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The Definitive Business Journal for the Greater Minnesota River Valley

Kim Stanton, owner of Encore Consignment and Bridal Boutique. Photo by Jackson Forderer

Downtowns going strong Heart of the city beats strong

April 2018

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Anti-Gossip Policies By: Brittany King-Asamoa

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onitoring workplace behavior to maximize productivity is not always easy. Everyone has their own opinions and personalities. And, unfortunately, some personalities may clash causing unnecessary drama and rumors that infect the workplace. This leads many employers to establish anti-gossip policies addressing some of these issues. At the outset this sounds like a good idea, but employers should proceed with caution. The National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”) prohibits employers from stifling employees’ rights to discuss their wages, terms, and conditions of employment or otherwise engage in concerted activities. Overly broad policies prohibiting speech

constituting “gossip,” without a definition of the term, may run afoul of this protection. The National Labor Relations Board, which is tasked with enforcing the Act, has approved anti-gossip policies that “specifically prohibit” gossip, which is commonly defined and reasonably understood as chatty talk or rumors or reports of an intimate nature,” in contrast to policies prohibiting or frowning on “employee conversations generally, which would implicitly include protected concerted activity.” Lytton Rancheria of California d/ba Casino San Pablo and Unite Here Local 2850, 361 NLRB No. 148 (2014). However, the policy itself is not the only concern. The conduct influencing the development of the

policy could lead to a finding that the policy is unlawful. For example, the roll out of an anti-gossip policy immediately following a complaint about employees’ wage discussions igniting workplace issues or decreasing productivity may result in a finding that the policy is unlawful. See Securitas Security Servs. USA and Ryan Patrick Murphy, an individual, Cases 16-CA-176006, JD-78-17, 2017 WL 4334530 (N.L.R.B. Div. of Judges Sept. 28, 2017) (“I find that in this context, this [anti-gossip] rule was issued in response to employees’ protected activity, and that it would easily lead employees to understand it to restrict their [NLRA] Section 7 rights to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with each other.”).

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 1


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F E A T U R E S April 2018 • Volume 10, Issue 7

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The City Centers of Mankato and North Mankato continue to see redevelopment and new construction, with some major projects getting underway this spring.

16

If you live in the Mankato area and want to learn how to build something – anything – Makerspace Mankato is the place to do it. The non-profit collective opened in February.

18

The internet has changed the way people book vacations, but businesses like The Travel & Cruise Center say their business is still booming as they find new niches.

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Fitness for $10 in Mankato recently underwent a major renovation and expansion of their space on Madison Avenue and added a variety of new offerings and classes.

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 3


APRIL 2018 • VOLUME 10, ISSUE 7 PUBLISHER Steve Jameson EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE EDITOR Tim Krohn CONTRIBUTING Tim Krohn WRITERS Kent Thiesse Dan Greenwood Amanda Dyslin Harvey Mackay PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman Jackson Forderer COVER PHOTO Jackson Forderer PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Joan Streit Sales Jordan Greer-Friesz Josh Zimmerman Marianne Carlson Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey CIRCULATION Justin Niles DIRECTOR For editorial inquiries, call Tim Krohn at 507-344-6383. For advertising, call 344-6364, or e-mail advertising@mankatofreepress.com. MN Valley Business is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South 2nd Street Mankato MN 56001.

■ Local Business memos/ Company news.....................................5 ■ Business Commentary.........................8 ■ Business and Industry trends..........24 ■ Retail trends.....................................25 ■ Agriculture Outlook..........................26 ■ Agribusiness trends..........................27 ■ Construction, real estate trends.....28 ■ Gas trends........................................29 ■ Stocks...............................................29 ■ Minnesota Business updates............30 ■ Job trends.........................................30 ■ Schmidt Foundation.........................32 ■ Greater Mankato Growth..................34 ■ Greater Mankato Growth Member Activities ............................36

From the editor

By Joe Spear

Mankato is “rollin’ on the river” but challenges remain on post office

N

ew developments in Mankato’s downtown including Belgrade Avenue in North Mankato continue to build on the City Center concept of creating business and now living spaces in an urban setting that is getting more attractive each year. The corner of Main and Second streets in Mankato appears to be the lynchpin of downtown development this year with a new $19 million, seven-story office tour with a restaurant and retail development on the southeast corner. The major tenant, Eide Bailly, is scheduled to relocate when the project is completed in about a year. The old orthodontist building on the northwest corner will be renovated to add levels and house a new counseling and mental health practice. On the southwest corner, John Kietzer, of Century 21 Landmark Realty, will be building an interesting upscale apartment project on the upper floor of the Landmark building. Says Kietzer: “There’s 9,000 square feet on the third floor that’s mostly vacant and I’m going to convert them to apartments. There are a lot of apartment buildings going up, but there still aren’t a lot downtown. We’re going to do something upscale. I think people will like it.” These new developments are just across the Veterans Memorial Bridge from Mankato’s Old Town, which continues to develop into a hipster-attracting neighborhood with small shops, entrepreneurs and restored historic buildings. Recent grant money may fund upgrading the back entryways and alleys of the Old Town district.

4 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

The pedestrian traffic-building of the entire downtown area will go a long way to getting us to a place where people want to be and walk to restaurants and shops, says Megan Flanagan, director of the City Center Partnership. The downtown cores are getting the attention of others. “If you look at the downtowns, there’s a huge positive change in the last few years. We hear that from people who used to live here and come back after a few years. They really see the difference,” Flanagan says. But challenges remain. The Mankato Post Office building continues to be the architectural jewel of downtown with its Kasota stone exterior and tin-like ceilings and storied old federal courtroom on the second floor. It is the most talked about and promising development prospect that is moving at a snail’s pace or no pace at all. Developers have made pitches to renovation including a plan to have Blue Earth County offices move there. But that plan died after the county decided to expand and build new on its existing location on Fifth Street. It’s hard to tell what the post office has in mind. When we call them they either say they don’t know, or they don’t call us back. There was even a civic committee formed at one time and they have not really been heard from. Still, people envision the post office as retail shops or restaurants on the first floor with apartments on the second floor. An expensive proposition to be sure, but at some point civic leaders need to get together and make something happen with that building.


At one point, even city government officials talked about moving City Hall to the post office building if that’s what it would take to save the historic building. In fact, that’s not a bad idea given the Intergovernmental Center might make a good, high-value, private development being right next to the Verizon Center. All ideas should be on the table. The City Center didn’t get to where it’s at by someone saying two nice glass office towers could never be built on abandonedlooking property downtown. We didn’t get the streetscaping and pedestrian friendly South Front Street by saying it would be tough to snowplow such a place. Mankato and North Mankato have what is called creative momentum and we need to energize that once again for the post office project. It could greatly enhance downtown and spur bringing the City Center to the next level. Joe Spear is executive editor of Minnesota Valley Business. Contact him at jspear@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6382. Follow on Twitter @jfspear.

Local Business People/ Company News

SouthPoint’s Nesvold honored

Dick Nesvold, SouthPoint Financial Credit Union president and CEO, was inducted in the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders in Washington, D.C. The Hall of Leaders recognizes those credit union board members, CEO’s or volunteers that inspire others in the credit union movement. In 2012, the World Council of Credit Unions inducted Nesvold into its International Executive Volunteer Corps for his work on the Central de Cooperativas del Area Nacional (Paraguay) initiative. He is a former board chair of the Minnesota Credit Union Network and has served in other posts. ■■■

Bolton & Menk opens in Algona

Bolton & Menk Inc. has opened an Algona, Iowa office. The office gives the firm better access to serve the needs of our northwest Iowa clients in municipal engineering, agricultural drainage, and land surveying. Bolton & Menk has 18 offices located in Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota, with more than 450 employees. ■■■

Lime Valley wins awards

Lime Valley Advertising of Mankato received eight Service Industry Advertising Awards for communication excellence. This is the fourteenth year that the SIAA has recognized Lime Valley’s accomplishments in advertising. Over those fourteen years Lime Valley has garnered 71 SIAA awards, more than any other agency in Minnesota. The SIAA is a national competition that honors service industr y providers for their contribution to marketing and advertising. This year judges reviewed over 1,600 entries from over 530 agencies. ■■■

Thoen honored at Ameriprise

Gregory Thoen, an advisor with Wealth Management Solutions a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services in Mankato, was named to the 2018 Chairman’s Advisory Council for the third time. He joins other top-ranked advisors to discuss current issues and business opportunities with Ameriprise Financial Chairman and CEO Jim Cracchiolo and other Ameriprise Financial leaders. The Chairman’s Advisory Council was established in 1984 and advisors qualify each year based on superior business results.

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 5


Century 21 Landmark merges

Century 21 Landmark Realtors has completed a merger with the Century 21 Lake Region Office at Hwy 60 in Elysian. The Elysian office has been operating for 30 years and will continue to operate at its current location. ■■■

Schmidt named sales manger

Centur y 21 L a n d m a r k Realtors owner Jon Kietzer announced Jenny Schmidt as the real estate company’s new residential sales manager. Jenny Schmidt Schmidt’s mother, Deb Atwood, began her career in 1989 when Jenny was 7. Schmidt joined her mom after high school to help create the Deb Atwood Home Team. After Schmidt’s step-dad died of kidney cancer, she and her mom opened their own independent real estate company. However, after Deb had a heart attack they decided to close the business. Now Schmidt is back with Century 21. ■■■

UPS honors drivers

Bolton & Menk open studio

Bolton & Menk, Inc. has opened an off-site studio location in Old Town Mankato. Bolton & Menk Studios houses the graphics work group, specializing in 3D animation, video editing, music and audio recording, graphic design, green screen production and aerial photography. The studio, located at 424 North Riverfront Drive, features a 15’ x 10’ green screen, video editing/ production suite and audio recording booth, along with graphic design and 3D animation production areas. ■■■

Moffitt joins True

Alyssa Moffitt has joined True Real Estate as a real estate agent in the Mankato location. Moffitt has lived in Mankato since 1995. She has spent most of her career in accounting until joining True Real Estate in 2016 as the office manager. Moffitt has since, gone on to become a Realtor. ■■■

Century 21 Atwood honored

Centur y 21 Atwood Realty received several awards from the Centur y 21 Real Estate Corporation. They earned the Gold Medallion Award for the Mankato office and the Quality Service Office Award for the St. Peter Office. The Gold Medallion is given based on an office’s level of production and the Quality Service Award is based on exceeding the ser vice expectations of clients. Bonnie Kruger earned the Cenurion Producer Award for her 2017 sales success. Dan Baker earned the System’s Masters Ruby Award following his continuous sales success. Michelle Harmon, Trent VanOrt, Ellen Gruhot and Jeff Kaul have been honored with the MultiMillion Dollar Producer Award. Ellen Gruhot earned the Quality Service Pinnacle Producer Award.

