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The Definitive Business Journal for the Greater Minnesota River Valley December 2017

Scott Michaletz of Kato Insurance. Photo by Pat Christman

Leading the way Successful in business, committed to community Also in this issue • JOE MEIDL OF MUSIC MART • ARTIFACT PAINT YOUR OWN POTTERY • RIVER HILLS PET CARE

The Free Press MEDIA


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WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A TRUSTED ADVISOR Gone are the days of hiring an accountant to prepare your financial statements; handing over boxes of records to an auditor; meeting once a year with a CPA to have your tax returns prepared. Today, business leaders are wanting so much more from their professional relationships, and it’s important you have an advisor you can trust.

Every Business Is Important Business leaders come in all shapes and sizes and lead in many different ways, but a trusted advisor does not discriminate and takes pleasure in working with all types of leaders. Whether you are an owner of a small construction company, the CFO of a large manufacturing business, or a start-up company, you have different challenges and goals, but are a business leader, none the less.

Collaboration is Key Author and speaker John Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” You are a business leader, but that doesn’t mean you have to lead alone. The most successful leaders surround themselves with great people, a trusted advisor is eager to join your side. Trusted advisors work with business leaders in a collaborative effort, building relationships, adding value, sharing goals, capitalizing on opportunities, solving challenges, and celebrating successes.

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Brooke Forstner has been advising businesses on tax planning and compliance concerns for 11 years. She works with clients in a variety of industries including construction, health care and agriculture. She is an active community member and serves on the board of the Madelia Lions Club.

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Find the Right Fit It is important that your values as a business leader and the culture of your company align with the strategic partners you surround yourself with. For example, Eide Bailly has a culture of entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, and fun. We maintain the small firm feel by staying involved in the community and constantly finding ways to foster community growth. We want to be an ally for our clients, bringing them a broader range of resources and expertise. We know the most successful collaborations involve commitment and effective communication. So the next time you lay awake in bed or are leading a team meeting, think about who is absent from the conversations, what partners are missing at the table. Remember, the most successful leaders don’t lead alone. A trusted advisor will work to understand and connect with you so you can always feel confident in your business’ success.


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innesota Law provides for the protection of certain information which an individual or business has created or acquired that is considered to be a “trade secret” under Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“MUTSA”). It can be a helpful tool in protecting trade secret information where there has been an actual or threated breach of secrecy. Trade secret information can include a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process. However, in order to qualify as a trade secret, the information: 1. Must not be generally known or readily ascertained by other persons; 2. Must derive independent economic value from its secrecy; and 3. Must be subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.

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F E A T U R E S December 2017 • Volume 10, Issue 3

12

Scott Michaletz, John Bulcock and Chris Harstad all have success in business and a dedication to community and were honored this year with GMG business awards.

18

Joe Meidl followed in his dad’s footsteps in operating a music store that caters to supplying schools with instruments, starting Music Mart in Mankato in 1991.

20

Kim Ruby and Emily Dinsmore Green both wanted to have a business of their own and teamed up to start ARTifact, a paint your own pottery business in Old Town.

22

River Hills Pet Care Hospital has found the extra space it needed when it moved to a new building that is designed with the pets and their owners in mind.

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 3


DECEMBER 2017 • VOLUME 10, ISSUE 3 PUBLISHER Steve Jameson EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE EDITOR Tim Krohn CONTRIBUTING Tim Krohn WRITERS Kent Thiesse Dean Swanson Amanda Dyslin Dan Greenwood James Figy PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman Jackson Forderer COVER PHOTO Pat Christman PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Phil Seibel MANAGER ADVERTISING Jordan Greer-Friesz Sales 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......................10 ■ 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

Looking back, and looking ahead:

There’s sun and clouds A look back at 2017 offers insights into the resiliency of the local economy and also offers some hopeful signs for the economic future of the region. While the shock to the retail economy was a triple whammy with the closing of Sears, Gordmans and Gander Mountain, Mankato retail trade didn’t really suffer much of a total dollar loss. Sales tax figures from the city of Mankato show a seasonal downturn in February, March and April, and show sales are also down compared to the same months last year. Surprisingly, sales tax figures also show an upturn in May, June, July and August and an increase compared to the same months last year. There also doesn’t appear to be any slowdown in people going out to eat or drink. City of Mankato statistics on the local food and beverage tax show sales in that business have grown ever y month this year through August. So it appears consumers who used to spend money at Sears, Gordmans and Gander Mountain are spending it elsewhere. The number of people employed also showed the same kind of pattern with fewer people employed in January, February and March, and then there was flat employment in April, May, June and an uptick in July, compared with the same months last year. So, the loss of some estimated 300 retail jobs at closed Mankato stores seems to have been mostly made up by hiring. State statistics show a more modest decline in retail trade employment of about 100 from first quarter to second quarter 2017. As to the future, it looks like construction and manufacturing may be leading the way.

4 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

The quarterly census of employment and wages shows biggest gains for construction jobs of about 450 in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties and gains in manufacturing of about 100 jobs from first quarter to second quarter. Both are higher wage job categories, and construction in particular, saw a nice average weekly wage jump from $965 to $1,075, about a 10 percent jump. While builders are generally saying there will likely be a slowing of single family home building and some commercial business, projects that are in the works look promising. There’s another bright spot on the affordable housing front. Affordable housing has long been an economic drag on Mankato’s economy, with current subsidized housing programs that have waiting lists that stretch five years in some cases. Mankato and Blue Earth County have been shown to be some of the worst cities and counties in the state for the high number of people who can’t afford a reasonably priced apartment or home. But two projects in the works now should help meet the demand for af fordable housing. CommonBond Communities is building the 50-unit Dublin Crossing apartment complex, and Joseph Development of Rochester is building a 60-unit apartment building near Rosa Parks Elementary school. Rents will start from $675 per month for one bedrooms to $830 per month for two bedrooms. They mark the first affordable/ workforce housing built in Mankato since 2012. And more is needed. A city of Mankato housing study showed the need for 80-100 two and threebedroom low income units


Local Business People/ Company News

annually, and even more one bedroom units. The Legislature has been supplying funding and financing for affordable housing in years past, but it rejected Gov. Mark Dayton’s $90 million request in the 2016 bonding bill, which would have doubled the $80 million funded in 2016. The wild cards for 2018 regional economy include what might happen with tax reform at the federal level. Reducing corporate taxes from 35 percent to 20 percent would likely have a big impact on corporations, but it’s less clear how much of that would trickle down to Main Street. Doubling the standard deduction for individual returns would seem to go a long way as well. Changes in the mortgage deduction might thwart the homebuilding industr y a bit, especially for the higher end. The negative risk might be a sensitive stock market reacting to a lot of crazy events happening from the Great Wall of China to the Sahara. My pick for the sleeping giant risk would be the farm economy and a significant loss in exports if we change up some trade deals or pull out of others. Something to chew on over your holiday meals.

Fay named manager

Jamie Fay has been named as an audit manager for Eide Bailly in Mankato. Fay, who transferred from the Eide Bailly Fargo office, has more than eight years of public accounting experience and specializes in government audits. She has experience in providing financial statement auditing, compliance testing and leading audit engagement teams. She was born and raised in southern Minnesota. ■■■

Back to Wellness honored

Back to Wellness Clinic, owned by Mark Dehen, has received Fulcrum Health’s ChiroCare Centers of Excellence designation for 2017. This program recognizes clinics that use standard clinical protocols and an integrated,

We’re local.

Got water? Joe Spear is executive editor of Minnesota Valley Business. Contact him at jspear@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6382. Follow on Twitter @jfspear.

Got water?

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Century 21 in Elysian sold

Century 21 Landmark Realtors of Mankato has purchased Century 21 Lake Region Realty in Elysian. Jon Kietzer owns Landmark. Carolyn Gunton-Lewis and her husband Dick Lewis have owned and operated Century 21 Lake Region Realty for nearly 30 years.

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Frentz joins Maschka

Nick Frentz has joined the law firm of Maschka, Riedy & Ries. Frentz joins current partners Jerry Maschka, Chuck Peterson, Marc Christianson, Renee Rubish, Jed Chronic & Nick Maxwell. As of Jan. 1 the firm will be known as Maschka, Riedy, Ries & Frentz Law Firm. ■■■

Rosengren firm honored

Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office was included in the 2018 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers rankings. The firm is recognized in Minneapolis as metropolitan tier 2 for family law. The firm was founded in 2008 in Mankato. Firm par tners, Christopher Rosengren, Jason Kohlmeyer and Thomas Hagen focus their practice in the areas of injury law, family law and Criminal Defense ■■■

Primrose hires sales director

Primrose Retirement Community of Mankato has hired Lori Pietsch to be their new sales director. Pietsch will oversee all marketing and Lori Pietsch sales efforts, as well as public relations events and community outreach, for the independent living and assisted living community. Pietsch is a graduate of Mankato State University and also holds a degree in business education. She brings 25 years of experience in the insurance and financial services industry with her to Primrose.

