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President & Chief Executive Officer
President & Chief Executive Officer of Greater Mankato Growth

Ballinger|Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for President & Chief Executive
Officer at Greater Mankato Growth, a nationally-known business growth and economic
development organization supporting the Greater Mankato region.

Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. (GMG) exists to intentionally develop the Mankato
region by promoting, supporting and serving as a catalyst for economic
development. This is done through business growth and development; talent
growth, retention and attraction; regional livability and advocacy of the marketplace.

GMG is comprised of four business units; Greater Mankato Growth, the regional
chamber of commerce and economic development organization; Visit Mankato, the
local convention and visitor's bureau; City Center Partnership, a downtown
development organization; and GreenSeam, which utilizes agriculture to build on the
region's extensive agribusiness assets to develop the ag economy.

Greater Mankato Growth is the result of a creative consolidation between Chamber

of Commerce, Economic Development organization, and convention and visitor’s
bureau. GreenSeam is a new initiative of the organization.

Since 2018, the business units have shared office space, an effort that has resulted in
efficiencies and so much more. Staff collaborate across business units to share ideas
and provide outstanding service. Greater Mankato Growth is governed by a Board of
Directors; individual business units also have focused boards of directors.


On September 11, 1868, forty-three business leaders convened The Mankato Board of
Trade, the community’s first business association. As the organization and
community evolved, the name was changed to Mankato Commercial Club in 1900 and
then to Mankato Chamber of Commerce in 1920. In 1968, the Mankato Chamber of
Commerce received national accreditation as the 120th Accredited Chamber in the

In 1984, the Convention & Visitors Bureau was established which resulted in a slight
name change to the chamber to Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce. By 1993, the
Chamber and CVB merged to form Mankato Area Chamber and Convention Bureau

The Greater Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce, and its division know as the
Greater Mankato Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (now Visit Mankato), merged in
2007 with the Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation (now Greater
Mankato Growth) to form Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. Later, City Center
Partnership and GreenSeam also became LLCs within the corporate umbrella.

Hosted over 1,600 people during two of the largest 45 Students graduate as 34th Annual
conferences to date Leadership Institute Class
1,000+ Alumni
to date
Visit Mankato purchased the full
ownership rights to the Mankato
Marathon. 3,500 participants and $1.5
million in economic impact $20k grant for
creative placemaking
through INFUSE
City Art Walking Sculpture Tour Artists on Main Street
unveiled the 8th Annual Walking Hosted Minnesota Program 11 projects/
Sculpture Tour with 27 new 11 lead artists/
Senior Games 300+ artists
sculptures participated


Greater Mankato Growth is the regional chamber

of commerce and economic development
organization serving the regional marketplace.

Greater Mankato Growth offers eight levels of

membership based on what best matches a business’ desired involvement. Currently,
there are nearly 1,000 members who connect and engage through GMG.

Members belong to Greater Mankato Growth for the purpose of creating additional
and immediate opportunities for business. Others choose to belong because it’s a
positive business affiliation and association with a respected and trusted brand in the
community. Still others belong because they believe in the mission. They know that
the work Greater Mankato Growth engages in and accomplishes simply betters the
“business ecosystem”, and that has a positive indirect impact on every business in
the region.

Greater Mankato Growth is governed by an engaged board of directors made up of

prominent leaders in the region.

Visit Mankato, LLC is the local convention and visitor’s
bureau. It leads the development of the visitor economy
in greater Mankato by actively promoting greater
Mankato as a premier destination for conventions,
tournaments and tourism.

Activities such as concerts, sporting events, arts gatherings and more bring a steady
flow of visitors and business activity to greater Mankato that benefits local residents
and future visitors. The work of Visit Mankato helps strengthen the hospitality
industry which provides jobs, a diverse tax base and amenities for everyone to enjoy.

Visit Mankato is governed by an 18-member board of governors made up of

shareholders representing the tourism industry and the marketplace.

