InterCity Leadership Visit

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Leadership Delegation - ICLV


The purpose of a InterCity Leadership Visit (ICLV) is to bring together community leaders to advance the collective good of our community. Every couple of years, Greater Mankato Growth gathers a cross section of top leaders in government, business, and nonprofit sectors of our region to address relevant topics currently impacting the Greater Mankato region. This delegation then travels to another US community that aligns with the key priorities and goals from our Envision 2020 plan, that will offer us some good examples of best practices and successes that we can implement in Greater Mankato.



Fayetteville, Arkansas has been selected as the destination for the 2018 Greater Mankato Leadership Delegation Intercity Leadership Visit (ICLV). A delegation of business and community leaders will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas October 10-12 to study innovative ideas and best practices that may be adapted to the Greater Mankato region. Of particular interest will be the way Fayetteville is addressing top priorities the Greater Mankato region identified by surveying key community leaders, past delegates and our Young Professionals this spring. The top priorities identified are:Pp

  • Affordable housing
  • Greater Mankato as a destination for visiting, working and living
  • Talent Development/Attraction/Retention       
  • Regional recreation

Pre-Trip Orientation Agenda

Pre-Trip Orientation Presentation

News Release

About ICLV
Greater Mankato Leadership Delegation, consists of bringing a group of Greater Mankato's leaders together or conducting a trip to another U.S. city to study specific, identified issues. Participants study applicable best practices first-hand, as well as challenges and opportunities to overcome. Greater Mankato’s leadership delegation is the first such leadership project undertaken by a tier-two community in Minnesota.

The destination is carefully selected based on identified goals and issues to be studied. Our local community needs are taken into account along with similar community characteristics such as population, higher education institutions, industry, agricultural influences, medical facilities, proximity to a metropolitan area.

The Leadership Delegation is an invitation-only event. Delegates are invited who represent various communities and sectors – business, nonprofit, government, religious, etc. Delegates develop and strengthen relationships throughout the trip. This also contributes to stronger working relationships and community ties.

1. Explore challenges and opportunities
2. Continue to strengthen connections
3. Rejuvenate and refuel

2018 Trip - Fayetteville, Arkansas



Dear Greater Mankato Leaders:

Thank you for committing your time and resources to participate in the 2018 Greater Mankato Leadership Delegation’s InterCity Leadership Visit. Greater Mankato Growth is so proud to have you be a part of this proactive, collaborative approach to enhancing our community. We have many community and regional assets on which to build and many stakeholders who are committed to the future success of our region. 

During our journey to Fayetteville, Arkansas we expect you will see and hear some interesting parallels to Greater Mankato and will learn new ideas that may be applied to our economic and community development work. Our staff and planning committee have worked with your peers in the Fayetteville area to showcase some of their most relevant stories and initiatives that align with our community visioning goals. Your participation in this multi-day journey, and the key takeaways and action plans we will begin working on together before leaving Fayetteville, will ensure that what we learn will be applied on our return to Greater Mankato.

This trip also offers us the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with one another and share perspectives of our hopes and dreams for Greater Mankato. It is our individual and collective leadership that will continue to produce successful results for our region.

I want to extend my appreciation to our planning committee and staff at Greater Mankato Growth for the development and execution of this entire effort. We also want to acknowledge the additional sponsorships that several businesses contributed to make this trip possible. Finally, while in Fayetteville please help us thank all their wonderful leaders who have opened their doors to us and shared their best practices and insights with us. 

Let’s make tomorrow even better,

Jonathan G.  Zierdt

President & CEO

About ICLV

The first delegation from Greater Mankato gathered in 2005 for an Inter-City Leadership Visit (ICLV) to Bellingham, WA, which gave 73 community leaders great ideas to begin our Envision 2020 (E2020) plan. In 2006 a similarly sized delegation traveled to Fort Collins, CO, which spurred the ideas for much of our city center revitalization efforts and our online community events calendar. In 2007 and 2009 delegations held retreats locally to continue the progress of our E2020 goals. Since then delegations visited Charlottesville, VA in 2011 and Columbia, MO 2015. Each of these trips have generated ideas to move Greater Mankato forward and strengthen the relationships and partnerships among our top leaders. This year we are excited to visit Fayetteville, AR to catalyze new ideas and stimulate rich conversations among our delegates.


The purpose of each ICLV is to bring together leaders to advance the collective good of our community. Every few years, Greater Mankato Growth gathers a cross section of top leaders in business, government and non-profit sectors to address relevant topics currently impacting the Greater Mankato region. This delegation then travels to another U.S. community that aligns with key priorities and goals from broad community conversations or plans such as E2020 that will offer us some examples of best practices and successes that we can implement in Great Mankato.