Two area men are among 28 elite drivers in Minnesota being honored by UPS for being accident free for 25 or more years. David Trembley, of North Mankato and Trent Nelson of St. James are being given the Circle of Honor recognition by the company. Minnesota has a total of 156 Circle of Honor drivers with a combined 3,479 years of accidentfree driving. Raymond Welk of Nowthen is the state’s seniormost safe driver, with 47 years of accident-free driving under his belt. There are 1,782 total fulltime UPS drivers in Minnesota. UPS has 127,000 small package drivers on the road, logging more than 3 billion miles a year and delivering nearly 5 billion packages annually. 6 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

Carrie Zeldenrust, Cindy Florine, Dan Baker, Jay Sallstrom, Lorri Rieff, Michelle Harmon and Erik Jensen earned the Quality Service Producer Award. ■■■

Bolton & Menk ranked 3rd largest

Bolton & Menk Inc. ranks third on Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Largest Metro Engineering Firms top 25 list. There are 101 metro registered engineers and a total of 343 Bolton & Menk employees in the Twin Cities metro area. The firm has a total of 492 employees in 17 office locations in Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota. ■■■

MRCI honored

MRCI Wo r k s o u r c e , headquartered in Mankato, was honored by Minnesota Business Magazine with the Diverse Business Development, Community Impact Award. Brian Benshoof is CEO of MRCI, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. The magazine cited “Coaching Capacity,” MRCI’s latest effort to educate employers on the value of employing individuals with disabilities. “Coaching Capacity” is a series of interactive presentations for employers that offers tools and resources to help them better integrate this population into their workforce. ■■■

Cornish new Pathstone director

Shelly Cornish has been named executive director at E c u m e n Pathstone Living in Mankato. J e n n i f e r P f e f f e r previously led the Pathstone Shelly Cornish campus and is now an Ecumen senior regional director of operations. Cornish has been at Pathstone for 10 years and with Ecumen for


more than 13 years. She was previously housing director at Ecumen in Hutchinson and Le Center before coming to Pathstone in 2008. In 2016, she was promoted to campus director. Cornish is a graduate of Minnesota State UniversityMankato with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and a Master of Science in Gerontology and is a licensed nursing home administrator. ■■■

Schwickert gets national post

Kent Schwickert, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Tecta America, has been elected 2018-19 chairman of the board for the National Roofing Contractors Association. Schwickert has served as a member of many NRCA committees. Tecta America is also a member of the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress. Schwickert will begin his oneyear term on June 1.

Marsolek joins Century 21

D e r e k Marsolek has joined Centur y 21 Landmark Realty as a sales associate. He specializes in residential property sales in the Mankato area. Derek Marsolek Marsolek attends Minnesota State University and majors in business management.

Csizmadia joins True

S t e v e Csizmadia has joined True Real Estate at its M a n k a t o location. Csizmadia is a graduate of the City College of New York with an engineering Steve Csizmadia degree and has 30 years of engineering, facilities and proper ty management experience.

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Priebe honored

Principal made a $1,000 contribution to the Waseca Lakes Association, in recognition of John Priebe achieving President’s Circle for 2016. The President’s Circle is an exclusive level of distinction given by the company.

Read us online!

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Eide Bailly elects Ellingson

Ben Ellingson joined the Eide Bailly board of directors for a three-year term as a new member. As a CPA and the partner-incharge of the firm’s Mankato office, Ellingson focuses primarily on nonprofit and closely-held businesses, including the construction, manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries. In addition to traditional tax and audit services. ■■■

Nelson on national board

Julie Nelson, associate regional director at the Small Business Development Center, was elected to serve on the board of the National Association of Women Business Owners - Minnesota Chapter. NAWBO provides an avenue for women entrepreneurs to connect with their peers, and join for regular networking, educational programs, mentorship and support. It was founded in 1975.

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MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 7


Business Commentary

By Harvey Mackay

Micromanaging your staff ?

Just learn to let it go

J

oe paced back and forth in his sister’s kitchen one Sunday before dinner. His sister Carol recognized the worried look on his face and called him over to where she stood next to the sink. “Hey Joe, can you hold on to this for me?” She handed him a can of vegetable scraps. Joe took the can and walked outside where he threw the scraps in the compost bin before returning to the kitchen. “Why did you toss my scraps? I asked you to hold on to them.” “Why would you ask me to hold onto garbage?” Joe asked. “I thought you liked holding on to useless things,” she replied. “What do you mean?” “You’ve been wearing a path on my kitchen floor, preoccupied with whatever is on your mind. I doubt if you heard anything I said to you before now, yet you instinctively tossed the compost scraps without giving them a second thought.” He had to admit that Carol was right. “But is there a point to this?” he asked. Carol offered him a simple suggestion: “Why don’t you apply that same logic to whatever is bothering you? If it’s something you can change, change it. If it’s something you can’t change, let it go.” Holding on to things that are eating at you is not just unproductive; it’s a recipe for disaster. In other words, throw out those scraps before they start to smell. Carol’s advice is golden. Her words are especially appropriate for managers who have so little

confidence in their staffs that it affects their job performance. Are you a micromanager? A second-guesser? If you are, you need to stop. This is not a healthy way to manage people – for yourself or other employees. As a manager, you need to look at your need to control. Are you trying to get your employees to

Mackay’s Moral: Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles. do things the way you do them because you think your way is superior? This is a dangerous mindset for a manager because you are not looking ahead to the outcome but are getting caught up in controlling the process, according to Johanna Rothman on the Rothman Consulting website. Is that what you really

8 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

want to do? Is it productive? Many managers micromanage as a form of quality control. These managers often find themselves working unbelievably long hours in order to redo the work of others. If you’re always swamped with work and you just can’t seem to let others take a piece of the responsibility pie – then you’ve got a problem. Not trusting your staff is essentially the same as not trusting yourself to manage them effectively. Learning to trust your staff and allowing them to make mistakes is part of being a mature manager. Many managers believe that it is a virtue to make every decision along the way – to control every detail of, well, everything. But the truth is, a good manager helps make sure that her direct reports keep the flow of work going. A good manager is more interested in the growth of his direct reports and the eventual positive and freeing workplace that can be developed when they are operating as autonomously as possible. To improve your ability to manage, you will need to let go of your need to control quality at every stop. This does not mean you sacrifice quality. It simply means you are not the quality control traffic cop. You are a manager, and that means you assist people in being able to do their jobs. You don’t block their ability to do it by second guessing, redoing work and spending long hours in the office. You give them the tools to do their jobs correctly and with the best possible results.


Letting go is not always simple. But don’t let worrying about what you might lose when you let go change your resolve. Consider the lesson this little fellow learned. A little boy was playing one day with a very valuable vase. When he put his hand inside it and couldn’t pull it back out, he called for his mother. His mother tried gently to slide his hand free, but it remained stuck. She was ready to break the vase when she said, “Ok, let’s try one more time. Open your hand and hold your fingers straight out and then pull.” “Oh, no, mommy!” the boy cried. “If I do that I’ll drop my quarter!”

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Zoiey Grewe (bottom left), 5, looks at her sister Heather Grewe who was trying on wedding dresses at Encore Consignment and Bridal Boutique with the help of employee Carroll Meyers-Doblers (left) and Amy Grewe. “She’s beautiful,” Zoiey said repeatedly as Heather tried on dresses.

Growing from the center City Center continues its rebirth By Tim Krohn | Photos by Jackson Forderer

T

he downtowns of Mankato and North Mankato show every sign of marching forward with new development and renovation. Sure there are some fits and starts along the way, but construction plans and enthusiasm remain high. “We’re really trying to get this

area revitalized and get people noticing. It’s not quite there yet, but I think it’s coming,” said Kim Stanton, owner of Encore, 311 North Riverfront Drive, in Old Town. Megan Flanagan, director of the City Center Partnership, said people notice the changes in the

Cover Story

10 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business


cities’ cores. “If you look at the downtowns, there’s a huge positive change in the last few years. We hear that from people who used to live here and come back after a few years. They really see the difference.” In Old Town, businesses continue to be added, a food truck hub has been established, and Minnesota State University last year opened a Center of Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Hubbard building. At the intersection of Main and Second streets, three major construction projects are underway or soon will be. Developers Tony Frentz and Rob Else are starting on a $19 million, seven-stor y office, restaurant and retail development. Eide Bailly will relocate to the office tower when it opens next spring. Work is also underway on renovating and adding floors to the former orthodontist building next to the library. And on a third corner of the intersection, the Landmark building is slated to get a renovation that will include adding high-end apartments to the top floor. John Kietzer, who owns Century 21 Landmark Realty, bought the building a few years ago. “There’s 9,000 square feet on the third floor that’s mostly vacant and I’m going to convert them to apartments. There are a lot of apartment buildings going up, but there still aren’t a lot downtown,” Kietzer said. “We’re going to do something upscale. I think people will like it.” He is trying to get the building on the National Register of historic buildings. “It’s not an easy thing to do. We want to keep a lot of the original features on it.” The building started as the Eckman Building and was the original Dodge dealership in Mankato. “They actually had an elevator that ran cars up and down. The third floor was a paint room and they had their service center on the second floor,” Kietzer said. “It’s really a well-built building.”

“We’ve seen an incredible renaissance in the Old Town region with lots of new, locallyowned small businesses,” said Megan Flanagan, director of the City Center Partnership, “It’s a very collaborative and creative stretch of businesses.”

Poised for redevelopment

Flanagan said the ongoing construction and renovations are a sign of success. “We have a lot of new businesses opening in the downtown and a lot of people moving to the downtown because that’s where people want to be. They want to walk to restaurants and shops and have the amenities.” She said new shops in Old Town, such as the recently opened Ar tifacts potter y painting business, build on steady momentum there.

