Initiative begins to create area blueprint through 2040

Mar. 19—MANKATO — A large-scale regional planning effort is getting under way to develop a roadmap for planning and development during the next couple of decades.

"The Transforming Tomorrow Together — Greater Mankato 2040" initiative follows similar previous efforts called Act 2000 and Envision 2020.

"We have a long history of planning, and this initiative is a real opportunity to focus on the future and the strategic positioning of our region," said Jessica Beyer, president and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth.

The yearlong effort is starting with an online survey that any resident in the region is encouraged to take. Beyer stresses that the survey and process are not just for Mankatoans.

"People come here to work and visit from a large area, 60 miles around, and we want input from the area."

The survey link is:

The group leading the effort said a fundamental premise of the initiative is that the world is changing fast. "We need bold thinking to help figure out how this region can thrive over the coming decades. We are exploring how we need to evolve and transform as a region, and what our unique proposition is in a Midwest and global context," says the mission statement of Greater Mankato 2040.

"An effective visioning process is based on three primary principles: It is future oriented, data driven, and people focused. The 'future orientation' is particularly important to take account of rapidly emerging social, technological trends, and macroeconomics," the release stated.

Beyer said that after the initial survey gathers general themes, more work is to be done throughout the year, including roundtables, in-person events, and involvement by all business sectors as well as civic and arts, culture and entertainment groups.

By the end of this year, the focus will be narrowed with a final 2040 document plan to be finished in early 2024.

Beyer said they want to connect the initiative to other strategic planning efforts in the region, including a "Destination 2030" plan being developed by Minnesota State University and long-range planning done by Mankato and other local governments.

There has also been a portal set up that will be the place where all future information, events and other resources are put. The link to the portal is:

The Envision 2020 plan saw a number of the goals that were laid out in the early 2000s come to fruition.

The creation of Riverfront Park, more mixed-use developments, state funding for the civic center, construction of the VINE senior center and the remodeling of the YMCA all grew out of the plan.

Envision 2020 also focused on the City Center Renaissance and redevelopment for the downtowns in both Mankato and North Mankato, more community-oriented policing and connecting area communities to the Mankato wastewater treatment system — goals that were largely met over the years.