Past ICLV participants and Young Professionals alumni were surveyed to identify the most pertinent topics to study on this trip. Four study areas were clearly identified to explore. They were:

  • Affordable housing 
  • Greater Mankato as a destination for visiting, working and living 
  • Talent Development/Attraction/Retention        
  • Regional recreation


Tuesday, October 9

Group C arrives at 9:30 pm

Wednesday, October 10

Group A arrives at 10:54 am

Group B arrives at 12:04 pm

Lunch provided by Wright’s BBQ

Session I

Northwest Arkansas Council (NWAC) 1:30 – 2:30 pm Venue: Fayetteville Public Library

Part A: Welcome and background of Northwest Arkansas Council (NWAC)

David Johnson, Executive Director – Fayetteville Public Library 

Nelson Peacock, President & CEO – NWAC 

Michael Harvey, Chief Operating Office – NWAC 


Part B: Examples of how it has worked. Panel from the Council.

Richard B. Hudson, Past Chair, NWAC, former Vice Chancellor for Governmental Affairs, University of Arkansas

Steve Clark, President & CEO, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce


Part C: GMG Breakout 2:30 – 3:30 pm “What can we learn/apply from the Northwest Arkansas Council?”

Break: 3:30 – 3:45 pm

Session I Survey >>

Session II 

Walking tour of Downtown Fayetteville 3:45 – 5:00 pm

Reception/Dinner Venue: Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, 6:00 – 8:30 pm

Jonathan Zeirdt, President & CEO Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. 

Christopher Decker, Chief Administrative Officer, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce

Lioneld JordanMayor  City of Fayetteville 


Session II Survey >>


Thursday, October 11

Leave hotel 7:15 am

Breakfast, 7:30 – 8:15 am Venue: Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House, University of Arkansas,  Welcome 

Laura Jacobs, Associate Vice Chancellor & Chief of Staff – University of Arkansas

Deb Eucalano – Arkansas Alumni Association

Kevin Trainor – University of Arkansas Athletic Department


Session III

Breakout reports and recap from Wednesday. 8:15 – 10:00 am  

Break 10:00 – 10:15 am

Session III Survey >>

Session IV

Group Tours 10:15 am – 12:00 pm

  • Housing Tour of Fayetteville
  • Public/private/philanthropic examples, Town Center, Katie Tennant, Arkansas Community Foundation
  • Livability “Electric bike” tour 

Lunch, 12:00 – 1:00 pm Venue: Walton Art Center (WAC)

Topic: “Why Fayetteville is charming and Mayberryesque”

Steve Clark, President & CEO – Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce 

Suzanne Clark, Attorney – Clark Law Firm

Session IV Survey >>


Session V

Topic: “Why Did We Move Here? Why Do We Stay?” panel. 1:15 – 3:00 pm Venue: Walton Art Center

Cynthia Schneider, Vice-President Marketing NWA – The Bank of Fayetteville 

Chung Tan, Chief Economic Development Officer – Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce 


Break 3:00 – 3:15 pm

Session V Survey >>

Session VI

Topic: Students as Future Residents and Workers 3:30 – 5:00 pm Venue: Walton School of Business

 Stacey Leeds, Vice Chancellor for Economic Development – University of Arkansas

Session VI Survey >>


Session VII

Fayetteville Professionals Night Out 5:00 – 7:00 pm Hosted by Fayetteville Chamber and Arkansas Physical Health and Rehabilitation Venue: Arkansas Physical Health and Rehabilitation

Dinner 7:00 – 8:30 pm Venue: Bordino’s  

Mahlon Rice, President, Washington County Historical Society

Session VII Survey >>

Friday, October 12

Breakfast 7:30 – 8:00 a.m. Venue: Hilton Garden Inn

Session VIII

Closing Session 8:00 – 9:30 am What do we bring back?

Hotel Check-out and Depart for Airport (XNA) 10:00 am Group B & C

Hotel Check-out and Depart for Airport (XNA) 2:00 pm Group A

Delegate Review Survey >>

Planning Committee

Thank you to the members of the 2018 Planning Committee. With your insights and leadership, this trip has been well orchestrated. 

Laura Bowman - Mayo Clinic Health System

Dan Bruss - Greater Mankato Growth/ICLV

Joe Duncan - Bolton & Menk, Inc.

Ben Ellingson - Eide Bailly

John Harrenstein - City of North Mankato

Steve Jameson - The Free Press

Nate Mullikin - Taylor Companies

Alec Pfeffer - ISG

Todd Prafke - City of Saint Peter

Liz Sharp - Greater Mankato Growth

Kristi Schuck - WYSIWYG Juice Co.

Andy Wilke - River Hills Mall

Nancy Zallek - Mankato Area Foundation

Alison Zelms - City of Mankato


In addition to our speakers, many individuals and organizations assisted in the planning and execution of the 2018 InterCity Leadership Visit- too numerous to list. Our sincere appreciation to all, especially:

Steve Clark, President & CEO, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce

Chung Tan, Chief Economic Development Officer – Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce

Greater Mankato Growth Staff 

Dan Bruss, ICLV Project Lead

Liz Sharp,  ICLV Staff Coordinator

2018 Sponsors


Visionary SponsorPre-Trip Sponsor


Dinner/Hospitality Sponsors
Lunch Sponsors


Breakfast Sponsors



Previous Visits

Columbia, Missouri | 2015

A delegation of business and community leaders traveled to Columbia, Missouri to study innovative ideas and best practices that may be adapted to the Greater Mankato region. Key focus areas and opportunities for the trip were identified as part of the Envision 2020 Phase 2 initiative and included: economic development strategies and partnerships; talent development, attraction and retention initiatives; health care; downtown development and cultural affairs; agriculture and education and sports facilities. 