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Nortech adds technology

Nortech Systems in Mankato and Panasonic have collaborated on a new, total-line-solution installation of integrated hardware and software. It provides enhanced sur face mount technology component placement capability and quality while

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MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 7


increasing efficiency. For more than 25 years, Nortech has provided electronics manufacturing services – from early stage product development and engineering through production, supply chain management and fulfillment. ■■■

Consolidated gives $5,000

The Consolidated Communications Community Fund presented a $5,000 grant to Life-Work Planning Center in Mankato, a pre-employment program for displaced homemakers and women transitioning to the workforce. Life-Work Planning Center’s services include workshops, oneto-one self-sufficiency counseling, computer tutoring, resources, referrals and advocacy, aimed at increasing a woman’s emotional and economic self-sufficiency. ■■■

SouthPoint recognized

local expertise + Working Ingenuity As ISG’s 40+ years of expertise continues to evolve, so does the firm’s steadfast roots in the communities we serve. ISG’s multi-disciplinary team of 250+ professionals, which range from landscape architects and environmental scientists, to engineers and drone, survey, GIS, and visualization specialists, anchor the firm to the streets and neighborhoods where we live, work, and play. Powered by our employee-owners and ESOP structure, each of ISG’s 8 offices embody a spirit of innovation with clients and communities paving the way for meaningful and functional designs that withstand the test of time.

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8 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

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SouthPoint Financial Credit Union, headquartered in Sleepy Eye, has been ranked 7th in the nation for its peer group for “Return to the Member” in Callahan & Associates Return of the Member Index as of June 30, 2017. The ranking system is an index calculation that takes into account a credit unions’ performance compared with its asset peer group. SouthPoint achieved an 89.71 percentile rating in the ROM Score, which considers three main components: Return to savers, return to borrowers, and member service usage. ■■■

Zoet joins True realty

True Real Estate added Realtor, Sonja Zoet, to their Mankato location. Zoet began her career as a licensed agent in Delray Beach, Florida, and Fort Mill, South Carolina. She joined the Mankato market in 2013. Zoet is a graduate of Mankato West, Bethany Lutheran College, St. Olaf College and Minnesota State University.


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Morken adds accountants

Morken Eckberg Steiner added two accountants. Amanda Burrows was born and raised in Mankato and graduated from Mankato West. She attended NDSU in Fargo and then transferred to Metropolitan State University in the Twin Cities where she graduated with a degree in accounting and finance. Phil Carter is originally from Gaylord and served eight years in the Army before completing his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Accounting at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. He lives in Lake Crystal. ■■■

Mediacom employees recognized

Two local Mediacom employees earned top customer ser vice awards and recognition by the company’s senior management team during a ceremony in Waseca. Alan Mclean, a resident of Lake Crystal, was awarded as the system Area Operations Employee of the Year for his work as a broadband specialist in the technical operations field. Mclean has been employed with Mediacom for 11 years. Eric Larson, a resident of Madison Lake, was recognized with the People’s Choice Award for his work as a broadband specialist in the technical operations field. Recipients of the award are chosen based on customer satisfaction scores. ■■■

Kelly, Partridge recognized

Scott Kelly and William Partridge of Farrish Johnson Law Office have been named “Super Lawyers” for 2017. The award from Thomson Reuters recognizes them for being among the top 5 percent of all lawyers in Minnesota. They are trial lawyers practicing in personal injur y litigation, business litigation, criminal defense and appeals.

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Business Commentary

By Dean Swanson

O

Small business credit, capital and cash flow

btaining capital and managing cash flow can be daunting tasks for today’s small business owner. SCORE has an infographic that highlights the financial difficulties and opportunities for small businesses. I was amazed at the details of this topic and they may surprise you. Bridget Weston Pollack, vice president of marketing & communications at the SCORE Association gave a great summary of this data which is based on a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Pollack reports that “small business daily income averages just $7 per day above daily expenses. Health-care services see the greatest net income at about $21 per day. That’s far higher than the average net income at restaurants ($11 per day), professional services companies ($7 per day), repair and maintenance businesses ($6 per day), retail outlets ($4 per day), and personal service businesses ($3 per day).” Small business CEOs have a harder time obtaining bank loans than big businesses. For

10 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

companies with revenues under $5 million, only 38 percent of those attempting to secure a loan were successful. Meanwhile, 70 percent of businesses with revenues between $5 and $100 million who seek a loan are successful. Common rejection reasons from a survey of more than 200 business owners included: w 25%: Quality of earnings & cash flow w 21%: Size of company w 19%: Insufficient operating history w 18%: Insufficient credit


But did you know that small business owners are less likely to have revolving bank cards with balances more than 90 days past due? Small business owners have an average credit score of 721, according to a study by ACA International. That’s 48 points higher than the average consumer’s score of 673. So what can a small business do right now to build or maintain a strong business credit profile? I checked with Ty Kiisel, the author of “Getting a Business Loan: Financing Your Main Street Business” as well as a contributing editor for OnDeck, an online platform where millions of small businesses can obtain affordable loans with a fraction of the time and effort that it takes through traditional channels. He suggested the following: 1. Make sure your profile is accurate: The credit bureaus like Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax (the big three) are motivated to maintain accurate information—so they want

business owners to review their profiles, and correct any errors. 2. Keep your business credit and personal credit separate: The higher balances that often accompany business expenses can hurt your personal credit, and they don’t help you build a strong business credit profile. 3. Establish trade accounts with your suppliers: This is a fairly easy way to start making a positive impact on your credit profile. Thirty- or 60-day payment terms with suppliers can be an important step to build a strong business credit foundation. 4. Make sure your suppliers report your good credit behavior: If they don’t report to the bureaus, you may be building a good credit reputation with that particular vendor but aren’t doing anything to build a good credit profile. 5. Use the credit you need and stay current: Building a strong credit profile is about

demonstrating that you can use the credit you need and stay current with all your credit accounts. For a better chance at obtaining a loan for your small business, visit a small, local bank. They approve loan applications from small firms far more often! Want to improve your chances of finding financing for your small business? You may want to visit www.score.org and check the “articles” section or download a free Financial Management Workbook for guidance on every aspect of small business finances. Then meet with a SCORE mentor to discuss your finances and small business goals.

Dean L. Swanson, Southeast Minnesota SCORE, is a volunteer SCORE mentor and regional vice president.

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John Bulcock spends much of his time on the Minnesota State University campus where he works with fraternities and sororities, but is involved with other leaders in the community.

12 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business


Career and community Blending careers with charitable work By Tim Krohn | Photos by Pat Christman and Jackson Forderer

S

cott Michaletz started in his dad Jerry’s insurance business decades ago, eventually took over the business and continues to grow Kato Insurance. He tracks his success to learning from his dad’s work ethic and especially his philosophy. “A saying my father had was ‘if people like you they’ll talk to you and if they trust you they’ll do business with you.’ ” That very true. Michaletz is a proven local business leader but he’s all a community leader, involved in several organizations with a particular interest in the Hospice Family Fundraiser. That focus came from a painful time when his younger brother Cass died of cancer in 1993. In the past 23 years he’s chaired the hospice fundraiser, raising millions of dollars. “With hospice, all of us, or most of us, will be touched by it at some point.” John Bulcock and Chris Harstad haven’t been at it as long, but like Michaletz they hold the view that financial and career success is interwoven with civic duty. Bulcock is assistant director of student activities for Greek life & Off-Campus Housing at Minnesota State University. He arrived in Mankato 10 years ago after working at universities in other states and gaining his Master’s degree. He said one of the most valuable experiences he had after coming to Mankato was going through the Greater Mankato Growth Leadership Institute where he could network with other community leaders and learn more about the city. While his work with fraternities and sororities involves a lot of helping students develop their leadership skills and community involvement, he said it’s important to build your own skills.

“I like to work on my growth and improvement. I focus on other people’s growth so it’s good to focus on mine sometimes, too.” Harstad, who works at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, is involved in the GMG Young Professionals group, which he said has exposed him to many business leaders in the community who do a lot of charitable work. “They are giving their time and talents. You have people who you know are extremely busy and then they’re on all these other boards and groups. I’m humbled by all the time and expertise our leaders give to the community,” he said. “There are a lot of people really passionate about our community. We have a really solid, caring group of people in Mankato.” Harstad has been active in raising awareness and money for cancer through the Grow MANkato effort, which focuses on men’s health. He became involved after his own battle with testicular cancer. All three men were given awards at last month’s GMG Business Awards & Hall of Fame event for their service to the community.

Cover Story

A family business

Michaeltz’s dad came to Mankato in 1960 and started a life insurance business. “He walked up and down the street and introduced himself to every business.” He was also deeply involved in the community including Sertoma, Jaycees and he helped form Valley National Bank with the Coughlan family. He grew the Michaletz Agency where Scott got his start, along with other family members. In 1982 Scott got his license and the next year the Michaletz Agency bought Kato Insurance, expanding the types of

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 13


Scott Michaletz has grown his family owned Kato Insurance business and stayed active in the community, including raising funds for hospice for the past 23 years. insurance offered to property and casualty. “We’re an independent agency licensed in 18 states. We’re a little unique in Mankato. We have 15 employees, specialists in home and auto but also a lot of business insurance and employee benefits, group dental and other things for businesses.” In April of this year Kato Insurance bought the Willard & Williams agency, which has a long history in Mankato. Willard’s employees joined Kato Insurance. He said he’s proud of how many individuals and businesses his agency has helped to rebuild after losses. “We’ve helped businesses rebuild after fires, we provide protection and insurance and that’s a good feeling.” And he said the agency likes to counter the perception that insurance

Michaletz said he’s proud of how many individuals and businesses his agency has helped to rebuild after losses.