Visit Mankato

City Center Partnership, LLC is a downtown development
organization. The City Center includes the downtown core of
Mankato and North Mankato.

The mission of City Center Mankato, as a private/public partnership, is

to be a catalyst for implementation of the City Center Renaissance Plan
and to support private and public investment in City Center projects,
programs and initiatives that attract a greater number of customers,
employees and residents to the City Center.

City Center Mankato holds a vision of a vibrant City Center in Mankato/North

Mankato that exemplifies the vitality of the region and attracts visitors, residents,
businesses and investment.

As promoters, recruiters and advocates for City Center Mankato, the City Center
Partnership works in conjunction with its businesses and citizens to find
opportunities and solutions to keep the City Center vibrant and prosperous. These
include focusing on increasing business and employees, trade and traffic, residents
and housing options, multi-modal connectivity, aesthetics, arts, culture and more!

In 2017, City Center Mankato became the eighth designated Main Street Community
in Minnesota, joining Faribault, New Ulm, Owatonna, Red Wing, Shakopee, Willmar
and Winona in gaining the designation. The Minnesota Main Street program, part of
the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, provides Main Street communities with
training, tools, information and networking to invigorate their commercial districts.

City Center Partnership

GreenSeam, LLC builds on the region’s
extensive agribusiness assets to
develop the ag economy. Greater Mankato
Growth, Inc., along with hundreds of businesses and professionals rooted in
agriculture from across the region have been working since 2013 to strategically build
on and connect the region’s extensive agricultural business assets in order to
develop and position this region to be known nationally and internationally as the
place for talent, business, innovation and education in relation to agriculture.

Agriculture is currently the largest business industry segment within this region with
more than $15.3 billion in sales annually. A majority of businesses in the region are
either part of agriculture’s value stream or indirectly impacted through production,
processing, manufacturing, professional services, research, technology, education,
transportation, etc. The region boasts nearly 1,000 ag related businesses.


Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. exists to support and promote the economic growth and
vitality of our members and the regional marketplace.

Greater Mankato Growth believes that the needs of members are best met by growing
the regional marketplace. To that end, the organization espouses the following values:

Catalysts – Initiating action for economic growth beneficial to members and congruent
with the regional desire and culture.
Stewards – Using resources efficiently and effectively and wisely leveraging strengths.
Collaborative & Inclusive – Cultivating and sustaining relationships, while encouraging
the mobilization of the marketplace assets to enhance growth.
Approachable – Being visible and accessible and creating a friendly, vibrant and
respectful environment.
Innovative – Embracing change and promoting progressive solutions.
Ethical – Communicating openly and honestly and taking responsibility for actions in
all business practices.

Team members within the Greater Mankato Growth family are professional and
committed. They describe the organization’s culture as:
• Service oriented and focused on the community
• Forward thinking; creative; open to change and improvement
• Energized and future-oriented
• Collaborative and easy going, with good work-life balance
• A changing culture, still integrating together; getting used to working more
collaboratively; getting used to “working under one roof”


President & Chief Executive Officer of

Greater Mankato Growth

The President & CEO of the Greater Mankato Growth is the chief executive officer of
the organization which is comprised of four business units, as well as the Greater
Mankato Growth Foundation. This is a prominent position with high impact and
visibility throughout the region.

The President & CEO supervises a full-time staff of 22 across four business units in the
day to day functions of the organization. This role interacts frequently with Greater
Mankato Growth members, elected officials, peer organizations, media and the
general business community.

This position is open due to the retirement and untimely passing of Jonathan Zierdt,
the original President & CEO of Greater Mankato Growth. Long time board member
and community leader Bob Hoffman is acting as Interim President & CEO.