“These small businesses that pop up are exciting — we see that in Old Town especially. It really seems to attract entrepreneurs.” In North Mankato, Design & Wine opened last year as did Neutral Groundz. While Belgrade Avenue saw new businesses, it also took a hit recently when the gas station closed. “Belgrade is an interesting stretch. It has a unique feel, it’s more homey and more like a small-town downtown. The gas station is a big loss. It’s a prime location,” Flanagan said. “They have that active Business

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 11


Jon Kietzer, who has owned the Landmark Center in downtown Mankato since 2014, said that there are currently six commercial tenants and 11 apartments in the building, with plans to convert the third floor to apartments. Kietzer said that the building was originally a car dealership when it was built in 1919.

Office space market being upended By Tim Krohn

Photo by Jackson Forderer

O

ne of the biggest changes corporate entity to move in. But in the downtown in recent it’s 200,000 square feet. That’s a years has been the lot of space.” addition of high quality office John Kietzer, owner of Century space, something that’s shaking 21 Landmark Realty, said there is up the marketplace. a lot of office space available. “It “With larger corporations, their doesn’t seem to be getting employees want Class A office absorbed real quick. And there space and the market is are more new buildings going responding to that,” said Megan up, particularly the new one on Flanagan, director of the City Second and Main (streets) with Center Partnership. Eide Bailly vacating their Tim Lidstrom, of Lidstrom (existing) space and moving Commercial Realtors in Mankato, there,” Kietzer said. Eide Bailly said the new office buildings are is currently on Excel Drive in the leaving holes elsewhere. Eastwood Industrial Park. “Most of the expansion in office He said rents on office buildings is from existing users. You have are being driven down. “It’s very some new ones, like Profinium, competitive now. We have some but a lot of the growth is just for $6 or $7 a square foot where from existing businesses.” it used to be $12 a square foot.” He said many businesses like Kietzer said landlords are also being in the City Center because been pressed to enter into of the things available in the shorter leases to attract tenants. area. “And part of it is “You’re not always going to get advertising, too. If you move to a the five- and 10-year leases.” more visible spot and have good Lidstrom said landlords sitting signage, it helps.” with larger buildings have to get Lidstrom said it will take time to creative. “If you have a large, fill in vacant office space. single-tenant building and the And there’s more to come. tenant is vacating it, the landlord Verizon just announced it is may have to repurpose it with closing its massive call center on multiple tenants. You have to be the east edge of Mankato. very creative with the space and “Hopefully that can attract a new rents.” 12 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

on Belgrade Association and they’re very supportive.” Flanagan expects downtown Mankato redevelopment to continue to stretch farther out. She said the area of South Front Street, in the blocks near and past the Walgreens, is likely to see more redevelopment. And a few blocks along Second Street, near the Veterans Memorial Bridge, are being eyed for development, including plans by Mike Brennan to construct Bridge Plaza, a multi-story mixeduse building. The Sibley Parkway area, stretching down to the side of Cub Food, is also up for major revitalization. The city formerly had bus garages and other buildings in the area and is now taking proposals from developers for redevelopment that would include housing and mixed uses. “I’m excited to see the city working on that. That’s our last big area for a lot of redevelopment downtown. I think it will help create that downtown urban village idea.” One challenge she sees ahead is parking downtown. “I think people are starting to get a little concerned about parking. If we continue to move more employees downtown, we have to make sure there’s adequate parking. You don’t want a lot of parking lots, but ramps are very expensive.”

Redoing Riverfront

While construction of buildings and ramps are planned or underway, Stanton said a big issue in the area of her Encore shop is Riverfront Drive. “The traffic on Riverfront is dangerous. You can’t get across the street easily walking. It’s loud and dirty. That’s the biggest drawback down here.” Flanagan said she hears plenty from Old Town tenants about the busy street. “They really have concerns. It’s not very pedestrian friendly. “There is a lot of concern about quieting traffic, but there are also concerns about not backing up traffic because it is a minor arterial road.” Stanton and Flanagan said another area that’s being focused on in Old Town is trying to dress


GENUINE ENGINEER Dan Sarff, Mankato Principal Engineer, Mankato Civil Work Group Leader Dan helps solve problems for city administrators, city managers, public works directors, and utility superintendents. A gratifying part of his job has been getting to know his clients and developing relationships over the years, “Many of my clients I now consider friends.”

The first thing we build with every client is a relationship.

Kim Stanton has been the owner of Encore Consignment and Bridal Boutique for the past five years. Stanton has expanded the bridal part of the store since being the owner and said she gets a pretty even amount of business from both the consignment and bridal halves of the store. up the alley to make it more inviting for people who want to walk or park in order to come in the back entrances of businesses. The City Center Partnership recently got a grant aimed at improving the city center through art. It was one of three Minnesota Main Street Communities to receive funding. “Artists on Main Street is another way we’re looking at how we deal with challenges by using art,” Flanagan said. “My initial proposal was to do work in the alleyways in Old Town to attract more people. A lot of those businesses have really upgraded their back entrances but the alleys are lacking.” Stanton has dressed up the back of the Encore store with

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MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 13


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planters, metal are and greenery. “Riverfront Drive isn’t going to change soon, but if we can dress up the alley and the back side, it will encourage people to walk back there.” Encore is one of the older businesses in Old Town, opening 15 years ago. Stanton bought the business five years ago. “I love the flavor of all the businesses down here. They’re entrepreneurs. I like the convenience and the friendliness of the area,” Stanton said. “If you’re waited on by the owner or staff of a small business, I think it’s a better experience. Entrepreneurs are hungry and they want to go after the business. We want people to feel welcome.” Stanton said Encore focuses on selling name brand, quality, ontrend fashions on consignment. Stanton owns two connecting buildings and she’s developed one building into a bridal shop with new gowns and accessories. She is going to rebrand that part of the business as Riverfront Bridal. MV

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Heather Grewe tries on wedding dresses at Encore Consignment and Bridal Boutique in the Old Town district of Mankato. Owner Kim Stanton said her wedding dresses range from $150 up to $2,000, with the average price being $699. Heather’s mother Amy Grewe said of the final dress choice, “We’re fully paying it off and taking it home.”

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MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 15


Cindy Bourne (left) and Rick Esser (right) pose for a portrait in the windows of a wall that separates the ceramic room from the rest of the shop at Mankato Makerspace.

Creative spaces Makerspace open in Mankato By Dan Greenwood Photos by Jackson Forderer

I

f you live in the Mankato area and want space with good ventilation to do his mural to learn how to build something – paintings. In the past he had to resort to anything – Makerspace Mankato is the turning offices into spray booths. place to do it. The non“It was so hard for us profit collective opened to find someplace to in Februar y after work,” Esser added. months of preparation “Why not make a bigger in what is a one-of-aplace that everybody kind community space could come and work? MAKERSPACE for creating anything There’s so many college 1700 3rd Ave., Mankato you can possibly think students that have 507-387-7218 of. Painter and artist access to this amazing Hours:Tues.-Fri. 3-10 p.m.; Kendrick Daum and shop while they’re in Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. handyman Rick Esser school and then once Weekly open house tours: founded Makerspace they graduate that’s it. Tues: 6-8 p.m. with other like-minded They have to start artists as a communal working at their kitchen space to work on their own projects. tables and their back bedrooms.” “It all started with Rick and I needing a While the concept started out with a few place to work in the winter,” Daum said. people, it has ballooned to include anyone Daum is responsible for many of the and everyone with an interest in building, murals around town and needed a larger whether by trade or as a hobby. The 6,000

Cover Spotlight

16 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business


Cindy Bourne fixes a guard for a circular saw at Mankato Makerspace. The warehouse space for the organization that recently opened is at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Pine Street in Mankato. square foot section of the Goodrich Construction building in Mankato’s north side industrial area that they rent provides ample room for them to do their work. Esser makes furniture and musical instruments. He pulls out a box drum called a Cajon that he recently built. It’s just one of the things he’s passionate about. He excitedly talks about all the classes he and others plan to teach to anyone interested. “We have 14 classes right now that we’ve mocked up and are getting ready to put on our website,” Esser said. “I’m also teaching classes on how to fell a tree and make fire wood. I’m teaching classes on wild edibles. There will be all sorts of things going on around here at all times, from intricate quilt making and dyeing classes to how do you sew a button back onto your shirt.” Esser is president of the eight member board in charge of coordinating and organizing Maker Space. Six of the board members are shop heads who carry a specific expertise and work area in the building. There’s a quiet and clean soundproofed room for textiles,

leatherwork and 3D printing. Next to that is a woodshop along with other stations like a print shop, metal-working and glassblowing shop, blacksmith stations and welding booths. Each station lines the walls while the middle area is kept open for larger projects like building fish houses or even a sauna, which is in the works. Members pay a monthly sliding fee based on frequency of access to the building, casual hobbyists pay $30 in exchange for the use of tools and the space for 15 hours a month. More devoted members pay $70 to use the facilities 40 hours a month. Whatever their interests may be, all members have access to any of the work stations. Plus they get discounts on the classes offered. Safety and understanding how to use the tools are predecessors before members can use the equipment. Mandator y introductory classes are required to use the tools and facility. That progresses to higher advanced levels once members learn the foundational skills. Daum and Esser point ahead to big plans for their first year in

operation. This spring they plan to pave the 7,000 square foot parking lot out back to hold a Maker’s Bazaar once a month, with a food truck and live music creating a party-like atmosphere. “Any member will get a chance to set up a table and vend their wares that they’ve been making inside,” Esser said. Esser says it’s hard to believe that what began as just a concept in 2015 has come to fruition. He says members of the community have been donated 90 percent of the tools and equipment that are in there now. They also say building owner Ron Goodrich of Goodrich Construction has been a huge advocate for their cause, and is largely responsible for making their dream into a reality. “He had the knowledge of what needs to be done in a commercial setting, what a lot of these rules and regulations are, he’s gotten the engineers involved,” Esser said. “If we would have just tried to move into an empty building like this without somebody like Ron in our corner we probably wouldn’t have even opened the doors.” MV

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 17


Bonnie Thompson, of The Travel & Cruise Center in Mankato, sits by a tiki bar set up in their office, which helps set the mood for those going to beach locations.