14 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

firms try not to pay out full claims. “We like to pay claims. Being independent we monitor all of the companies we work with each year and if we feel they’re not paying claims the way they should be we’ll find someone else,” Michaletz said. “The last sentence of our mission statement says ‘we do business honestly and ethically and always what’s best for our customers.’ ” He has two sons working in the business who will take over the agency when he retires. Kato Insurance recently moved into the new Profinium building, a spot that Michaletz said fits them well. “We moved to Profinium because Tim Lidstrom, Blethen Gage, Abdo were all there – we know all of those family owned businesses and they’re friends and


“It’s fabulous for connecting people with the community. Especially for someone like me who’s a transplant. I’m very confined to campus so being able to work with other people and movers and shakers in town is important,” Bulcok said clients.” Michaletz has chaired the Hospice Family Fundraiser for 23 years and has raised more than $2 million dollars. He also serves on the Mayo System Foundation Board. He said that before his brother died of cancer hospice helped greatly, including bringing in a special mattress to prevent bed sores. When his brother died hospice volunteers quickly came to collect the mattress, saying they were in high demand. “I asked how much the mattress cost and they said $10,000. So we started raising money.” Michaletz was joined in the effort by family friends Kent and Jane Schwickert, who’d also had a family member who’d benefited from hospice. “That first year we raised $10,000 and bought (hospice) a mattress.” After that first year, money from the annual fundraiser is given to hospice so they can purchase what they need so their 200 volunteers can better help the hundreds of families they serve.

Campus and community

Bulcock said being an advisor to the fraternities and sororities connected to MSU allows him to work with and develop leaders. “It’s a small part of the campus but a very active and influential part of campus. They’re each like running a business. I help them become engaged with the campus and the larger community.” He said those involved in fraternities and sororities graduate at a much higher rate than the general student population and gain leadership and charitable experience that helps them after they graduate. And he said those students stay tightly connected to the university after they leave. “When it comes to alumni at any university fraternity and sorority members tend to have more of an affinity to their campus. They spend their time and money helping the university,” Bulcock said. Bulcock said that working at the university can somewhat isolate him from the larger community. He said his time in the GMG Leadership Institute helped bridge that gap for him.

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MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 15


“It’s fabulous for connecting people with the community. Especially for someone like me who’s a transplant. I’m very confined to campus so being able to work with other people and movers and shakers in town is important.” He continues to serve on the Institute committee helping get members. They usually have 4045 in each group that goes through the Institute each year. He said he meets many people with a strong community mindedness here. “I come from a

very large city where you blend in and can feel what you do won’t make much of a difference. Here you see the people who genuinely want to be invested in the community, whether it’s big or small. When I get involved in something I can actually make a dent and make a difference and that’s really motivating to me.”

A new perspective

Harstad grew up in Mankato and went to Bethany Lutheran College.

“Cancer changes your life perspective. You go through cancer and live in some other countries and you are very appreciative of the great blessings we have in the United States and the

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Chris Harstad, of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Is invovled in the GMG Young Professionals and turned his own battle with cancer into an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. While he’s built success in business, he started out on a different path, teaching English in South Korea and Japan for a few years after college. He returned to Mankato, thinking of getting a Master’s in business. “But I decided to get some experience.” He worked is sales for Fine Impressions, a Taylor company, for about eight years, then went to PresenceMaker and then to Wells Fargo. Harstad said his sales experience helped him grow but he enjoys his current role. “In the mortgage world it’s still very much a sales role but it’s more of a consultative role. I like to help people through the whole process.” He said he gained a lot of connections and insight through his involvement in the GMG Young Professionals group, which includes nearly 200 members who are under age 40. “First and foremost it’s a networking event. You get connected with other young professional people. We have two events a month. One a learning and one a

social event. Then there are other volunteer opportunities throughout the year, like the Kiwanis Holiday Lights,” Harstad said. Harstad was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2007, had surgery and had the cancer return about a year later. After chemotherapy he was cancer free and remains so. A few years ago he connected Jonathan Zierdt, head of GMG, who also battled cancer and the two started the Grow MANkato annual fundraiser and awareness campaign, which includes men growing beards or mustaches to raise money with a grand finale shaving event. “Cancer changes your life perspective. You go through cancer and live in some other countries and you are very appreciative of the great blessings we have in the United States and the blessing of my family and friends,” he said. “I don’t sweat the small things. I try not to complain too much. I just feel very blessed.” MV

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 17


Joe Meidl, owner and president of Music Mart. Music Mart first opened in Mankato in 1991. The store sells instruments and sheet music, repairs instruments and gives music lessons.

Music man Meidl supplies instruments to area schools By Dan Greenwood Photos by Jackson Forderer

T

raditionally, if you had a child that wanted to play in the school band or orchestra, the go-to place would be the local music store. Nowadays, small-town music stores are farther and fewer between. That’s where Joe Meidl saw an opportunity. Meidl has been running Music Mart in Mankato since 1991. Unlike other music stores, his focus is providing band and orchestra instruments and accessories to school districts. He learned the trade from his father who opened the family music store in Lamberton in 1970. Meidl worked at his father’s store in high school and left to go to college with the plan of becoming an electrical engineer. His father convinced him to continue on with the family business

under one condition, Meidl wanted to live and work in a larger city. That city was Mankato. “My father was very handy and could fix anything he could touch,” Meidl explained. “I can’t do that, but I crunch numbers better than him so I brought some technology and computer spread sheets. He taught me a lot of the practical repair stuff and a work ethic.” Meidl says his father’s strong work ethic helped him in those early years. “When I first opened the Mankato store we’d have some kind of event down here,” Meidl said. “I’d be down at the store by 8 o’clock and my dad would beat me here from Lamberton.”

Cover Spotlight

18 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business


Building relationships

Since opening the Mankato location, he bought Eastman Music in Faribault and converted it into a Music Mart last year. He and his staff travel every week to visit some of the hundred schools they supply across the region, selling, renting and repairing instruments, with Mankato serving as the regional hub. Many of Meidl’s customers have known him for years. He says his father also played a large role in teaching customer service and building strong relationships with area band directors. He talks about working with music teachers today who he sold instruments to in grade school through college. “There are some directors I’ve known since 1992,” Meidl said. He’s known Mankato West High School director Brady Krusemark since he was a kid. “I worked with his parents selling him a trumpet when he was in high school,” Meidl said. The same goes for Craig Kopetzki, the band director at Mankato East who he’s known since high school, playing in local bands with his sister. Meidl says the relationship with Mankato Public Schools began by selling recorders to 4th and 5th graders and then moving on to the middle and high school levels with band and orchestra instruments. He says renting those instruments is what has built his business throughout southern Minnesota, along with attending state and national conferences that attract band and orchestra directors from the area. “It’s a relationship business rather than just the impulse of a quick buy,” Meidl said. “If you have the right price and supply you get their business.” And that’s because of the dwindling prevalence of small town music stores, although music stores continue to do well in larger college towns like Mankato where there is enough of an interest for more of them to succeed. Scheitel’s and Rhapsody do well selling electronics, keyboards, guitars and drums, while Music Mart focuses solely on the band and orchestra

Dan Robinson uses a leak light to check for leaks in a saxophone at Music Mart. Music Mart fixes and sells instruments, as well as having music lessons.

Christina Harman gives a music lesson to Jacob Jackowell, 7, at Music Mart. Harman said she has been teaching music for 10 years. instruments. Smaller towns are not so lucky to have those options. “There are small stores around, (but) they don’t have the networking or available instruments. The volume that you have to do to keep up with them (the schools), it’s a faster paced game. A lot of them are families that don’t use computer systems. The internet is changing things.” With a rent-to-own market covering so many different instruments, Meidl says you have to have a great deal of capital to begin with to see a profit. “In the long run I’ll make money. In the short run it’s going to cost me a ton. That’s another reason the industry is a little

harder to get into, it will take you that long to pay off the big pool of instruments.” But Meidl says this industry will only grow with the changes. “The trend lately is I don’t know where all the kids are coming from. We’re renting a lot of instruments, more than I ever have. Mankato’s population is growing and they are supporting music education, which is good.” MV

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 19


Emily Dinsmore Green, left, and Kim Ruby with daughter Wren inside their ARTifact building.