Essential Responsibilities:
Executive Leadership
• Lead, coach, mentor and develop the staff. Lead with optimism and grace;
continue Greater Mankato Growth’s positive organizational culture.
• Drive the strategic planning process of the organization with an eye toward
creative and innovative planning and thoughtful execution of goals.
• Develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors; plan and execute
regular meetings, partner with board members to achieve the organization’s
• Oversee the budget, finances, financial reporting and audits to ensure financial
integrity and continued financial health.
• Identify new and innovative sources of funding for the organization.
• Assure proper staffing and organizational structure to meet the needs of the
organization’s mission.

Member and External Relations
• Proactively build and retain members at GMG.
• Encourage participation by board and key business leaders at various events.
• Maintain and enhance the organization’s relevance in the community, with
members and with regional leaders.
• Present to large and small groups on behalf of Greater Mankato Growth.
Represent GMG at ribbon cuttings, open houses, special invited events, fund
raisers and other events as a highly visible ambassador.
• Find new and creative ways to keep GMG vital and influential in the business, civic,
agribusiness, non-profit and political landscape.

Policy and Advocacy

• Work with board and other key stakeholders to develop the organization’s
political objectives and key public policy positions
• Meet regularly with appropriate levels of government officials to build
relationships and shape / influence Mankato / North Mankato policy. Focus on the
partnerships with local government leaders to benefit business interests in
Mankato / North Mankato.
• When required, act as policy representative, calling on Mayors, City Council
Members, State representatives and key thought leaders as needed to further the
Greater Mankato Growth agenda.

Operations and Program Management

• Participate in member and community activities, including economic development
initiatives, member events, and tourism and visitor happenings. With staff,
evaluate and assess organizational programs.
• Introduce new programs and initiatives to meet member and regional needs.
• Oversee and guide special projects that Greater Mankato Growth conducts on behalf
of partner organizations and for the good of the Mankato region.

Management Responsibilities
The President & CEO oversees the staff and activities at all four business units of
Greater Mankato Growth. A total of 22 professional staff and (and many volunteers!)
work in the organization. The leadership team reporting directly to the President &
Chief Executive Officer is made up of business unit and functional leaders.


The ideal candidate for President & CEO will possess a Bachelor’s Degree or other
credentials in business administration, public policy or other related subject.

He or she will have organizational leadership experience in diverse sectors that might
include small business, entrepreneurial organizations, non-profit organizations and/or
Fortune 500 firms. The ideal experience will include a combination of corporate and
nonprofit activities, showing fluency with business, government, philanthropic and
nonprofit sectors. Experience working with and for a board of directors is valuable.

The President & CEO will bring a broad understanding of the local, regional and state
business and economic environment and the impact of constituent involvement and
public policy on business and economy. He or she will have personal interest, passion
and/or experience in community, regional civic engagement and economic

Demonstrated financial acumen and a proven record of success in a professional

environment is required, including experience building and growing an organization.
This position requires experience as a generalist, leading seamlessly across the areas
of strategic planning, sales/marketing, finance, external relations/communications
and human resources. Managerial skills including experience recruiting, developing,
motivating, coaching and retaining a strong, diverse staff in a team-oriented
environment are essential in this role.


The following executive characteristics are sought in the new leader:
Ethical –A commitment and practice to act upon the highest ethical standards at
all times. The highest level of integrity; a position and reputation of stature in the
Strategic–The vision and judgment to be able to decide when and where to
engage to ensure that critical work gets done.
Externally Facing – The ability to be effective in a variety of formal settings:
one-on-one, small and large groups, with members, elected officials, peers
and the general business community.
Exceptional Communicator – The ability to clearly present ideas, verbally or in
writing, within a variety of settings and with multiple stakeholder groups.
Entrepreneurial– Ongoing endeavor to “invent” new solutions, partners and
techniques with an eye to creating new sources of revenue and new ways of
engaging members.
Trustworthy – The commitment and ability to admit mistakes, keep confidences,
and be seen as a trusted, truthful individual.
Genuine – The style of building rapport with others by being easy to
approach, warm, pleasant, and gracious.
Inspirational – The tendency and intentionality to create a climate in which
people want to do their best; a bent toward encouraging diverse groups of
direct reports and team or project members, and empowering others.
Collaborative -- The ability to align diverse interest groups on issues and
opportunities that will benefit the overall business community; a consensus
builder with a personal style that engenders confidence.
Well-organized -- Judiciously prioritize time and tasks. The successful leader will
be efficient and results-focused on daily activities and will frequently participate in
evening and weekend activities that support the organization.
Media savvy – Skill in working with the media, social and traditional, to effectively
message business issues that affect Mankato area businesses. Develop key media
relationships and be able to act as the strategic voice of business in Mankato and
North Mankato.


