention (like, we feel it is critical to share important and helpful information to further mobilize the community around the workforce shortage. Read more for a guest blog post submitted by the Board President of the Southern Minnesota Area Human Resources Association (SMAHRA), J.D. Qualley.

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Supporting the 2019 Big Ideas Challenge

Greater Mankato Growth is proud to announce our support of the 2019 Big Ideas Challenge at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  First, Second and Third place challenge winners will receive a 2019 Engaged Greater Mankato Growth Membership.

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On Being a Successful Business in an Everchanging World

bison.jpgThe following is a guest blog post authored by Scot Zellmer. Scot is one of the organizers that worked on behalf of adoption and recognition by the City of Mankato of Indigenous Peoples Day. His post speaks to the importance of ensuring our community adopts a “wide range of inclusive and affirming business practices” in order to attract and retain the talent we’ll need to fuel our economy. Read More


The following guest blog post was provided by Bob Rothenbuehler.

Bob brings over 25 years of purchasing, sales and operational experience to the table.  In addition, he has 20 years of involvement with various financial services functions. Bob identifies a variety of potential savings opportunities for prospects as well as long-term clients, and then assists them with the implementation for improved profitability and cash flow.

If you had a tax refund coming, would you tell the IRS to keep it for 39 years? Effectively, for many commercial building owners, that’s exactly what they’re doing. In fact, Growth Management Group, LLC savings research has shown that 9 out of 10 of their customers are missing opportunities and overpaying on their income tax.

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