ARTifact

Paint your own pottery studio opening

O

By Amanda Dyslin | Photos by Jackson Forderer

riginally from southern California, Kim Ruby used to take her kids to paint ceramics and do other art projects at art studios, which were commonplace in the Huntington Beach area. More than a decade ago when she moved to Mankato to raise her family – which now includes five children, ranging in age from a few months to 20 years old – she was surprised there weren’t similar art spaces here. “Where we were from, pottery shops were everywhere,” Ruby said. Cut to several years ago when Ruby met Emily Dinsmore Green. Having met through mutual friends, the two got to talking about how they’d each had a dream of owning their own shop but weren’t quite sure what kind of business they’d like to own. They each had eclectic backgrounds. Ruby had a degree in psychology, as well as business management and bookkeeping experience. Green had a degree in history with cosmetology and business experience from working at her husband’s Daniel Dinsmore Photography business on North Riverfront Drive. “At first we thought about a funky gift shop with

homemade local artisan stuff – a place for our friends to sell their art,” said Green, a mother of two boys ages 1 and 3. “I always buy handmade cards and European baby clothes; I like finding different stuff you couldn’t find in Mankato,” Ruby added. But the financial investment in opening a retail shop was too substantial, they said. Which is when Ruby’s So-Cal pottery shop memories came flooding to the surface. “They were such fun, easy to go to places for people to bring their kids to do something fun,” Ruby said. As Ruby and Green talked about what a paint-yourown pottery studio would look like, their ideas exploded and ARTifact (a name they had already settled on when thinking about their retail shop) was born. With the help of Kayla Rossiter at the Small Business Development Center, the women formed an LLC and developed a business plan. After years of planning, ARTifact is set to open its doors at 321 N. Riverfront Drive this. Some people might recognize the address as being that of Daniel Dinsmore Photography, which it was.

Profile

20 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business


People paint and decorate their ceramic ware and leave it to be glazed and fired in a kiln before picking it up Green’s husband is definitely not cooled. Eventually the women would going out of business, she said. The two have all kinds of plans like to extend the business to They took over the old St. Peter for special events. include handmade wares by local Armor y and started a new For birthday parties, they’ll artists, like they originally venture, a wedding and event have a long table in a back room discussed. But there will be plenty space called The Capitol Room. and a special birthday section for of time for growth, they said. Dinsmore decided to take kids to choose their piece, which For now, they’re excited to open advantage of the space and could be piggy banks, animal their doors and let Mankato-area operate his photography business shapes or little boxes with lids, for folks get to painting. They’re also from there. examples. excited to have a business they That left the building they own For adults, they’re planning can call their own, where their on North Riverfront open to Ruby after-hours parties with wine, or kids are welcome and where they and Green. The space already date-night specials for couples. can rely on each other as moms, had elegant design details, such They’ve already heard from friends and now colleagues. as refurbished tin tiles, hardwood businesses wanting to do staff Ruby’s youngest daughter, floors and an exposed brick wall. retreats. Wren, will be their “mascot.” They just had to have a half wall They’d also like to collaborate “Some people have a shop dog; removed to allow in as much light with local businesses. Maybe a other people have a shop baby,” as possible, add a sink to the front mug from ARTifact could be used Green said. MV room, and paint some of the walls at a local coffee shop for a a bright white. discount, for example. They also had to get down to the fun business of ordering supplies, including lots of paint ARTifact, and pre-fired bisqueware in a a paint your own variety of shapes and sizes (think pottery studio, unpainted ceramics). is located at The idea, they said, is for people 321 N. Riverfront Dr. to come in, choose a piece to paint For hours, specials (priced at $15 and up), choose and event info, visit any stencils or stickers to make ARTifactMankato.com. the piece extra special, and then Call 507-351-3111 sit down and get artistic. After or email info@ three coats of paint are applied, artifactmankato.com the piece gets left with Ruby and for more information. Green to dip in glaze and fire in the kiln. The pieces get picked up The building formerly house the photography business of later when they’re finished and Dinsome Green’s husband.

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 21


Paige Durenberger worked on the location’s design with a Minnesotabased contractor that specializes in veterinary clinics.

Caring for pets and their owners Clinic has new location, same mission By James Figy Photos by James Figy

The new clinic tripled the clinic’s square footage and doubled the number of exam rooms.

A

ll veterinary clinics treat animals, but for the staff of River Hills Pet Care Hospital, that’s not enough. “The culture at River Hills also focuses on people and the bond between animals and people,” veterinarian Holly Lillegaard said. For a long time, though, owner and veterinarian Marty Mohr and the staff knew something big needed to change about the practice, something that would improve the quality of service for both pets and people: The needed a bigger building. After three

22 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

years of planning, the veterinary clinic opened its new facility on St. Andrews Dr. on October 10. River Hills had been at its previous location, the Adams St. building where Pet Expo is located, since 1996, practice manager Paige Durenberger said. When it opened, the clinic had one fulltime doctor and two staff members. The clinic now has 15 staff members — some veterinary technicians, some administrative help — and five doctors who treat a range of domestic and exotic companion animals.

Feature


Holly Lillegaard gives one of her feline patients a check-up in the cat-only exam room. They plan to hire a sixth veterinarian for the new clinic. The new building features an efficient, flowing floor plan, but most importantly, it offers more room, Durenberger said. The extra space has allowed the clinic to increase appointments and surgeries, as well as add ultrasound, endoscope and other diagnostic equipment. Designing a building that would provide all of this and look nice was no small task. So River Hills worked with TerWisscha Construction, a national company based in Willmar that specializes in veterinary practices. “We chose an interior design that would be appealing to clients, but would also evoke a sense of calm in our patients,”

Durenberger said. “We understand that bringing your pet here can cause anxiety, and we wanted to alleviate that feeling as much as possible.” The new clinic is designed to calm down the pets, too. Cats and dogs have designated waiting areas and separate, soundproof exam rooms. There are two more exam rooms than at the previous location, and the cat rooms use anxiety-reducing feline pheromone therapy while the dog rooms feature a unique layout to improve communication and space usage, according to Lillegaard. “The building also boasts a significant increase in natural lighting and a comfort room that provides families saying goodbye

more privacy and a separate exit for departure,” she said. Lillegaard, who joined River Hills in 2015, has always had a heart for animals. Growing up, she volunteered at local veterinary clinics and for the Humane Society. However, she never thought she’d become a vet during those years, and it still wasn’t on her radar as her interest in science and medicine grew at North Dakota State University. “What seemed like an obvious decision to become a veterinarian was not even considered until my second year of college,” she said. “It was as if a light bulb turned on and I knew my calling.” While preparing for veterinary school at the University of Minnesota, Lillegaard read British author and veterinarian James Her riot’s semiautobiographical book series. Through the books, she expected to work long, hard hours while treating injured and ill animals. But she didn’t expect the challenges and joys she’d encounter daily while interacting with pet owners. “I have met so many wonderful people and animals through my work. When you get to know people and their pets, it is very rewarding to be able to share in their victories and celebrations,” Lillegaard said. “On the flip side, when you get to know their pets, they become like your own, and you share in that loss and sadness. “It is both an enriching and humbling part of the job.” As the practice grows at its new location, the doctors and staff plan to maintain their focus on the bonds between pets and people, assuring clients that their animals’ needs remain the No. 1 priority, Durenberger said. During the move, for example, the clinic closed for only one business day and remained staffed for any pet care emergencies. Although moving was hectic, the River Hills veterinarians and staff have been thrilled to see the same animals and owners in the brand new space. “We are so excited to share this amazing new facility with our loyal clients,” Durenberger said. “This is definitely a dream come true!”

MV

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 23


Business and Industry Trends

Energy More U.S. distillates being exported

U.S. distillate exports have continued to increase in 2017, both in volume and as a share of total distillate production. Domestic distillate demand has remained relatively stable, increasing slightly from January through July 2017. Distillate exports from the United States reached a record high in July 2017 of 1.7 million barrels per day.

In August, exports of distillate fell to 1.4 million b/d when Hurricane Harvey resulted in port closures. Based on data through August, distillate exports have accounted for 28 percent of the total distillate produced in the United States in 2017. U.S. distillate exports in 2017 have been destined primarily for countries in Central and South America, Europe, and North America. The proximity of U.S. Gulf Coast refineries to Mexico and to Central and South America, combined with these regions’ high demand and recent refinery shutdowns, have led to strong U.S. distillate exports to these locations. In addition to increased export demand, the difference between distillate prices and crude oil prices encouraged relatively high refinery runs. The largest single recipient of U.S. distillate exports from January through July 2017 was Mexico, followed by Brazil and the Netherlands.

Winter heating outlook

The federal government forecasts that average household expenditures for all major home heating fuels will rise this winter because of expected colder weather and higher energy costs.

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24 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business


Average increases vary by fuel, with natural gas expenditures forecast to rise by 12 percent, home heating oil by 17 percent, electricity by 8 percent, and propane by 18 percent. Most of the increase reflects expected colder weather rather than higher energy costs. A warmerthan-forecast winter would see lower increases in expenditures, and a colder-than-forecast winter would see higher increases in expenditures. Temperatures this winter, based on the most recent forecast of heating degree days from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are expected to be colder than last winter across the country. However, last winter was significantly warmer than normal.

More natural gas

U.S. dry natural gas production is forecast to average 73.6 billion cubic feet per day in 2017, a 0.8 billion cubic foot increase from the 2016 level. Natural gas production in 2018 is forecast to be 4.9 Bcf/d higher than the 2017 level.

Less gas for electricity

EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas to fall from 34 percent in 2016 to about 31 percent in 2017 as a result of higher natural gas prices and increased electricity generation from renewables and coal. In 2018, natural gas’s generation share is expected to rise to 32 percent. Coal’s forecast generation share rises from 30 percent last year to 31 percent in 2017 and is expected to stay at that level in 2018.