The compensation package for this position is competitive and includes

participation in the organization’s benefits plan.


The offices of Greater Mankato Growth are in the Graif Building, a beautiful,
welcoming space located in Downtown Mankato. The President & Chief Executive
Officer will reside in the Greater Mankato region.


The first Europeans came through Mankato in the 1700s

looking for the Northwestern Passage to the Far East. The
first claims were staked in 1852 and Mankato was named
the Blue Earth County Seat in 1853. The first inhabitants,
the Dakota Indians, originally called it Mahkato, meaning
greenish blue earth but a spelling error was never
corrected and Mahkato became Mankato. The city received its first charter in 1868.

Located approximately 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Mankato has

an area of 18.3 square miles. Of that, eight percent of land is used for agricultural/
open space; residential land comprises 50 percent; and commercial/industrial
represents 42 percent of the land base.

Nestled in the scenic Minnesota River valley at

the convergence of the Blue Earth and
Minnesota rivers where the Minnesota River
bends to flow northeast and join the Mississippi
River near the historic Fort Snelling in Saint Paul.
The River provides a natural divide between
Mankato and North Mankato.

Mankato is the 22nd largest city in Minnesota and the 5th largest city outside of the
Twin Cities area. Greater Mankato consists of Mankato and North Mankato with a
combined population of approximately 54,000. Mankato's recent population
estimate is around 41,000 with a contiguous population area of 96,740. The
estimated number of households is 15,784. There is a trade area population of more
than 300,000 and there are 1.6 million people who live within 60 miles of Mankato.

Mankato is a leader in Minnesota’s economic growth and ranked 10th in the nation
on the Forbes 2013 list of “Best small places for businesses and careers.” Area
businesses are well balanced between commercial, industrial and agricultural.
Employment opportunities are offered in health care, education, high technology,
manufacturing, printing, retail and service-related industries.

*Source: State demographer. Annual state demographer estimates are made available typically between April 1 and June 1.

Mankato and North Mankato are home to two leading medical organizations, Mayo
Clinic Health System and the Mankato Clinic, providing a wide variety of advanced
services. Greater Mankato is home to several colleges and universities including
Minnesota State University, Mankato, Bethany Lutheran College, South Central
College in North Mankato and Gustavus Adolphus College is just 20 miles away in
Saint Peter. Thousands of students locally, nationally and internationally populate the
area each year, providing a young and culturally rich energy.

The city blends activities for all ages and interest levels. Mankato’s civic center has
hosted nationally touring ice shows, music concerts and theater productions as well
as supported local events. Recreational opportunities abound in the Mankato area
for most sports or interests for every season of the year.

Mankato is a hub for arts, entertainment, recreation, shopping and nightlife. The area
is renowned for great parks and trails. Rivers, lakes, ravines, bluffs, natural prairies
and forested areas offer breathtaking landscapes and provide a scenic backdrop for
an area steeped in historic significance.

For biking enthusiasts, Mankato features

some of the best trails in the state. Trail
users will follow streams and cross
upland and wetland areas, where one
may see all kinds of wildlife. Mankato
and North Mankato have been
designated a “Bronze” Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American
Bicyclists, Washington, D.C. Several bike trails include Minnesota River Trail which
connects to Sakatah and Minnepoa Trails. Sakatah Singing Hills Trail follows 39 miles
of abandoned railroad from Mankato to Faribault passing through farmland, small
towns and along several lakes including Madison, Sakatah and Cannon.