18 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business


Better than apps Travel agents adapt to changing industry By Amanda Dyslin | Photos by Pat Christman

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ecky Brooks had booked an expensive trip to The need appears to be growing again as well. The Africa for 12 people, and there was a mix-up hospitality marketing firm MMGY reported that 22 with airfare. percent of U.S. residents who make more than $50,000 “There was a rather big screw-up, per year booked travel with an and we could have been out the agent in 2015, up from 14 percent price of a ticket (close to $2,000 at the year before. The increased the time) if I had booked the tickets demand also isn’t just coming from myself,” she said. older generations. According to a THE TRAVEL & However, Brooks was covered. Forbes report in November 2017, She had used Charles Lutes of Lutes 34 percent of millennials who CRUISE CENTER Travel. He was able to go in and fix traveled used travel agents in 2015. 429 N Riverfront Dr., the problem. Thompson said trends have Mankato “Since then, I realize how much shifted, but the fact remains that 507-625-3153 more relaxed I am trusting him to travel agents provide expert advice Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. set things up,” she said, adding that and tips; they are live human beings Lutes has also found the best deals who can assist when things go LUTES TRAVEL on travel versus those Brooks finds wrong; and they can even often 112 Marshall St., Mankato online. beat the prices you find online, she 507-625-1658 Rachael Hanel only uses Lutes, said. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. too, stating convenience as the main Finding savings reason for not booking deals herself Thompson has a client who goes online. to Europe every year, and she found that airfare would “It’s so awesome to just make one call or email and cost $920. So Thompson did some digging into Delta everything is planned for you,” she said. offers and discounts and found that airfare plus a car Yet, Bonnie Thompson, owner of The Travel & rental combined would cost $769. Cruise Center in Mankato, used the words “almost “These are things people don’t know if they don’t extinct” when talking about the travel agency industry, call us,” Thompson said. as compared to its pre-internet heyday. A lot more Rachelle Rude, a travel consultant at The Travel & agencies existed in the days when the majority of Cruise Center, said most of the time, travel agents can people would use agents to just buy airline tickets, let beat a third-party website or app price. alone book packages and cruises. “As travel agents, we have direct access with the “All day long, we would just print tickets,” Thompson airlines. We have specific browsers that we have said of the 1980s and ’90s. access with,” she said. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Thompson says she’ll even check online to compare number of travel agents in the U.S. went from 124,000 prices, and with hotels, for example, she likes to go in 2000 to 74,100 in 2014. That is likely due in large directly to the hotel to see what deals they are part to the fact that now the ability to book every offering. Sometimes there are discounts for being an aspect of a trip is literally a few clicks away on a device AAA member, for example. in your pocket. “On occasion, a site like Expedia, for example, may But despite that, Thompson says, business is have a lower fare. But usually there’s something booming at The Travel & Cruise Center in Mankato. they’re missing,” Thompson said. “We are so busy,” said Thompson, who started in For example, the cheap flight may be due to the travel industry in Hutchinson in 1980 and began extended layovers or “three weird connections.” working at The Travel & Cruise Center five years “I’m not saying you can’t ever get better deals later. “There is still a need.”

Profile

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 19


Booking tours is a big part of Travel & Cruise Center’s business. (online). In this business, every day is different,” she said. “But you really have to be careful.” Many travel advice articles online say to book travel during specific days of the week, or during certain months of the year to get the best price. But Thompson and Rude both said there are no hard-and-fast rules to saving on travel. The industry literally changes daily, and agents monitor that activity for a living.

Personal ser vice

Rude said she recommends that if a client’s online booking of a packaged trip is within $100 of what a travel agency charges, the client should go with the agency. “We’ve had people call who have booked through, say, Orbitz, and they say, ‘My flight got canceled. Can you help?’” she said. Travel agencies don’t have access to third-party bookings, so they have no way of helping a client who didn’t book through them. The comfort of knowing a human being is waiting to fix problems is worth the extra money in situations when travel agents can’t beat third-party prices, she said. “I think it’s completely worth it,” she said. Thompson’s sister-in-law was going to Belize and got delayed and missed her connection in Atlanta. Delta had her rebooked two days later, but Thompson was

20 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

able to jump into the reservation system and get her onto a quicker flight. “If you booked through Orbitz or Travelocity, you sit on hold, or you just end up sitting in Atlanta for two days,” Thompson said.

Travel experience

Rude said a lot of people will go online, do research on trips, and bring in comparable deals to the travel center. With the number of sites offering deals, and the hundreds of different options and packages, clients are often looking to her and the other agents for clarity. “People get overwhelmed,” Rude said. “So by the time you put all your time and energy into it, is it worth it?” Travel agents are well traveled. Chances are, they’ve booked the exact vacation you want to take many times before. They’re familiar with the cities, states and even countries. (Rude said everyone at The Travel & Cruise Center has their specialties.) Agents also know the travel requirements, such as Visa and passport information, and safety concerns if going to certain international locations. They can even offer tips on nice restaurants, leisure activities and hotels with views and special accommodations. “I had a lady who found a cheap trip going from


Minneapolis to Mexico, and she told me what she found,” Rude said. “I said, ‘Do you know this specific hotel is not all-inclusive? That’s why your price is so cheap.’” Thompson said she has absolutely no problem with clients doing research on their own and booking part of their travel online before coming to the center for help with other things. For example, some people want to book an Airbnb place and then have Thompson help with an airline ticket. She just lets them know that if a customer books a travel package with the Travel Center, there is no service fee. But because airlines no longer provide a commission to travel agents for ticket sales alone, clients have to pay a $25 service fee for just an airline ticket.

Offering convenience

Traveling can involve a lot of details and steps. Many clients like to answer a few questions about location, budget and preferences and let travel agents handle all the headaches and details while (many times) getting the best prices, Rude said. Group travel vacations are another popular part of the travel center’s business, Thompson said. Seniors, especially, appreciate having an entire trip planned for them, Thompson said. Then there are the little conveniences that travel agents help with: seating assignments, frequent flyer programs, even helping people who aren’t computer savvy print their boarding passes. “We take care of all those teeny details,” Rude said. MV

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MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 21


Chad Ziemke, general manager, said he’s seeing some former customers return after the fitness center’s expansion. Bottom: Fitness for $10 expanded its space recently and added services.

More ways to get fit Fitness for $10 expands space, offerings By Amanda Dyslin Photos by Pat Christman

A

wall to wall mural of a highway going the Mankato Design Center used to be off into the distance is positioned housed, took the square footage from about behind the stationary bikes in the 16,000 feet to 24,000 feet. With the new space Cycle Studio at Fitness came various new for $10 in Mankato. offerings, new equipment, It’s not until you climb new classes and more, on, start pedaling and and much of it comes at a look to the mirrored wall higher cost. FITNESS FOR $10 in front that you realize The basic $10 1351 Madison Ave., why it’s behind the bikes. membership is still in Mankato The mural is positioned place, which gets people 507- 722-0948 just right so that everyone access to the weight and Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 24 hours; on a bike looks like they’re cardio equipment. (If you Fri. until 10 p.m.; riding on down that open want that membership Sat.-Sun. 6 a.m.-8 p.m. road. with a no-commitment “It’s really cool,” said clause, it’ll cost you $14.99 Chad Ziemke, general manager of Fitness per month.) for $10 in Mankato. The VIP membership – which existed It’s also just one piece of the overhauled before the expansion but now has a few more building that has been drawing in new perks – is $19.99 per month (a 99-cent members, Ziemke said, as well as prompting increase). This membership includes access longtime members to spend more than twice to weight and cardio equipment, tanning, red (or even five times) as much on their light therapy (red, low-light wavelengths memberships. said to help in the process of tissue recovery), An expansion of the gym to the main level hydro massage, a sectioned off “spa area” of the building at 1351 Madison Ave., where with combination lockers, and access to an

Feature

22 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business


Customers can pick from a variety of TVs to watch and listen to from their treadmill. XGT fitness room. VIPs can also bring a guest. “The red light therapy is extremely popular. We’ve had people sign up just for that,” Ziemke said. The biggest membership change is in the offering of the $49.99 Studio membership. Those members get everything above, plus access to all the classes and studio spaces, including the Cycle Studio in the lower level and the Fit Studio on the main level, where new instructors are teaching a variety of yoga, strength and cardio classes. For those who tan, Studio members also get access to new premium tanning beds. “We are offering a ton of classes – over 40 classes,” Ziemke said. When there isn’t a class, if a member wanted to go into the Cycle Studio alone or with a group of friends, there’s a projector screen and virtual classes that they can take whenever they want. “And as that membership evolves, we’ll add more variety,” Ziemke said. Around the building there are changes that ever ybody can

appreciate, Ziemke said. Additional space was added for the free weights, eliminating bottlenecking issues, for example. There are open areas to stretch, some bright colored paint has added some energy to the spaces, new equipment has been added (non-motorized treadmills, for example), and a bunch of equipment is now on the main level for people who like to workout with windows and natural light. “We’ve seen a lot of our members who have dropped come back (since the expansion),” Ziemke said. Michael Gerrit Bosch has been a member for three years and said the renovation looks nice, and it’s good to have more space, he said. “It’s nice having the cardio and weight equipment separate,” he said. “The only bad part is in order to use a lot of the expansion you need to be a Studio member, which is over twice the price.” This is the second major renovation Fitness for $10 has undergone since it opened in the lower level of the building with 11,000 square feet in the summer

of 2013. At the time they had basic cardio and weight equipment, said Ziemke, who has been the manager for all but the first three months of business. At the time, he said, the $10 price point was a great deal because no one else was offering a gym membership at that cost in the area. “People really liked that price point,” Ziemke said, which caused a growing membership. “We knew pretty quick we needed to expand.” The first expansion into the former R. Henry Construction space added a few thousand square feet, but still kept the gym in the lower level in 2015. That’s when the $19 VIP tier membership was added with features like the hydromassage. With the new expansion completed, Ziemke said the staff jokes that there’s nowhere else they can grow into from here. “We kind of keep joking because the owner of the gym owns the whole building, but the building is full now,” he said. “There’s nowhere to expand to; we’re full.” MV

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 23


Business and Industry Trends ■

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24 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

Coal use falls

The share of U.S. total utilityscale electricity generation from natural gasfired power plants to rise from 32 percent in 2017 to 34 percent in both 2018 and 2019, according to the Energy Information Administration. The forecast generation share from coal in both 2018 and 2019 averages 29 percent, down from 30 percent in 2017. The nuclear share of generation was 20 last year and is expected to hold steady this year and fall one percent next year.