Coal production up

U.S. coal production for the first nine months of 2017 was 12 percent higher than in the same period in 2016. Coal production is expected to increase by 8 percent in 2017 and by less than 1 percent in 2018.

Wind power grows

U.S. wind electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 82 gigawatts. Wind capacity additions should bring total wind capacity to 88 GW by the end of 2017 and to 96 GW by the end of 2018.

Solar capacity up

Total U.S. utility-scale solar electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 22 GW. Solar capacity additions should bring total utility-scale solar capacity to 27 GW by the end of 2017 and to more than 30 GW by the end of 2018. Generation from small-scale solar (installations less than 1 megawatt) is expected to increase by 28 percent in 2017 and by 23 percent in 2018.

CO2 to grow in ’18

After declining by 1.7 percent in 2016, U.S. energyrelated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to decrease by 0.6 percent in 2017 and then to increase by 2.2 percent in 2018. Energy-related CO2 emissions are affected by changes in weather, economic growth, and energy prices.

Retail/Consumer Spending Vehicle Sales Mankato — Number of vehicles sold - 2016 - 2017

1500

1,162 1,110

1200 900 600 300 0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato

Sales tax collections Mankato (In thousands)

- 2016 - 2017

600

Includes restaurants, bars, telecommunications and general merchandise store sales. Excludes most clothing, grocery store sales.

$450

500

$491

400 300 200 100 0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: Sales tax figures, City of Mankato

Lodging tax collections Mankato/North Mankato - 2016 - 2017 70000

$61,821

$59,262

52500 35000 17500 0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Source: City of Mankato

Mankato food and beverage tax - 2016 - 2017 175000 140000

$74,800

105000

$66,525

70000 35000 0

J

F

M

Source: City of Mankato

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

C. Sankey

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 25


Agricultural Outlook

By Kent Thiesse

Difficult times for negotiating fair land rental rates

O

nce harvest is completed in any given year, farm operators and non-farm landowners begin the tenuous task of negotiating annual land rental rates for the following crop year. Approximately 65-70 percent of the crop land in South Central Minnesota is under a land rental agreement and most rental agreements are negotiated on an annual basis. There are some two or three-year leases in existence, which are more common in rental agreements among family members. In past decades, many land rental arrangements have been between farm operators and landlords that usually have known each other quite well; however, that has changed considerably in recent years. More and more land ownership has been transferred to family members or family trusts that are located outside of the local area where the land is located. Some land owners are also hiring the services of a land management company to represent them in land rental negotiations, which again may be located away from the location of the land parcels that are being rented. Many times, the farm operator has not had much of a previous working relationship with the newer landlords or those representing land owners, or the landlords may have very limited knowledge of today’s farm economy or modern farming practices. This can lead to increased communication challenges when negotiating annual land rental rates, especially during more difficult economic times in crop farming, such as we have been experiencing in the past two or three years.

Var ying yields

Crop producers in south central Minnesota realized mixed crop production results in 2017. Some producers reported good-to-excellent corn and soybean yields, while producers in other areas had yields that were closer to average. Some farm operators in the region have had two years in a row (2016 and 2017) of corn yields that were 10-20 percent above their 10-year crop insurance actual production history (APH) yields. This is leading some farm operators to be overly optimistic about crop yields and income expectations for 2018. These above average crop yields is also resulting in some landlords being unwilling to reduce high cash rental rates for the 2018 crop year. However, it is not advisable to use these high yield levels as a planning tool for 2018, but is better advice to use the updated 10-year crop insurance APH yields, or other verifiable historical yield data, to make yield projections when determining realistic land rental rates.

26 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

Another factor affecting land rental rates is that farm operators in some portions of the region, who are enrolled in the Ag Risk Coverage (ARC-CO) farm program option, received an ARC-CO payment on their 2016 corn crop. However, payment amounts were highly variable, ranging from zero to $70 per corn base acre in South Central Minnesota. Producers in some counties, such as Nicollet County, have not received an ARC-CO payment for either the 2016 or 2015 crop year. It is important to remember that the ARC-CO farm program payments that farm operators received in October, 2017, were for yield losses and price reductions from the 2016 corn crop, and were not for the 2017 crop year. The farm program payments in the current Farm Bill are not guaranteed from year-to-year, as they were for nearly two decades prior to the current farm program. Based on the likelihood of average-to-above average corn and soybean yield levels in most counties in the region for 2017, together with lower “benchmark” corn and soybean prices for the 2017 crop year, the likelihood of receiving significant ARC-CO payments for the 2017 crop year will be less in most counties, compared to previous years. Any 2017 ARC-CO payments will not be made until October, 2018. Cash corn prices have remained fairly low for nearly two years in 2016 and 2017, and are not currently showing any signs of significant improvement in the near future. Soybean prices did have a brief rally in early 2017, but declined by nearly a $1.00 per bushel by harvest time. The projected forward prices for the fall of 2018 are only slightly higher than current price levels, and there is some concern that prices could drop even lower next year. Cash corn prices in Southern Minnesota have been near $3 per bushel in recent months, and cash soybean prices have been close to $9 per bushel. Many of the current cash rental rates that are at higher levels were established when projected prices were closer $4 per bushel for corn, and $10 per bushel for soybeans. The tight cash flow margins in crop production in the past couple of years, and again for the 2018 crop year, is causing some concern for farm operators, as they negotiate land rental rates for the coming year. The very tight, or even negative profit margins for next year’s crop, is also a concern for ag lenders, as they begin to re-finance crop producers for the 2018 crop year. Some farm operators will need to do some serious evaluation before agreeing to pay very high land rental rates for 2018, which could potentially lead to some large financial losses for their farm operation.


Landlords in some areas have been reluctant to lower land rental rates due to the potential for higher commodity prices, the good to excellent crop yields in past couple of years, and continued strong demand for rented crop land. In addition, real estate taxes on farm land in some areas have been quite high in recent years, causing landlords to maintain higher land rental rates. However, as crop economics have declined in the past 3-4 years, farm operators have found it more difficult to achieve breakeven levels from crop production. This has started temper the strong demand for rented land at higher land rental rates. Serious and honest negotiation between farm operators and landlords will be required to arrive at equitable rental rates for 2018 and beyond.

Flexible agreements

An alternative for farm operators and landlords to consider may be to enter into a “flexible cash rent agreement”, which sets a reasonable “base rental rate” that is based on average crop yields, typical production costs, and projected market prices for the crop year. A “flexible lease” contains provisions to increase the final annual rental rate in the event of exceptional crop yields and/or higher than anticipated crop prices. These final cash 8rent adjustments should be based on actual crop yields and/or crop market prices in the Fall of the crop year, 6with any rental rate adjustments occurring on the final land rental payment for the year. If the “base rental rate” 4is set higher than realistic breakeven levels for the farm operator, the flexible lease will not be very effective to address the added financial risk. To receive a free copy 2 of a revised Information Sheet titled: “Flexible Lease Agreements for 2018”, and other land rental information, 0 J FThiesse M Aat :Mkent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com J J A S O N D contact Kent The University of Minnesota Extension Service puts out an updated summary of “Cropland Rental Rates for Minnesota Counties” each year. The annual summary is comprised of cash rental rates paid by farm operators in 8 the previous years, based on actual farm business 100 management (FBM) records from across Minnesota. The 6 most 85 recent summary released in July, 2017 (shown in the table),4 lists the average FBM cash rental rates for the years70 2012-2016 for counties in South Central Minnesota, as well as the 2016 National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) 2 55 average cash rental rate for each County. Land rental rates for 2016 in most of the counties listed 40 ranged0 from J Fabout M $125 A MperJacre J toA near S $300 O NperDacre. The land 25 rental rates in the U of M Summary include both J F M between A M family J J members, A S O asN well D as rental agreements non-family members. Rental rates on agreements between family members tend to be somewhat lower than the average rental rates in a given area. The 2016 NASS Land Rental 100Summary, which is based on a survey of farm operators and land owners, showed a decline in average 85 land rental rates of about 10 percent in 2016, as compared to the 70 2014 NASS rental rates. The annual land rental data published by the U of M helps provide a good data base for historical land rental rates. 55 40 25

Agriculture/ Agribusiness Corn prices — southern Minnesota

(dollars per bushel)

— 2016 — 2017

8

20 16

6

$3.04

8

2 0

$2.89

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

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

D

S

O

4

N

D

0

J

Source: USDA

Soybean prices — southern Minnesota

(dollars per bushel)

— 2016 — 2017 8 20 100 16 6 85 $9.19 12 470 8 255 $9.07 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

Iowa-Minnesota hog prices 20 100 25 16 85 22 12 70 19 8 55 16 4 40 13 0 J F M A M J 25 10 J F M A M J J F M A M J Source: USDA

Milk prices

25 22

$61.22

19 16

$45.10 J A S O N D J A S O N D J A S O N D Minimum prices, class 1 milk Dollars per hundredweight

— 2016 — 2017 25 22

$18.56

19 16

10

$17.40 J

F

M

A

M

J

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

185 pound carcass, negotiated price, weighted average

— 2016 — 2017

13

J

12

4

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 • DECEMBER 2017 • 27

13 10

J

J


Construction/Real Estate Residential building permits Mankato

Commercial building permits Mankato

18000

12000

- 2016 - 2017 (in thousands)

- 2016 - 2017 (in thousands)

$2,517

13500

10000

$10,778

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

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

252

235

$169,750

$164,000

200

240

150

180

100

120

50

60 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

0 O

N

D

Source: Realtors Association of Southern Minnesota

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

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

- 2016 - 2017

5.5

50

5.0

9

40

4.5

3.9%

14

30

4.0

20

3.5 3.0

$2,547

6000

9000

0

$3,916

8000

3.5% J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

10

D

Source: Freddie Mac

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!