In 1905, Minneopa State Park became the third state park in Minnesota. Minneopa
comes from the Dakota language and is interpreted to mean "water falling twice,"
referring to the beautiful waterfalls of the Minneopa Creek. Since reintroducing a
bison herd to the park in 2017, Minneopa State Park is now one of the top 10 most
visited parks in Minnesota. Walk the trail which encircles the falls, leading down a
limestone stairway to the valley below. Ascend the opposite side and enjoy a
panoramic view of the valley which reveals the underlying geology of this area. Stop
and see Seppmann Mill, a wind driven grist mill fashioned in German style from native
stone and lumber, or hike through oak savanna and native prairie grasslands
overlooking the scenic Minnesota River Valley.

The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota offers a fun place for kids to play and
learn in an interactive and hands-on environment. Kids also enjoy special events at
the museum including Toddler Wednesdays, Play Labs and Awesome Arts and Super
Science Activities.

Mankato is rich in history. The Minnesota River Valley has a national story to tell
about the struggles for a home by the Euro-American immigrants and the Dakota
people. Museums and historical sites encourage discovery of vivid stories from days
gone by.

During the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862 at least 450 white settlers and soldiers lost
their lives along with many unrecorded Dakota casualties and forced removals. Today
we try to understand the events leading up to the conflict along with the grim
outcome – the simultaneous hanging of 38 Dakota on December 26, 1862. The U.S.-
Dakota Conflict also was the largest attack on settlers in the history of the U.S.

In 1987, Governor Rudy Perpich declared the “Year of Reconciliation.” This was a
statewide attempt to foster healing and education between non-Dakota and Dakota

On September 19, 1997, Reconciliation Park was

dedicated. The park is on the site of the largest mass
execution in U.S. history where 38 Dakota Indians
were hanged by the government. This was the result
of trials during the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862. Tom
Miller sculpted the bison from a 67-ton block of local
Kasota limestone; it is surrounded by native flowers and prairie grasses. The buffalo
symbolizes the spiritual survival of the Dakota People and honors the Dakota
heritage of this area. The park is a site to reflect, meditate and remember.

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-
Dakota Conflict, this memorial lists the names of the 38
Dakota Warriors who were hanged. Included in this
memorial is a prayer written by Eli Taylor and a poem by
Katherine Hughes. The theme of the memorial is
“Forgive Everyone Everything.” The monument was
inspired by the vision of Vernell Wabasha, an elder of the
Dakota nation.

To continue reconciliation, every September, Native Americans from a number of

tribes gather in Mankato’s Land of Memories Park, where the Dakota people held
many ceremonies and gatherings before the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862. The Pow-
wow, which is co-sponsored and co-organized by the Mdewakanton Association,
honors the 38 Dakota Warriors and is open to the public. In keeping with the theme
of reconciliation visitors and participants, native and non-native alike are welcome to
attend. The Pow-Wow has been held in Mankato since 1972. The three-day event
includes the beautiful regalia of the dancers, traditional music, delicious foods and
beautiful crafts.

Go back in time in the world of Betsy-Tacy. Mankato

is the childhood home of Maud Hart Lovelace,
beloved author of the famed Betsy-Tacy series of
children’s books. The childhood homes of Maud and
her best friend Bick Kenney (Betsy and Tacy) have
been restored and were listed as National Literary Landmarks in 2010. When visiting
the many significant Betsy-Tacy sites it is possible to erase the view of modern
advances and imagine a simpler time of the early 1900s.

Scenic spaces, history and tradition, education, arts, culture and athletics… all of this
and more awaits in Greater Mankato!


Marcia Ballinger, PhD Lars Leafblad, MBA

Co-Founder/Principal Co-Founder/Principal
651-341-4840 612-598-7547