Renewables at 10%

Retail/Consumer Spending

Nonhydropower renewables provided slightly less than 10 percent of electricity generation in 2017 and are expected to provide the same this year until rising to 11 percent in 2019. The generation share of hydropower was over 7 percent in 2017 and is forecast to fall just below that in 2018 and 2019.

Vehicle Sales Mankato — Number of vehicles sold

Coal production dropping

1500

Coal production will decline by almost 5 percent to 736 million short tons in 2018 and then increase by 1 percent in 2019. Lower expected global demand for U.S. coal exports (down 17 percent in 2018 and another 5 percent in 2019) and lower forecasts of coal use in the electric power sector contribute to the forecast of lower coal production. U.S. coal exports were 97 MMst in 2017, a 61 percent increase from the previous year, but they are expected to decrease in both 2018 and 2019. Exports of metallurgical coal, which are used in the steelmaking process, remain at 55 MMst in 2018 and decline to 54 MMst in 2019.

Crude prices fall

North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $65 per barrel in February, a decrease of $4/barrel from the January level and the first month-over-month average decrease since June 2017. Brent spot prices should average about $62/barrel in both 2018 and 2019 compared with an average of $54/barrel in 2017. West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices should average $4 lower than Brent prices in both 2018 and 2019.

Record natural gas output

U.S. dry natural gas production averaged 73.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017. EIA forecasts that natural gas production will average 81.7 Bcf/d in 2018, establishing a new record. That level would be 8.1 Bcf/d higher than the 2017 level and the highest annual average growth on record. EIA expects natural gas production will also increase in 2019, with forecast growth of 1.0 Bcf/d. In February, the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub natural gas spot price averaged $2.66 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), down $1.03/MMBtu from January. Winter weather moderated in February after extremely cold temperatures in much of the country during the first half of January. U.S. heating degree days were an estimated 17 percent lower than the 10-year average for February, which contributed to lower consumption and prices.

CO2 emissions go up

After declining by 0.6 percent in 2017, EIA projects that energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will increase by 1 percent in 2018 and by another 0.8 percent in 2019. Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.

- 2016 - 2017 917 701

1200 900 600 300 0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato Includes restaurants, bars, telecommunications and general merchandise store sales. Excludes most clothing, grocery store sales. $428

Sales tax collections Mankato (In thousands)

- 2016 - 2017

600

$419

500 400 300 200 100 0

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Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato

Lodging tax collections Mankato/North Mankato

- 2016 - 2017 $32,300 $27,978

70000 52500 35000 17500 0

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Source: City of Mankato

Mankato food and beverage tax - 2016 - 2017 175000 140000

$60,900 $58,935

105000 70000 35000 0

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Source: City of Mankato

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C. Sankey

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 25


Agricultural Outlook

By Kent Thiesse

USDA makes first projections for ‘18 crops and livestock E

ach year in late February the USDA “Ag Outlook Forum” is held in Washington, DC. It usually offers the first USDA projection for expected crop acreage for the coming growing season, as well as other current economic conditions in the agriculture industr y. The latest Forum projected similar levels of both U.S. corn and soybean acreage for 2018, as compared to 2017 acreage, as well as forecasting the continuation modest price levels and tight profit margins for the coming year. Based on the USDA projections, U.S. farm income levels in 2018 are expected to be at the lowest level since 2009, with the outlook for most commodity prices similar to 2017, and in some cases slightly lower. This will make five years in a row of tight profit margins in farming and reduced farm income levels. The level of U.S. net farm income in 2018 is estimated at $59.5 billion, which is a decline of $4.3 billion or 6.7 percent from the 2017 net farm income level. The 2018 U.S. net farm income level is approximately half of national net farm income level five years earlier in 2013. Total cash receipts for all U.S. farm commodities are expected to decline by about $2 billion in 2018, as compared to a year earlier. Total cash receipts for corn and milk are expected to show the greatest declines, while cash receipts for soybeans in 2018 are likely to increase due to the

increased U.S. soybean production in 2017. Total farm production expenses are expected to increase by $3.5 billion in 2018, compared to last year. Expenses for fuel, labor, and interest are expected to show the most significant increases. Most agricultural economists point out that the current farm financial stress has not reached the levels or magnitude of the 1980’s farm financial crisis; however, they are concerned about the continued slow deterioration of the U.S. agricultural economy. In recent years, there has been an average of 2.4 farm bankruptcies per 10,000 farms, which compares to 23 bankruptcies per 10,000 farms at the height of the 1980’s farm crisis. One concern raised during the Ag Outlook Forum was the rapidly rising level of farm debt. Many farm operators have had to refinance debt in recent years, due to low farm profit levels and inability to fully repay annual farm operating loans. Another concern is that farm interest rates on farm debt have begun to increase in the past year, with additional interest rate increases being projected for next twelve months. The good news is that current farm interest rates are still well below the extremely high interest rate levels during the 1980’s farm crisis.

26 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

Following are the USDA Ag Outlook Forum for 2018 U.S. crop acreage, yield, production, and price projections for the major U.S. crops: • Total - Total U.S. acreage planted to corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton in 2018 is estimated at 239.8 million acres, which is an increase of 900,000 from last year. In 2017, the final planted acreage of the four major crops exceeded the initial projections by 3 million acres. • Corn - U.S. corn acreage is estimated at 90 million acres for 2018, which is similar to the 2017 planted corn acreage of 90.2 million acres, but is well below the 94 million planted acres in 2016. USDA is projecting a trend line corn yield of 174 bushels per acre in 2018, which would result in an estimated total U.S. corn production of nearly 14.4 billion bushels. The U.S. average corn yield has exceeded the expected trend line yield in both 2016 and 2017. USDA estimated the 2018-19 corn ending stocks at 2.27 billion bushels, with a market-year average (MYA) price of $3.40 per bushel. This compares to the current estimated 2017-18 corn ending stocks of nearly 2.13 billion bushels, and a projected average MYA price of $3.35 per bushel.


• Soybeans - 2017 U.S. soybean acreage is also expected to be 90 million acres, which is similar to the 2017 level of 90.1 million acres; however, represents a substantial increase from the 83.4 million planted acres in 2016. USDA is estimating the 2018 trend line soybean yield at 48.5 bushels per acre, which would be below the record U.S. soybean yield of 52 bushels per acre in 2016, and the 2017 average soybean yield of 49.1 bushels per acre. Total 2018 U.S. soybean production is projected to exceed 4.3 billion bushels, with an estimated 460 million bushels of ending stocks and an average MYA soybean price of $9.25 for 2018-19 marketing year. The projected MYA price for 201718 is $9.30 per bushel. • Wheat - U.S. wheat acreage in 2018 is projected to be 46.5 million acres, landing just above the 46 million planted wheat acres in 2017, which was the lowest level in the previous six years. USDA is estimating the 2018 U.S. wheat yield at 47.4 bushels per acre, with a total production of nearly 1.84 billion bushels, which compares to a wheat yield of 46.3 bushels per acre and a total production of just over 1.74 billion bushels in 2017. USDA is projecting an8average MYA price of $4.70 per bushel for the 2018-19 marketing year, compared to the current 6 estimate of $4.65 per bushel for the 2017-18 year. • Cotton - U.S. cotton acreage for 2018 is estimated at 413.3 million acres, which is an increase of approximately 15 percent from the 11.5 million acres 2 in 2017. The 2018 cotton acreage would be considerably higher than the 10.1 million planted acres 0 in 2016, or 8.6 million planted acres in 2015. J

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Agriculture/ Agribusiness Corn prices — southern Minnesota 8

20 16

6

$3.38

12

4

8

2 0

$3.11

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0

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(dollars per bushel)

— 2017 — 2018 8 20 100 16 6 85 $9.53 12 470 8 255 $8.77 4 40 0 0 J F M A M J J A S O N D 25 J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D Source: USDA

USDA Livestock Forecast

Milk prices

85

M

Soybean prices — southern Minnesota

20 100 25 16 85 $60.53 22 12 70 19 8 55 16 4 $59.59 40 13 0 J F M 25 10 J F M J F M Source: USDA

• Cattle - USDA is projecting total 2018 U.S. beef 70 production at 27.7 billion pounds, which is a 5.9 percent increase over 2017. Export levels are 55 expected to reach 3 billion pounds in 2018, which would 40 be an increase of 5.7 percent from 2017. USDA is estimating the average fed cattle market 25 for 2018 in a range of $116 to $123 per price J F M A M J J A S O N D hundredweight, which would be slightly below the 2017 average price of $122.72 per hundredweight (cwt.).

A

Source: USDA

Most grain market analysts have been predicting 2018 crop acreage totals similar to the USDA acreage projections, with approximately 90 million planted acres for 8 both corn and soybeans. The analysts expect this scenario to put some market pressure on corn and 100 soybean prices in the coming months, particularly 6 if we85 get favorable growing conditions. On the other hand, 4the reduced 2018 acreage for wheat could create 70some pricing opportunities in future months for the 2018 crop, especially if there are any production 552 challenges. The monthly USDA Supply and Demand Reports, along with the weekly USDA crop progress 400 reports, J willF provide M A M important J J A updated S O Ncrop D production and marketing data during the coming 25 J F M A M J J A S O N D growing season. USDA also releases projections for livestock production and estimated price levels for the coming 100 year. Here are the livestock projections:

(dollars per bushel)

— 2017 — 2018

Iowa-Minnesota hog prices

185 pound carcass, negotiated price, weighted average

— 2017 — 2018

25 22 19 16 13

A M J A M J A M J

J J J

A S O N D A S O N D A S O N D

Minimum prices, class 1 milk Dollars per hundredweight

— 2016 — 2017 25 22

$18.68

19 16 13 10

$16.89 J

F

M

20 25 16 22 12 19 8 16 4 13 0 J 10

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: USDA. Based on federal milk orders. Corn and soybean prices are for rail delivery points in Southern Minnesota. Milk prices are for Upper Midwest points.