Create Your Dream Space

Commercial Condos LLC, is now building custom-made spaces for entrepreneurs, businesses services, trades industry and your personal needs, hobbyists, vehicle storage, workshops or whatever you can dream up. BUILDING FEATURES • Custom built to your specs • Parcel and Tax ID number • 960 sq ft. per unit to customize • Combine multiple units

BUILDING OPTIONS • HVAC, in-floor heat • Office space &/or bathroom • Floor drains • Vehicle hoists

For more information, call Dan Hawkes or Bill Freitag Owner/Realtor

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

AUSTIN’S AUTO

REPAIR CENTER INC.

New Building in Mankato

28 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

Owner/Developer

(507) 380-1964 (507) 317-4822


Gas Prices

5

Gas prices-Mankato

WE ARE GRATEFUL TO OUR CLIENTS AND PARTNERS FOR CHOOSING TO DO BUSINESS WITH US.

— 2016 — 2017

54 43 $2.44

32 21 10 0

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N $1.97 D

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

Gas prices-Minnesota

D

— 2016 — 2017

5 54 $2.50

43 32 21 10

$2.08

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

Oct. 9

Nov. 7

Percent change

Archer Daniels

$42.96

$39.54

-8.0%

Ameriprise

$151.56

$159.23

+5.0%

Best Buy

$57.20

$55.13

-3.6%

Crown Cork & Seal

$60.37

$59.79

-1.0%

Consolidated Comm.

$20.11

$14.34

-29.0%

Fastenal

$44.95

$48.08

+7.0%

General Growth

$21.51

$22.20

+3.2%

General Mills

$50.73

$50.97

+0.4%

Itron

$78.20

$67.00

-14.0%

Johnson Outdoors

$72.98

$70.89

-3.0%

3M

$216.98

$230.05

+6.0%

Target

$57.48

$57.89

+0.7%

U.S. Bancorp

$54.24

$53.45

-1.5%

Winland

$1.55

$1.30

-14.0%

Xcel

$47.88

$50.03

+4.5%

OUR PASSION CONTINUES TO BE INVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITY AND MAKING IT A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK.

Thank you for an amazing year PASSION. INSTINCT. DRIVE IT’S WHAT SEPARATES US FROM THE PACK.

/COMMERCIAL TO THE CORE/ CBCFISHERGROUP.COM

C. Sankey

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 29


Minnesota Business Updates

The local company, called Perbix, will remain at its site and become a Minnesota engineering outpost for Tesla, according to the Star Tribune. Perbix, which started as a maker of machining equipment 41 years ago, has quietly been working with Tesla for nearly three years on automated tools that include a system that makes the drive-unit rotors in its cars. Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk, a South African-born billionaire based in Silicon Valley, has spoken about a desire to make the company’s factories the most efficient in the auto industry.

■ States want online taxes Thirty-five state attorneys general, including Minnesota’s, and the District of Columbia signed on to support South Dakota’s legal bid to collect sales taxes from out-of-state internet retailers. South Dakota is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence. The case could have national implications for e-commerce, according to Minnesota Public Radio. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement Thursday that Colorado filed a friend-of-thecourt brief supporting South Dakota’s petition to the high court. The state is seeking to overturn legal rulings issued mostly before the online shopping boom that hamstring officials who want to collect sales taxes from out-of-state retailers. States have pushed Congress to address the issue without success, and one estimate put the loss to states at roughly $26 billion in 2015.

■ Xcel CEO to retire Xcel Energy announced that Marvin McDaniel Jr. will retire during the second quarter, 2018. McDaniel has been executive vice president, group president – Utilities, and Chief Administrative Officer for Xcel since January 2015. Over his nearly 30-year career, McDaniel has held a variety of roles, including senior vice president of Corporate Services and Chief Administrative Officer and senior positions in Human Resources, Commercial Operations and Corporate Accounting for Xcel Energy and its predecessor companies.

■ Tesla busy Minn. firm Tesla Inc., the electric vehicle maker that steered the U.S. auto industry in a new direction, is buying a small Brooklyn Park company that over the past few years built some of the advanced equipment used in Tesla factories.

Employment/Unemployment Initial unemployment claims Nine-county Mankato region Major September Industry 2016 2017 Construction Manufacturing Retail Services Total*

141 130 43 158 472

Local non-farm jobs Percent change ‘16-’17

163 136 30 130 459

Construction 122000 122000 Manufacturing Retail 111000 Services 111000 Total*

3,863 2,047 945 3,782 10,637

3,463 1,592 814 3,388 9,257

3500

122000

2100 1400

111000

700 100000

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

Minnesota Local non-farm jobs (in thousands)

Percent change ‘16-’17

8000 3500 3500 6000 2800 2800 4000 2100 2100

-10.4% -22.2% -14.0% -10.4% -13.0%

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 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

128,910 2800

+15.6% +4.6% -30% -17.7% -2.7%

Minnesota initial unemployment claims September 2016 2017

124,264

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

- 2016 - 2017

Nine-county Mankato region

2,882

A

S

O

N

D

D

N

D

0

J

- 2016 - 2017 2,982

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

Fastenal was founded in Winona on Nov. 28, 1967. “Fastenal has been built by thousands of great people working in every area of our organization,” said CEO Dan Florness in a company release. “We wanted to shine the spotlight on as many of these leaders as the stage could possibly hold.” 2014), conducted an employee lottery to fill the 65 spots on stage for this trip.

■ 3M has new combat helmet 3M Co. has introduced a new combat helmet designed to help soldiers survive an expanded number of ballistic threats during combat. It’s part of an effort to produce the next level of safety products for soldiers, according to the Star Tribune. With enhanced ceramics and special engineering, the new Combat II Ballistic Helmet L110 can help protect service members from bomb fragmentations, blunt impacts, certain rifle projectiles, handgun bullets and “small arms projectiles” such as the M80 NATO ball projectile, officials said. The upgrades offer the highest ballistic protection offerings to date from 3M, the Maplewood-based company that has supplied the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps with more than 114,000 helmets in recent years. 3M gained the technology to make its enhanced and ballistic helmets in 2012, when it paid $860 million for the California-based ceramics and auto components master Ceradyne Inc.

■ 3M sales soar

■ Fastenal rings the bell Fastenal packed the stage when it took part in Nasdaq’s Opening133000 Bell ceremony one day last month. 133000 The opening bell signals the traditional start of the trading day and Nasdaq invites its member companies to do the 122000 honors in recognition of various milestones, 122000 according to the Star Tribune. The Winona-based firm was celebrating 50 years in 111000 business and 30 years on the Nasdaq stock exchange. 111000

3500 2800 2100 1400

3M soared the most in eight years as across-the-board 133000 3500 sales growth prompted the maker of Post-it notes and touchscreen components to raise its profit forecast. 2800 The company increased revenue in all of its business 122000 units in the third quarter, led by a 13 percent jump in 2100 electronics and energy. Boosted by gains in emerging 1400 markets 111000 and a U.S. dollar turning in its favor, sales climbed in every geographic region. 700 “3M seems to be executing on pretty much everything we can measure,” Scott Davis, an analyst with Melius 100000 0 J F M A M J J A S O N D J Research, said in a note. The results underscored 3M’s rebound from sluggishness in the electronics and office-supplies markets, which had dented investors’ confidence. The St.3500 Paul, Minnesota-based company generates twothirds 8000 of its sales overseas, putting 3M in a position to 200000 gain when the dollar weakens against other currencies, 2800 as 6000 it has this year. 150000 2100 gained 6 percent to $8.17 billion. Foreign Sales currency translation increased revenue by 0.6 percent, 100000 4000 1400 3M said. 700 2000

700

100000

100000 J F

J M

Employment/Unemployment

F M A A M J

M J

J A

J S

Local number of unemployed

4000 2100 1400 2000

N

D

A O

S N

O D

8000 6000

4,101

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

150000

100,284

89,367

100000 50000 0

J

F

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

September

100000

D

0

J

0 F

J M

F M A A M J

M J

J A

2016

2017

2.9% 57,575 1,740

2.4% 58,746 1,455

J S

A O

S N

O D

N

D

Unemployment rates Counties, state, nation County/area

- 2016 - 2017

200000

D

F M A M AJ FA M

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

100000

2000 0 F F

0 0 J F JM

J

Mankato/North Mankato Metropolitan statistical area

150000

3,627

4000

700 0 J 0 J

D 0

200000

Minnesota number of unemployed

N

N

- 2016 - 2017

Nine-county Mankato region 8000 3500 6000 2800

50000

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

September 2016 September 2017 3.0% 3.5% 4.0% 3.7% 3.8% 2.7% 3.4% 2.8% 4.7% 3.5% 3.6% 4.8%

