You made it through Election 2008. You survived the senatorial recount—oh, is that another eighteen missing ballots under my desk? You need something more relaxing. Why not continue perusing the January issue of Connect Business Magazine? So buckle your seat belts and away we go………..

First, we can’t say it enough. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the MSU College of Business professors serving as judges for our Business Person of the Year awards. They have made our awards credible and impartial. Even though they have been our judges the last four years, each year, people ask the Editor who chooses the winners. The answer: MSU business professors. Our readers do the nominating every September……….

Our hearty congratulations go out to Greater Mankato for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget classifying the “Little Twin Cities” on December 4 as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Greater Mankato now qualifies for Community Development Block Program money, transportation funding, and other federal programs. In addition, as Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said in our July ’08 issue, “Businesses tend to look at MSA designation when examining whether to locate in a particular area”……….

Down in lower North Mankato, Joni McCluhan is experiencing plenty of change. About a year ago, her husband, Rick McCluhan (Cover, July ’99), owner of Express Personnel Services and former Reform Party state chair, passed away. In a telephone interview, the Editor asked her about the state of Express Personnel: “Business is going very well,” she said. “I have a great staff and I’m very thankful they were here when Rick passed on. On November 11, I began here full-time as the general manager. I have three children who aren’t involved with the business, but one day may be. Right now, due to the economy, there are a lot of people looking for work. I wish I could find everyone a job. But there are still companies looking for people”………..

Not long ago, the Editor noticed in our reading area yet another USAGain used clothing bin, this time outside a Nicollet convenience store. USAGain, a for-profit company with operations in Minneapolis, New York, Atlanta, San Diego, Chicago, and other cities, recycles old clothing and gives the businesses hosting the bin a per-pound cut of the total take. In a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview, the Editor asked Pam Year (Cover, Sept. ’06), MRCI executive director, about the impact those bins are having on local thrift store operations: “There are three stores in Mankato already competing for used clothing: MRCI Thrift Store, Salvation Army, and Again Thrift Store. Our concern isn’t so much with the (USAGain) Mankato bins, but theirs in smaller communities. We’re concerned people in these smaller communities normally donating to MRCI Thrift Store will no longer make the trip to Mankato”………Year said MRCI Thrift Store receives a financial benefit from every article of clothing donated, either from resell in its retail store or through sales of too-worn donated clothing to a textile recycling company. Giving to local thrift stores benefits local people. Year would prefer working alongside out-of-state USAGain, rather than against……….

It really is encouraging seeing new business development in smaller cities. Not long ago, the Editor was driving through Winnebago and noticed a new grocery store on a previously empty lot—and a new convenience store being constructed directly across the street. In a telephone interview, Marketplace Foods manager Scott Owen said, “Our store used to be in an older, run-down building. The City of Winnebago and Bob Weerts (Cover, Jan. ’06) came up with a plan to build this 10,000 sq. ft. building. The current owner, Jim Baldus, could not have remained competitive at the old site. Also, across the street from us, will be a brand-new Casey’s convenience store”……….

Speaking of Weerts: His Blue Valley Sod-sponsored “Holiday by the River” event November 28 drew a massive crowd to the North Mankato riverfront. The event had something for everyone, including free food, Christmas music, horse carriage rides, fireworks, and giveaways, and had scads of local co-sponsors. JO Guck Bailey (Cover, Jan. ’98) and six-station Radio Mankato played a part. Weerts purchased three years worth of fireworks, meaning the event will continue at least another two years. The November 28 affair alone used 1,100 pieces of fireworks, Weerts said to Connect Business Magazine—nothing like ending an event with a big bang. The Editor and family that night also stopped by another event featuring the “World’s largest Christmas tree” lighting, which illuminated a Lee Boulevard radio tower………..

Finally, join us in welcoming our new Hot Startz! photographer, Art Sidner. One interesting fact about Art: back in the day, he was a 3M engineer, and later, Gov. Al Quie’s state policy director………Also, next issue marks our fifteenth anniversary. Connect Business Magazine—the first glossy magazine covering our section of Minnesota terra firma—began in March 1994. See you next issue for a special anniversary salute………

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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