C. Sankey

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 27

10

J

J


Construction/Real Estate Residential building permits Mankato

Commercial building permits Mankato

- 2016 - 2017 (in thousands)

- 2016 - 2017 (in thousands)

$996 $1,109

18000

12000 10000

13500

4000

4500

2000

0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

0

D

Source: City of Mankato

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of Mankato Information based on Multiple Listing Service and may not reflect all sales

Existing home sales: Mankato region - 2016 - 2017 (in thousands)

Median home sale price: Mankato region - 2016 - 2017 (in thousands)

250

300

132 143

240

$163,500

200

$143,000

150

180

100

120

50

60

0 J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Realtors Association of Southern Minnesota

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Realtor Association of Southern Minnesota

Interest Rates: 30-year fixed-rate mortgage

Includes single family homes attached and detached, and town homes and condos

Housing starts: Mankato/North Mankato

— 2016 — 2017

- 2017 - 2018

5.5

50

5.0

40

4.5

4.1%

30

4.0

4

20

3.5 3.0

$2,227

6000

9000

0

$3,992

8000

4.1% J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

Source: Freddie Mac

N

10 D

0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Cities of Mankato/North Mankato

Thank You for voting us #1 Auto Repair and Best Auto Mechanic 6 years in a Row!

Real Knowledge. Real Experience. Real Dedication. Real Results.

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Tim Lidstrom CCIM/Broker

100 Warren Street, Suite 708, Mankato, MN 56001

507-625-4606

507-387-1315 1620 Commerce Drive North Mankato www.AustinsAutoRepairCenter.com

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28 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

Karla Jo Olson Broker


Gas Prices

5

Gas prices-Mankato

— 2017 — 2018

54 43 $2.36

32 21 10 0

J

F

M

J

F

M

$2.25

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Gas prices-Minnesota

— 2017 — 2018

5 54 $2.35

43 32

$2.25

21 10

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

C. Sankey

Source: GasBuddy.com

0

J

F

Stocks of local interest

Feb. 7

March 13

Percent change

Archer Daniels

$42.40

$44.24

+4.3%

Ameriprise

$160.10

$158.91

-0.7%

Best Buy

$76.39

$71.52

-6.4%

Crown Cork & Seal

$54.87

$51.34

-6.4%

Consolidated Comm.

$11.72

$11.83

+1.0%

Fastenal

$53.09

$57.76

+8.8%

General Growth

$22.09

$21.43

-3.0%

General Mills

$54.75

$51.99

-5.0%

Itron

$68.45

$76.50

+11.8%

Johnson Outdoors

$67.03

$67.39

+0.5%

3M

$233.16

$237.57

+1.9%

Target

$73.51

$71.17

+1.9%

U.S. Bancorp

$54.79

$54.15

-1.2%

Winland

$1.50

$1.36

-9.3%

Xcel

$46.13

$43.51

+0.8% C. Sankey

• Hogs - USDA is projecting total U.S. pork production for 2018 at the record level of 26.9 billion pounds, which would be 5.9 percent above the 2017 production level. The good news is that pork exports in 2018 are also expected to increase by nearly 5 percent in 2018 to approximately 5.9 billion pounds. USDA is estimating 2018 average hog market prices in a range from $47 to $49 per cwt., which is below the average hog price of $50.48 per hundredweight in 2017. • Dair y - USDA is projecting total U.S. dairy production for 2018 to increase slightly from 2017 levels, reaching a record level of 218.7 billion pounds. Dairy cow numbers are similar to a year earlier, but milk production per cow continues to increase. The bad news for dairy producers is that USDA is expecting 2018 milk prices to be in a range of $15.70 to $16.40 per cwt., which is a decline from the average milk price of $17.63 per cwt. in 2017. Economists at the USDA Forum expect farm land values in most major crop producing areas of the U.S to decline moderately in the next 12 months; however, they do not anticipate a sharp collapse in land values, similar to the 1980’s. Many ag lenders reported much tighter scrutiny by Federal and State Bank examiners on agriculture related loans, which may could make ag credit more difficult for farm operators facing financial challenges. Most of the agriculture financial experts are expecting some tight margins and increasing farm financial challenges in the next couple of years; however, none of the experts were predicting a repeat of the farm financial crisis of the 1980’s.

Kent Thiesse is farm management analyst and vice president, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal. 507- 381-7960; kent.thiesse@ minnstarbank.com

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 29


Minnesota Business Updates

■ Renewables jump to second

■ Frontier investigated

Renewable energy is overtaking nuclear as Minnesota’s second-largest source of electricity generation, while coal remains the largest source, according to a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Renewable energy made up 25 percent of the state’s electricity generation in 2017, up from 23 percent in 2016 and 21 percent in 2013. Wind power alone accounted for 18 percent of Minnesota’s generation last year, with hydro and solar comprising most of the rest of the renewable category. While coal makes up nearly 40 percent of the state’s energy it will decline further as Xcel Energy retires much of its large Sherco coal plant.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has asked the state’s attorney general and Department of Commerce to investigate a large volume of complaints against Frontier Communications, a major telecommunications company. The commission says the complaints are related to customer service, billing practices and service quality. KSTP-TV reports the PUC says that after attempts to mediate the complaints, many of them remain unresolved. Frontier spokeswoman Christine Reap says the company takes customer complaints seriously and will be working with the PUC on the matter.

■ Best Buy sales jump

Frontier, a large publicly traded company, also said that in recent months, it has updated its billing software and made “process improvements” and will continue to do so. Frontier is the second largest landline phone company in Minnesota, operating as both Frontier and Citizens Telecommunications. With more than 98,000 landlines, Frontier serves parts of northeastern and southern Minnesota as well as Rosemount, Apple Valley, Farmington and Burnsville in the metro area.

Best Buy reported a greater-than-expected jump in quarterly sales as it sold more mobile phones, gaming products and appliances during the key holiday season. The company benefited from the exit and decline of some competitors such as RadioShack and HH Gregg Inc, which filed for bankruptcy and closed hundreds of stores, and tumbling sales at Sears. Best Buy continued to gain market share during the fourth quarter and benefited from strong customer demand and improved product availability, Chief Executive Hubert Joly said on an earnings conference call.

Employment/Unemployment Initial unemployment claims Nine-county Mankato region Major January Industry 2017 2018 Construction Manufacturing Retail Services Total*

356 287 43 224 910

Local non-farm jobs Percent change ‘17-’18

525 437 63 256 1,281

Construction 122000 122000 Manufacturing Retail 111000 Services 111000 Total*

7,147 3,167 1,354 4,818 16,486

122000

1400 700

100000

J

F

M

A

M

J

Minnesota Local non-farm jobs (in thousands)

8000 3500 3500 6000 2800 2800 4000 2100 2100

+30.3% -0.5% -3.5% +12.0% +16.2%

Services consist of administration, educational, health care and social 100000 assistance, food andJ otherF miscellaneous services. M A M J J A S O 100000 J don’t F equal M total A because M Jsome Jcategories A not S listed. O N *Categories

30 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

2100

111000

Percent change ‘17-’18

9,311 3,152 1,306 5,400 19,169

3500

129,587

2800

+47.5% +52.3% +46.5% +14.3% +40.8%

Minnesota initial unemployment claims January 2017 2018

126,189

133000

Services consist of administration, educational, health care and social assistance, food and other miscellaneous services. *Categories don’t equal total because some categories not listed.

Major Industry 133000 133000

- 2017 - 2018

Nine-county Mankato region

J

A

S

O

N

D

D

N

D

0

J

- 2017 - 2018

2,845 2,963

2000 1400 1400

700

0

700 0 J F M A M J J A S O N D 0 J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D

200000 150000 100000 50000 0

J


O

O

Leipold, chairman and CEO, noted that that during the first fiscal quarter, the company is ramping up for the primary selling period of its warm-weather outdoor recreation products across the second and third fiscal quarters. “Overall it was a good start to the fiscal year.” Sales in the quarter improved 24.4 percent to $116.6 million. The gains were led by its largest segment, Fishing, which saw sales run up 32.6 percent to $88.9 million. Operating profits in the segment doubled to $14.1 million from $7.2 million. The segment includes Minn 133000 Kota fishing motors, batteries and anchors; Cannon downriggers and Humminbird marine electronics and charts. 122000

■ Target adds same-day delivery Target rolled out its latest move to better compete with rivals such as Amazon. The Minneapolis-based retailer launched a same-day delivery service in the Twin Cities. Deliveries from 50 Target stores are available to the vast majority of households in the greater metro area, including those in western Wisconsin. There’s a $99 annual fee for unlimited deliveries on orders of $35 or more, according to NPR. Some 55,000 items will be eligible for delivery, including perishable groceries, electronics and toys. Clothing will be included in the future. Lots of retailers are ramping up same-day delivery services, from Amazon and Best Buy to Walmart and Macy’s. Shipt, a company that Target bought for $550 million last year, is hiring 4,000 people locally to pick and distribute orders. Customers select delivery time periods and must be present to accept shipments.

■ Companies settle corn suit 111000

■ Johnson Outdoors strong 133000

Johnson Outdoors reported significantly improved earnings in its first quarter as continued 122000 momentum in its Fishing and Diving segments offset 122000 ongoing struggles in Camping and Watercraft Recreation. 111000 111000 On a conference call with analysts, Helen Johnson133000

100000

100000 J F

J M

M J

J A

J S

1400 2000

N

D

A O

S N

O D

6000

J F M A M M A M J J M A M J J

J A A

J S S

A S O N O N D O N D

124,159

50000 0

J

F

F M A M AJ FA M

M MJ

J JA

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

J JS

A AO

S N S

O D O

N N

D D

(includes all of Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties) 200000 150000

Janaury

100000

D

0

J

0 F

J M

F M A A M J

M J

J A

2017

2018

3.9% 57,606 2,340

3.2% 60,434 1,980

J S

A O

S N

O D

N

D

Unemployment rates Counties, state, nation County/area

- 2017 - 2018

100000

D

0 0 J F JM

J

Unemployment rate Number of non-farm jobs 50000 50000 Number of unemployed

148,454

150000

50000

Mankato/North Mankato Metropolitan statistical area

100000

2000

200000

D 0

2100 1400

700 2000

700

150000

4000

0 F F

1400

200000

Minnesota number of unemployed

N

N

7,107 8000 6,276

700 0 J 0 J

2100

- 2017 - 2018

Nine-county Mankato region

4000 2100

2800

2800

Archer Daniels Midland and Syngenta have settled 700 lawsuits over the release of a new biotech corn strain 100000 0 that upended J J FUS Mgrain A exports M J toJ China. A S O N D ADM had accused Swiss-based seed company Syngenta of negligence when it introduced two new varieties of genetically modified corn to US farmers. The strains had not yet been approved by authorities in China 3500 and in 2013 were turned away by inspectors in 8000 costing the grain-trading industry tens of 200000 Beijing, 2800 of dollars. Syngenta was also sued by farmers millions 6000 and Cargill, an ADM competitor. The farmers reached a 150000 2100 $1.5 billion settlement with Syngenta last September. 4000 Cargill case was set for trial this year but the 100000 The 1400 companies reached a confidential settlement.