2.5% 2.6% 3.3% 3.0% 3.2% 2.1% 2.6% 2.9% 4.0% 2.9% 2.9% 4.1%

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

Minnesota initial• unemployment MN Valley Business DECEMBER 2017 claims • 31

0

J


Sponsored by the Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation

Metal investors left behind even as prices soar By Marley Jay | Associated Press

M

etals prices have surged over the last year as China’s economy rebounds and Donald Trump’s election lifts prospects in the U.S. But investors hoping to get in on those gains face a challenge: funds that target those commodities have struggled. Copper, which is used in large amounts in construction, power generation and manufacturing, has surged 48 percent in the last year. Palladium, which is used in cars’ catalytic converters and electronics, has also risen about 56 percent in 12

32 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

months. It hasn’t been this expensive since early 2001. “Copper carries the electric charge of development and growth,” quips Steve Wood, chief market strategist for Russell Investments. “The global growth story has improved measurably within the last year (to) year and a half.” But investors who’ve sought to cash in on those gains are likely disappointed. Some funds that focus on metals have risen in value this year, but they haven’t done as well as the broader stock market. Features like hedging, which protect them from price shocks, may have limited their recent gains. The Gold Bullion Strategy Advisor fund, for example, has risen about 10 percent this year, according to Morningstar. BlackRock’s Commodity Strategies Investor fund has only gained about 2 percent as its investments in oil companies haven’t panned out. Those stocks have fallen sharply this year. That’s substantially worse than either the industrial companies index of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index or the S& P 500 itself, both of which are up about 13 percent. Brian Jacobsen, a multi-asset strategist with Wells Fargo Asset Management, said investors should consider investing in industrial companies instead. “Often, the best way to invest in commodities is through the companies that produce or use the items rather than in the items themselves,” he wrote. While those companies probably won’t provide the kind of returns that copper and palladium have this year, they are also less vulnerable to sharp drops in price. Machinery maker Caterpillar, engineered products maker Arconic and engine maker Cummins have all surged this year as investors expect demand for their products to keep growing. Exchange-traded funds focused on metals, like the SDPR Gold Trust, have also done better than many mutual funds and roughly kept pace with stocks. Wood says the gains in metals prices also reflect greater optimism about the global economy and especially China. The world’s second-largest economy depends heavily on construction, industry and energy production. The rally has been especially good for emerging markets economies, he said, because they tend to rely more heavily on commodities. Meanwhile the price of gold is flat and silver has lost value over the last 12 months. Investors buy them when they are worried about turbulence in markets or inflation, and in this historically calm year for markets, there hasn’t been as much cause for worry. The prices of commodities like copper and oil plunged in late 2015 and early 2016 as investors worried about the possibility that China’s economic growth was stalling out. Those concerns could surface again, but Wood said he doesn’t expect it to happen any time soon: commodity prices tend to rise and stay high for extended periods of time before they fall again. After the 2008-09 financial crisis, U.S. crude oil stayed between about $80 and $110 a barrel for a full five years before plunging in mid-2014. It’s stabilized and stayed at around $50 for the last year-and-a-half. “Commodity cycles tend to be longer in duration, both on the upside and the downside,” he said. MV


Sponsored by the Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation

30 years after Black Monday, what could slow this bull run?

By Stan Choe Associated Press

H

ow long can this nirvana last for investors? The stock market keeps ticking methodically higher into record territory, and it’s been nearly 16 months since S& P 500 index funds had a pullback of even 5 percent over the course of days or weeks, the longest such streak in two decades. Many analysts expect the market to keep climbing, at least for the next year. But as investors learned so painfully 30 years ago, markets can shift quickly. On Oct. 19, 1987, the S& P 500 plummeted 20.5 percent to wipe out what had been sizeable gains for the year. Virtually no one is predicting a repeat of “Black Monday,” which was the stock market’s worst day in history and happened when conditions were different from today. But several worries are circulating underneath the market’s placid surface. While they may not cause a 20 percent drop in one day, they could be the spark for the market’s next drop of 5 percent or more, whenever it ends up happening. Here are a few potential stumbling blocks for a stock market that’s more than tripled since its 2009 bottom in the Great Recession, including a surge of 20 percent over the last 12 months: Stocks are expensive. Even the most optimistic analysts wouldn’t call the market cheap. Stock prices tend to follow the trend of corporate profits over the long term, but stocks have been rising more quickly than earnings recently. The S& P 500 is trading at 31 times its average earnings over the last 10 years, after adjusting for inflation. That’s the highest level since the summer of 2001. By themselves, stock prices rising faster than earnings aren’t enough to cause markets to buckle. The stock market stayed at or

above this level of price-to-earnings for years following the summer of 1997. But they’re enough to give some strategists pause. The Fed is tightening. The Federal Reserve slashed short-term interest rates to near zero in response to the 2008 financial crisis. It also bought trillions of dollars of bonds to keep rates low. Those low rates meant bonds were paying little in interest, and investors moved into stocks in search of greater returns. Now the Fed is slowly pulling back. This month it started paring back its $4.5 trillion in bond investments. And many investors expect the central bank to raise short-term interest rates at its meeting in December, which would be the third increase this year. Tax reform may fail, or the dollar may jump in value.Stocks have recently received a boost from rising expectations Washington will be able to cut tax rates. But if Washington stumbles, the disappointment could drag down stocks. If the dollar jumps in value, meanwhile, it would cut into the profits that multinationals have been making from their overseas sales. North Korea and other hotspots around the world remain big unknowns. Analysts call this “geopolitical risk,” and one of the reasons it’s so scary for investors is that it’s not possible to predict. “There are a lot of dangerous things going on,” said John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management. Besides the worsening war of words between North Korea and the United States, he listed Ukraine and Syria as other areas with the capability of drawing the world’s big powers into conflict. MV

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 33


By: John Considine III, Director of Regional Business Intelligence

I

t’s been well chronicled that our economy faces a looming workforce shortage. This is perhaps one of the most critical and daunting of economic development challenges our region will face.

Greater Mankato Growth

New strategies are being explored by Greater Mankato Growth’s Talent Council that will complement existing workforce development programs. In November, Greater Mankato Growth launched “More Mankato.” The website has been in development under the project name “Kato X.” Major employers in the community including Mayo Clinic Health System, ISG, Nidec (Kato Engineering), Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Mankato Clinic are all top-tier partners. The website can be used by businesses to showcase the community to employee recruits, inform families considering moving to OP P OR TU N ITY. L I VES. H ERE. the area, and present cool amenities to tourists. Moremankato.com includes 360° videos/photos and drone imagery to highlight community amenities.

Another tool for both the general public and area businesses is the Workforce Blog Series. There are several tools available for students to gain experience, employees to receive training and concepts for businesses to think about workforce development differently. The blog series will aggregate these tools as a library that can be viewed on greatermankatoblog.com. Instant access. No library card necessary. Workforce development experts from various organizations are serving as the guest authors of the blog series. Often times the work done in workforce development or education isn’t promoted and celebrated so the opportunities are not as well known. These experts have limited time and it’s focused on providing services and programming to students and clients. By providing an opportunity to talk about their services, GMG intends to leverage their expertise and assist in promoting the workforce development and educational programming already available in the marketplace.

Now Accepting 2018 Board Applications The Nominating Committee for Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. is currently seeking applicants (Engaged Member level or higher) to fill seats on all three boards, beginning March of 2018. Deadline for applications is 5 pm on December 29. To apply visit greatermankato.com/board-directors

34 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

BRIAN FAZ


Greater Mankato Business Awards & Hall of Fame was held Tuesday, November 14 at Verizon Center. This is a time when Greater Mankato Growth, Visit Mankato and City Center Partnership honor outstanding businesses, professionals and organizations within the Greater Mankato community. Congratulations all of this year’s award recipients.