Employment/Unemployment

F M A A M J

Local number of unemployed 8000 3500 6000 2800

3500

3500

Blue Earth Brown Faribault Le Sueur 2018 Martin 2017 Nicollet Sibley Waseca Watonwan Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota U.S.

January 2017

January 2018

4.1% 6.2% 6.4% 7.8% 6.0% 3.6% 6.0% 5.7% 6.8% 4.2% 4.7% 5.1%

3.3% 5.6% 5.3% 7.6% 4.1% 2.9% 4.9% 6.6% 5.6% 3.4% 4.0% 4.5%

Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development C. Sankey

Minnesota initial unemployment MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 claims • 31

0

J


Sponsored by the Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation

Global growth powers international fund flows By Associated Press

I

nvestors are increasingly putting money on a relatively less expensive alternative: funds that own international equities. Inflows to long-term mutual funds and exchangetraded funds, or ETFs, focused on international stocks have been increasing this year and also outpacing flows into funds invested in U.S. stocks, according to data from the Investment Company Institute. The trend reflects optimism on the part of investors that a broad global economic resurgence that began last year will continue in 2018. And that sets the stage for international stocks to deliver stronger earnings and potentially see their share prices move higher. International stocks haven’t had as big a run-up as U.S. equities in recent years, which makes the nonU.S. stocks a relatively cheaper buy for investors. “Non-U.S. investing is a great way right now to play the strong synchronized growth theme,” said Jon Eggins, senior portfolio manager at Russell Investments. “We see stronger likely economic growth and earnings growth outside of the U.S. versus in the U.S., even with the recent tax reform.” As recently as 2016, the global economy was still stuck in a slump in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and a debt crisis in Europe. China’s economy was slowing steadily, raising fears of economic fallout in the developing countries that supply raw materials to the world’s second biggest economy. That changed last year, as the global economy picked up, with Europe, Japan, China and many developing nations growing in tandem for the first time in a decade.

32 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

All told, 120 countries, representing three-quarters of world economic output, enjoyed economic growth in 2017, creating the broadest global expansion in seven years, according to the International Monetary Fund. So what’s the outlook for 2018? The international lending agency recently forecast global growth of 3.9 percent for this year and next year, up from an estimated 3.7 percent gain in 2017. In its outlook, the IMF noted surprisingly strong growth in Europe and Asia. While stronger economies overseas have helped boost profits at U.S. multinational corporations, one of the reasons the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index delivered strong gains in 2017, international stocks haven’t experienced as big a run-up as U.S. equities. That’s why many investors betting on the thesis of continued By Alex Veigaglobal growth continue to shift money into funds that focus on overseas companies. “The U.S. is at absolute, high-market valuations, and these other markets are also, they’re just significantly cheaper than the U.S,” said Eggins. He noted that much of the U.S. stock market’s 2017 gain relative to global markets was due to rising valuations as investors increasingly became more willing to pay more for stocks. Eggins manages the Russell Tax-Managed International Equity Fund (RTNSX), which invests in companies in Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada, as well as those in developing markets. The fund, which launched just under three years ago, finished 1 percent higher than its benchmark, iShares’ MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Index. MV


Sponsored by the Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation

Funds expert Q&A: Gold is good hedge to volatility in 2018 Tushar Yadava

By Associated Press

B

y Alex Veiga Gold has traditionally been considered a refuge for investors seeking shelter from a volatile stock market, though the big market tumble this month may have been an exception. One reason the steep market sell-off may not have spurred a big move to gold is many economists and Wall Street experts still project strong global economic growth and improved company earnings this year. Still, many market strategists also expect that Wall Street’s long period of relative calm is at an end. Commodities like gold tend to act as good hedges against inflation and the weak dollar, which has been relatively softer since last year. In light of that tug-of-war between a strong market outlook and concerns that inflation could stage a comeback, what are the prospects for further gains in gold funds? Tushar Yadava, investment strategist for US iShares at BlackRock, weighs in. BlackRock’s funds include the iShares Gold Trust ETF, or exchange-traded fund, which invests in physical gold. Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

How is the market for gold faring this year in light of the recent market correction?

Gold as a portfolio hedge and as a hedge in terms of signs of stress is doing exactly as advertised. It’s delivering that diversification benefit, and it has done that, especially through the volatility over the last couple of weeks. What we do find maybe interesting or slightly different is the long-term outlook here. When you’re in an environment where equities sold off, in part, because of a shock to real rates or interest rates or the inflation outlook as a whole, typically that’s not the best environment for gold overall. But it’s working as a great diversification benefit at the moment.

Many economists expect interest rates to rise this year. How is that likely to affect the gold trade?

What I would say is, gold doesn’t have any cash flows. It is purely a stored value over time, so it is susceptible to inflationary trends and it is susceptible to when real rates are rising, maybe losing some of its relative attractiveness. At any point in time when you’re a holder of gold, you’re holding it to diversify away from the current environment. That is a factor that’s out there, obviously, relative to if the economy is doing really, really well, real rates are rising and earnings for equities are increasing over time. So it might not be the best relative holding over that period of time.

The 2018 outlook for the U.S. economy and company earnings remains strong. At the same time, there’s a likelihood of higher interest rates and more market volatility. Where does a gold hedge fit into this?

We think the global economy has room to run, even though a lot of that expansion occurred in 2017. We think there’s room to run in an expansionary outlook, but we also think inflation is probably making a comeback. Again, with all these factors as you’re weighing them, gold is the hedge, it is the strategic holding to be a diversifier in your portfolio. And we are not viewing gold as some sort of tactical asset allocation bet. I would say, if you have this tactical view of gold, you probably have a darker view on the world. I would argue that gold is being that hedge, that strategic diversifier. And the reason that you would hold it. Gold is also obviously going to be a go-to safe-haven that you’re looking at on days when geopolitical risk is flaring. MV

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 33


ANNOUNCING...

GMG, Inc. and Greater Mankato Growth

NEW LOGOS

o. co

an

gr

ee

ns

ea

m

rm te

en yc

cit

.o rg

ka t

m to ka

itm an

vis 34 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

m

n. co m

ka an rm te ea

Moving forward the corporate entity will be referred to as simply GMG, Inc. instead of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. In turn, the business unit will be referred to as Greater Mankato Growth, not GMG.

to .co m

We wanted each of our four business units to have a distinctive look and identification, so we could eliminate any confusion between the corporation and a business unit.

gr

Greater Mankato Growth

GMG, Inc. and it’s Greater Mankato Growth business unit unveiled new logos at the March 8 Annual Meeting. GMG, Inc. hasn’t had any visual identification in the past, so this is a new visual word mark. Greater Mankato Growth’s logo has been refreshed with a vibrant new look and feel.


100 Block North Front Street looking South • Photograph courtesy of the Blue Earth County Historical Society

Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. Annual Meeting

TAKIN’ CARE OF BUSINESS FOR 150 YEARS

Greater Mankato Growth, Visit Mankato, City Center Partnership and GreenSeam would like to thank everyone for joining us for a successful Annual Meeting on March 8. We kicked off our 150th Anniversary celebration and the success of the entire business community with more than 400 members. We want to give a special thanks to our 2018 sponsors as well as our outgoing board members. To our incoming board members, we welcome you! Once again, congratulations to the 2017 Volunteers of the Year! For photos and videos go to: greatermankato.com/annual-meeting

Congratulations to our 2017 Volunteers of the Year!

John Hemstock

Jodie Hermer

Randy Zellmer

A special THANK YOU to our event sponsors!

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 35

Greater Mankato Growth

Maureen Waltman


Growth in Greater Mankato RIBBON CUTTING

RIBBON CUTTING

RIBBON CUTTING

ARTifact 321 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato

RE-Imagined Life 100 Warren Street, Suite 310-1, Mankato

The Capitol Room 419 South Minnesota, St. Peter

Greater Mankato Growth

Cavalier Calls on the Newest Greater Mankato Growth Members

Cavaliers

DeMars Construction 327 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato demarsgc.com

Edina Realty 313 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato edinarealty.com/office/mankato

Jewison & Associates - American Family Insurance 79 Navaho Avenue, Mankato agent.amfam.com/glenda-jewison/mn/ mankato/79-navaho-ave

Long-Term Employment Connections 188 Mary Circle, North Mankato facebook.com/Long-Term-EmploymentConnections-424515221284648/

OMG - Otto Media Group 1609 North Riverfront Drive, Suite 200 ottomediagroup.com

Prairie Care Medical Group 201 North Broad Street, Suite 200 prairie-care.com

PrimeYourBusiness a greater mankato growth event

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 4 - 7 pm • Verizon Center

This premier event is the perfect opportunity to spotlight your business products and services, while having new and innovative idea exchanges with businesses from across the region…all in a fun and energized environment. This premier event is the perfect opportunity to learn more about our diverse and vibrant business community. Mankato is a market on the move!

Booths are still available. First come, First Serve. Get Registered NOW! greatermankato.com/prime

36 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

Prim

a greater


5:00 - 7:00 pm April 3 May 1 June 5 July 10 August 7 September 4 October 2 November 6 December 4

Gislason & Hunter Prime Your Business Farrish Johnson Law Office Presidio Maschka, Riedy, Ries & Frentz Law Firm Stifel Prime Your Business Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota J. Longs for Men

7:30 - 9:00 am April 18 May 16 June 20 July 18 August 15 September 19 October 17 November 14 December 19

Mayo Clinic Health System Mankato Golf Club Cambria Gallery - River Hills Mall iSpace Environments LIV Aveda Salon & Spa Minneopa Golf Club MRCI Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union Nesbit Agency

2018 Business After Hours Sponsored by:

February Business After Hours hosted by Monarch Healthcare Hillcrest

February Business Before Hours hosted by Minnesota State University, Mankato Strategic Partnership Center

Business After and Business Before Hours gives representatives from Greater Mankato Growth member businesses at the Engaged Level or higher an opportunity to get together with one another to exchange ideas and learn about each other’s businesses. For more information on these and other member events, visit greatermankato.com/events.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 •11:30 am - 1 pm Verizon Center - Ellerbe Room • 1 Civic Center Plaza, Mankato

Greater Mankato Growth's Public Affairs Forum Series brings together compelling speakers and business leaders to discuss timely and relevant political and policy issues.

Register at: greatermankato.com/forum

LIMITED SEATING AVAILABLE

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 37

Greater Mankato Growth

2018 Economic Forecast Featuring Hans Olsen of Stifel

About the Speaker: Hans Olsen is a Mana ging Director and Global Head of Inv estment Strategy for Stifel. He leads the cre ation of investment ins ights on markets, strategic and tactical asset allo cations, and opportunistic/them atic investment ideas and manages a team comp rised of market strategists, po rtfolio construction consultants, and beha vioral and quantitative finance sp ecialists.


Better Meetings.

ADVENTUROUS DESTINATION.

By Danielle Duffey, Visit Mankato’s Group Sales Director

W

hen hosting a meeting or conference, there are many elements to consider: location, adequate meeting rooms, hotel accommodations, off-site activities and many more. What’s great about Mankato is that everything is so close. With highly skilled event management teams to unique and flexible state-of-the-art facilities, ideal accommodations to exciting nightlife, the convenience, affordability and atmosphere of Mankato make any gathering special and memorable. Take it from one meeting planner who recently hosted a board retreat in Mankato:

GROUPS CAN KAYAK OR CANOE MANKATO’S RIVERS TOGETHER

“Mankato was a wonderful host for our corporate meeting/team building event! From kayaking down the Minnesota River, to homemade ice cream, to dinner and drinks at more than one restaurant, and wine tasting in the barrel room at Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery. We had a blast and would recommend Mankato as a great destination for your next event!” Beyond exceptional meeting venues, Greater Mankato is a unique hub in southern Minnesota, offering attractions and amenities to fit everyone’s interests. Groups don’t need to go far to host a better meeting in an adventurous destination like Mankato. Below are the top reasons why Mankato is an exceptional location to host a meeting or conference.

Greater Mankato Growth

Guests are just minutes away from cuisine and cocktails at nearby restaurants, shopping, and nightlife of Mankato’s urban core when at a meeting at the SHOP IN MANKATO’S Verizon Center. With CITY CENTER over 70,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and the capacity to host events for five to 6,500 participants, the Verizon Center is equipped to host a multitude of events. For those in a group with a more adventurous spirit, Greater Mankato offers outdoor enthusiast options in every season. They can bike or run on our 50 miles of trails; kayak the Minnesota or Blue Earth rivers; or ski the slopes at Mount Kato. The CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour allows attendees to get outdoors for

38 • APRIL 2018 • MN Valley Business

a cultural experience of more than 25 sculptures in a variety of mediums. • On any given night there are numerous entertainment options. The Mankato Symphony Orchestra is just one of the groups to call the Verizon Center’s Grand Hall home. Concerts under the stars are a bonus at the Vetter Stone Amphitheater at Riverfront Park, voted as the (No. 4 Best Outdoor Venue in Minnesota) by the Star Tribune in 2014. Additionally, within walking distance of the Verizon Center and Riverfront Park is the entertainment district where groups enjoy a variety of live music shows. • Day or night, escape rooms are always a cool experience and great for teambuilding. Guests are forced to use observational and critical-thinking skills and explore the elements of an escape room with a team. They use their communication skills to solve puzzles that allow their group to escape—and to solve a mystery. Mankato has two escape rooms— Old Town Escape and Kato Escape—for after-hours conference enjoyment. • History buffs can submerse themselves in history when they meet in Mankato. Did you know Mankato was originally named “Mahkato,” MANKATO OFFERS IDEAL meaning greenishAMENITIES FOR HOSTING MEETINGS blue earth, by its early inhabitants, the Dakota? Guests can learn this and much more when their conference group visits the Blue Earth County Historical Society, featuring an interactive history museum dedicated to the heritage of the county. • Of course, there’s always shopping before, during and after a conference. The Show Your Badge program employs numerous City Center businesses that offer special discounts to attendees who show their badge. Learn more at meetinmankato.com/show-badge. With more than 100 stores, the River Hills Mall is easily another one of Greater Mankato’s biggest draws. The experienced staff at Visit Mankato helps planners find the perfect spot for their next meeting or event for free. To preview the exciting options waiting for a group you want to host in Mankato, visit meetinmankato.com or call 507.385.6662.


NEW Sculptures coming to the City Center

MAY 12

B

efore sunrise on Saturday, April 14, CityArt volunteers will begin taking down the 2017 Walking Sculpture Tour to make way for the 2018 sculptures. Many of the artworks will move on to sculpture walks in other cities; a few have been purchased and will move to their new Mankato homes. The bases will only be empty for a few weeks; on Saturday, May 12 twenty-seven new sculptures will be unveiled in the City Center! Learn more about the Walking Sculpture Tour and other CityArt initiatives at cityartmankato.com.

Maestro 2017 People’s Choice Award Winner

CAPITOL Caravan This year, Greater Mankato Growth is introducing Greater Mankato Capitol Caravan, a new way to advocate on behalf of your business and community.

UPCOMING DATES: April 11 - Legislative visits from 10 am - 3 pm* April 18 - Minnesota Chamber Capitol Day (no Capitol Caravan) April 25 - Legislative visits from 10 am - 3 pm* May 2 - Legislative visits from 10 am - 3 pm* May 9 - Legislative visits from 10 am - 3 pm* May 16 - Legislative visits from 10 am - 3 pm*

A program of:

For more information and to register visit greatermankato.com/public-affairs-events *timing can be flexible

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 39

Greater Mankato Growth

Greater Mankato Capitol Caravan will allow small groups of business and community leaders to maintain a constant presence at the capitol over the entire legislative session and have more personal conversations and interactions with legislators. Greater Mankato Growth also invites all of our members to participate in the Minnesota Chamber Capitol day on April 18 so that you can get the “large group” advocacy experience.


» C OME JU DGE

for Yourself.

GOLFERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD COME TO CHALLENGE THE JUDGE and the two other golf courses in Prattville at RTJ Capitol Hill. Bring your clubs and come take on Judge hole number 1, voted the favorite hole on the Trail. Complete your day in luxury at the Marriott and enjoy dining, firepits and guest rooms overlooking the Senator golf course. With the Marriott’s 20,000 square feet of meeting space, 96 guest rooms and luxurious Presidential Cottage combined with three world-class golf courses, business and pleasure can definitely interact in Prattville.

THE ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF TRAIL AT CAPITOL HILL offers three magnificent 18-hole championship golf courses. The Marriott Prattville is part of the Resort Collection on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Visit www.rtjgolf.com or call 800.949.4444 to learn more.


2017 Research Award recipients (L to R): Leon Chen, Ph.D., Chris Brown Mahoney Ph.D., MS, RN, Oksana Kim Ph.D., FCCA and Byron J. Pike, CPA, Ph.D.

RESEARCH MATTERS

COLLEGE OF BUSINESS RESEARCH DAY April 27 | 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship 424 North Riverfront Drive

different kinds of organizations, whether a corporation, a start-up or even an academic setting.

Full-time faculty all engage in research. The College of Business offers up to four excellence awards, annually, to those faculty who present an outstanding research proposal. The awards are given to those who exhibit excellence in research through previous publications and future contributions to the College and business community. Faculty who receive the monetary award have the freedom to best use it, including attending conferences to present their research or purchasing resources to support their research.

“Business culture is constantly evolving, leadership ideals change, benefits that people seek change, too. You can’t just pause after your doctorate; it’s a journey of constant learning.” Mahoney added.

innovate in their field through conducting research. Many conversations about brilliant ideas are taking place right in your backyard at the College of Business at Minnesota State University, Mankato. On Friday, April 27, the work of researchers will be celebrated and recognized.

“Research is how faculty innovate. Many students and business partners may not be aware of the role of faculty outside teaching. When we are looking to hire faculty members, we expect them to be leaders; an academic leader around campus, as well as a business and thought leader in the community,” said Brenda Flannery, dean of the College of Business. On Research Day, the prominent faculty members who received the previous year’s awards have the platform to present their findings and conclusions of their research. The faculty mainly focus on applied and pedagogical research, rather than basic. Many research concepts and results are learnings that could be applicable at

“Faculty do research to stay up to date in their field. That is how we contribute to the business world. Also, the more current and up to date faculty are, the better job they do teaching,” said Christine Brown Mahoney, professor of management and chair of the College of Business research committee. “Applied research is what we focus on mostly. It’s all about the instructions and practices that can be used right away to tackle contemporary issues in the industry,” she said.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has elevated the research conversation to push the one question that comes across everyone’s mind when they hear about research, “what impact will the research have?” “With research day, it’s our time to celebrate research and the faculty who go the extra mile to bring change and evolve the way we shape the future of business and its’ leaders,” added Flannery. Research Day will take place on April 27 at 9:30 a.m. at the College of Business Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, 424 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN. All are welcome to attend. For more information, visit cob.mnsu.edu/events MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 •

41

Minnesota State University, Mankato College of Business

eaching and shaping minds of future business T leaders is just the beginning of a faculty members’ role. Faculty members continually contribute and


HAND OR WRIST ISSUES?

Don’t let arthritis, carpal tunnel or a fracture limit your potential. Regain functionality in your hand or wrist by visiting our orthopedic experts in Mankato.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato Call 1-877-412-7575 to schedule an appointment. mayoclinichealthsystem.org

MN Valley Business • APRIL 2018 • 42