GREATER MANKATO GROWTH AWARDS HALL OF FAME DISTINGUISHED BUSINESS BRIAN FAZIO BUSINESS EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP

Kato Insurance Agency Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery Junior Achievement of Greater Mankato; Mankato Area Public Schools; Loyola High School

HAP HALLIGAN LEADERSHIP YOUNG PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR

John Bulcock Christopher Harstad

VISIT MANKATO AWARDS BRING IT HOME HOSPITALITY

Paul Gaspar, Mankato United Soccer Club Mankato RibFest

CITY CENTER PARTNERSHIP AWARDS NEW CONSTRUCTION OVER $5,000,000 RENOVATION $500,000 - $1,000,000 RENOVATION $500,000

Block 518 (Tailwind Group) Bluebird Cakery Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Minnesota State University, Mankato)

PRESERVATION STEWARDSHIP CREATIVE PLACEMAKING CITYART “PEOPLE’S CHOICE”

“Boy in Blue” Monument “Kites” Mural (City of Mankato) Human Foosball (Greater Mankato United Way) “Maestro” by Sherri Treeby & Lee Leuning

To nominate a business, organization or professional for 2018, please go to greatermankato.com/hall-fame. Presenting Sponsor:

Event Sponsor:

Video Sponsor:

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 35

Greater Mankato Growth

DOWNTOWN DETAIL


Growth in Greater Mankato

NEW LOCATION

DEDICATION

Nails Group 1351 Madison Avenue, Mankato

Peace Lutheran Church 2090 Commerce Drive, North Mankato

RIBBON CUTTING

RIBBON CUTTING

Vivian Rose Boutique 112-142 South Riverfront Drive, Suite 132, Mankato

White Orchid 1813 Adams Street, Mankato

Cavaliers

Greater Mankato Growth

Cavalier Calls on the Newest Greater Mankato Growth Members

Pinnacle Business Solutions 1003 Carney Avenue, Mankato pinnaclesolutionspro.com

Sunstone Creative Group 11 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 111, Mankato sunstonecreative.com

Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. will be celebrating 150 years of commerce to our area business community in September 2018. We want to build an accurate account of local business history and need your help to do so. We have historical information from many resources, but we'd like you to share your first-hand historical account! Fill out the brief survey at greatermankato.com/150 Thank you to our partners:

36 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business


5:00 - 7:00 pm December 5

Watch for the 2018 schedule in December!

Courtyard by Marriott Hotel & Event Center

7:30 - 9:00 am December 20

Laurels Peak Rehabilitation Center (Previously City of Eagle Lake)

2017 Business Before Hours Sponsored by:

October Business After Hours hosted by MRCI - East Park

October Business Before Hours hosted by True Façade Pictures

Business After and Business Before Hours gives representatives from GMG 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.

• • • •

360° Videos Vibrant, high-quality photos Drone images Numerous community resources

moremankato.com Thank you to all our early adopters!

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 37

Greater Mankato Growth

Showcasing the best amenities our community has to offer!


Adventures of 2017, Happenings in 2018

By Katie Adelman, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

S

oon, we will flip over the calendar to signal the end of another year. As we reflect, here are the major highlights from the past 12 months.

2017 saw a major sporting event return to Mankato and one announce its exit. The Minnesota Senior Games came back to Mankato after a five-year hiatus. More than 20 sports and approximately 75 events were hosted in Mankato in May. Roughly 400 athletes migrated to town for the four-day event, which generated an estimated economic impact of $250,000. Additionally, a long-term agreement was reached with the Minnesota Senior Games for Mankato to be the event’s host every two years, alternating with St. Cloud, until 2026. This new event addition was a welcomed one, as after 52 seasons in Mankato, the Minnesota Vikings announced the team would begin using its new facility in Eagan in 2018. It was a great last season of Training Camp traditions in Mankato, with more than 68,000 people attending the final event.

Greater Mankato Growth

The Verizon Center expansion, which opened in September 2016, was a proven success in 2017. It hosted 20 multi-day conventions for an economic impact of $2.2 million. Gather in the GreenSeam was a new leisure event in the Greater Mankato area this fall. It is a celebration of the entire spectrum of people, organizations and businesses that make this area the most largest and most balanced agricultural region in the country. Community partners provided agrelated activities, events and/or services to engage visitors in an array of experiences, like farm tours, wine tastings and more. This new annual event was made possible in part through an Explore Minnesota

MINNESOTA SENIOR GAMES

52ND ANNUAL VIKINGS TRAINING CAMP

38 • DECEMBER 2017 • MN Valley Business

Tourism grant, which was the first of its kind to be awarded in the Mankato community. Looking ahead to 2018, more big events are on the horizon. Mankato will host the 2018 Minnesota Senior Games August 16-19. As many as 800 athletes are expected to travel to the Greater Mankato community for the nationally-qualifying event. After a successful inaugural year, Gather in the GreenSeam will expand in its second year, so stay tuned for those details! Visit Mankato looks forward to promoting Greater Mankato hotels, attractions and restaurants with its new winter packages, which will be promoted with the start of Kiwanis Holiday Lights and continue through January 2018. Next year, 26 multi-day events, along with the largest conventions to date and some of the most prestigious groups in Minnesota, will host conferences and conventions in Mankato: • • • • •

Transportation Alliance (February, 1,000 people) Explore Minnesota Tourism (March, 350 people) Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (July, 80 people) Minnesota Women of Today (June, 100 people) Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths (October, 1,000 people)

For all visitor information, go to visitmankatomn.com. To learn more about conventions, visit meetinmankato.com. For full details about sports, check out mktosports.com. As we close out the year, Visit Mankato would like to thank the Greater Mankato community partners and residents for the outstanding support. We look forward to another great year in 2018!

VERIZON CENTER EXPANSION

GATHER IN THE GREENSEAM


10.07.17

O

n a beautiful fall afternoon, thousands of fans enjoyed Hockey Night in the City Center. This annual celebration of Maverick hockey filled Civic Center Plaza with music by The Porchlights, refreshments, games and family-friendly fun. Hockey Night 2017 was presented by Snell Motors and sponsored by EI Microcircuits, MedExpress Urgent Care and Hot 96.7. To find out how you can support Hockey Night in 2018, contact info@citycentermankato.com or 507.388.1062

Crowd enjoying the beautiful fall weather and entertainment in the City Center Plaza on Hockey Night.

Greater Mankato Growth

Thank you to our sponsors:

MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 39


» 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.


“Students are the ones that have been talking about it. They’re the ones that are pushing for it. The AgBiz Club formed right away; the class filled up quick, the demand is there. It is also alumni-led. Some alumni that graduated from here are now in positions in agriculture, and they’re trying to connect with the students, and also possibly hire them,” said Bowyer.

griculture. What was the first image available in the agricultural sector, that comes to mind? Crops, fields, but several of them received offers A manual labor or dirt under your nails? for interviews and internships as a Agriculture has long been a prominent industry in Southern Minnesota; however, not all are aware of the potential this region possesses. With technology advancing in the business world, the field of agriculture has morphed into agriculture business, also referred to as agribusiness. Agribusiness includes the management, marketing and production of agricultural commodities, and is just like any other industry today – one that requires standard business operational departments, from marketing and banking and finance to data science and technology.

direct result of engaging at this event. This was a reminder (to me) of how important it is that our university is so intentional about building close partnerships with businesses,” said Luke Howk, partnerships and internships coordinator.

The Southern Minnesota region is one of the top producers of soybean and corn in the world. However, as Sam Ziegler, Director of GreenSeam states “figures show that there are still around 60 thousand job openings in the agribusiness field each year, but we only have 35 thousand new U.S. graduates with the expertise.” Luckily, with the help of entities such as GreenSeam, the issue of awareness is being tackled.

Furthermore, to sustain this newlyfound interest that the students have expressed in agribusiness, the AgBiz Club formed under the leadership of Shane Bowyer, professor of management.

Minnesota State University, Mankato College of Business

“We had a little more than ten students who expressed interest (in joining the club) right away… Mankato is one of More than 100 students and industry professionals Minnesota State University, Mankato the largest soybean producing cities gathered for the AgBiz internship event in October. plays a vital role in contributing to the in the world, and it needs business needs and demands of its community graduates to run the industry. It’s just GreenSeam has one objective; and stakeholders. As such, the College like any other business, and most to promote this region and bring of Business at Minnesota State students don’t see that.” The primary awareness to the public of the Mankato has lined up some initiatives objective of this club, according to business development and economic to increase students’ awareness Bowyer, is to increase awareness of growth opportunities that could be and education of this industry and the demand and career opportunities in sought out. region. Such efforts include the AgBiz the agribusiness field. internship event, the inception of the “We want to use our strongest industry AgBiz Club, as well as AgriBusiness in Bowyer says that the strategic to fuel economic growth. We are the Modern Economy, a new business geographical location of Mankato and an agriculture-related muscle in the course commencing in 2018. Southern Minnesota is what makes U.S. We want people to look at us it one of the top exporting cities of for agriculture solutions. We want The AgBiz Business, Technology and essential crops in the U.S., and the to redefine this region as the Silicon Natural Sciences Internship Panel world. Valley of agriculture,” Ziegler said. event took place in October and was co-hosted with the College of Science Another initiative lead by Bowyer is the Today, it is the perfect time to Engineering and Technology. Based AgriBusiness in the Modern Economy capitalize on the growth this industry on numbers and several conversations course. One of the course objectives has seen and maximize it. The with the students, the event was a is to teach students how to apply initiatives taken by entities in the success. More than 100 students, business knowledge and concepts region such as Minnesota State faculty and business representatives to the agriculture industry, as well Mankato, as well as GreenSeam gathered to learn more about diverse as examining career opportunities is what will provide the platform for internships across the growing in agriculture beyond the farm. The prospects to help this region reach agricultural industry. course covers a variety of topics, from exponential economic growth and soybean crushing, corn and other prosperity. “Not only were students given the grains to banking and finance, drones, opportunity to learn more about the data and other technology. To learn more, contact Shane Bowyer ever-evolving career opportunities at shane.bowyer@mnsu.edu. MN Valley Business • DECEMBER 2017 • 41


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MN Valley Business  
MN Valley Business  

December 2017

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