Links: Delegate Takeaways  |  Quotes from the Delegate  |  Photos from the trip


In the News:

Our View: Lessons from GMG's Columbia Journey | The Free Press>>

Mankato learns from Columbia's Successes, failures | The Free Press>>

Business leaders show broad interests | Minnesota Valley Business>>

Charlottesville, Virginia | 2011

A Greater Mankato Delegation was gathered to represent a diverse mix of community stakeholders from Mankato, North Mankato, Eagle Lake and area cities across Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties - bringing a regional marketplace perspective to this initiative. One of the goals of this Inter-City Leadership Visit is to strengthen the bonds between diverse leaders who must excel in collaboration for the advancement of the region. A three-day agenda was organized to help Greater Mankato delegates learn some best practice ideas that will help us advance select Envision 2020 goals. Particular emphasis was placed on three areas ready for mobilization: Economic Development, Talent Development, and Collaborative Partnerships between Government or Non-Profits. Some other topics were woven through the agenda, including: transportation, city center renaissance, community facilities, sustainability and livability aspects.

Chaska, Minnesota | 2009

The theme for the 2009 leadership retreat was "Strong Leadership During Challenging Times." The sessions revolved around finding opportunities throughout our challenging times and what that means to the various sectors within our community.

Part of the focus was understanding the priorities and updates essential to Envision2020, which became the new community vision and strategic planning process to follow ACT 2000, which began in the mid 1980s. Mankato and North Mankato were nationally recognized for ACT 2000, their long-range planning process.

Envision 2020 stakeholders have identified six major topics that are guiding the strategic planning process. In addition to redevelopment and revitalization of the community’s city center and riverfront -- the top issue identified by the 2005 ICLV – the main focal issues were taken from the Envision 2020 mission. 

Mankato and North Mankato, Minnesota | 2007

The participants were delegates of the InterCity Leadership Visits to Bellingham, WA and Fort Collins, CO.  The delegation was a diverse mix of community stakeholders from Mankato-North Mankato and Blue Earth County, Nicollet County, St. Peter, Le Sueur and Winnebago -- bringing a regional marketplace perspective to this initiative. The retreat further strengthened the bonds between diverse leaders who need to excel in working together for the region.

The two-day agenda was guided by the six Key Performance Areas (KPAs) identified by Envision 2020 stakeholders. KPA representatives reported on their progress and successes and which goals are next in the pipeline. Particular emphasis was placed on three areas ready for mobilization: City Center Renaissance, Community Facilities, and Early Childhood Learning.

Day two focused on talent development. Experts from Philadelphia PA and Oklahoma City, OK shared their successful strategies for talent development through maximizing opportunities during the “student life cycle”:

  • Attract:  Increase and strengthen the talent pool enrolling and graduating from the region’s colleges and universities.
  • Engage:  Increase the quality and number of connections each student has with the region.
  • Retain:  Make internships a core element of the college experience.

To conclude the event, a ‘Call to Action” list was compiled, and delegates were asked for commitments to assist where immediate action could be taken.


Fort Collins, Colorado | 2006

Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation assembled a delegation of 75 key leaders for its second Inter-City Leadership Visit.  The group completed an intensive three-day agenda that encompassed interaction with officials from Fort Collins and Larimer County government, industry, economic development, health care, higher education, arts and more.

The regional delegation was a diverse mix of stakeholders that included CEOs, presidents of area colleges and universities, mayors, city and county administrators, elected officials, nonprofit executives, heads of community organizations and foundations, and religious leadership. The delegation included representation from Mankato, St. Peter, Le Sueur, Winnebago, Blue Earth County and Nicollet County, bringing a regional marketplace perspective to the initiative.

The main focus points:

  • Build social capital by pulling together as a community of leaders for concerted action.
  • Encourage community business leaders to recognize that they must take a more proactive approach to community growth and development and not abdicate their responsibility in such matters.  
  • Explore our strengths and weaknesses and identify tactics to align assets.
  • Facilitate a means to better understand our role and responsibilities as a regional center.
  • Rekindle the entrepreneurial capacity within the community.

The delegates found that Fort Collins faces similar challenges in economic development, managing growth, downtown and riverfront revitalization, health care, regional transportation infrastructure, and embracing diversity.

The group also gained insights on Fort Collins successes, such as use of alternative energy, university-business collaboration, entrepreneurship, intergovernmental relations, and the economic impact of a thriving arts community.

The feedback and knowledge gained will be meshed back into Envision 2020, as that group's implementation committee proceeds to prioritize goals and oversee the ongoing execution of the action plans.

Said one delegate, “I feel that over time trips like this with the caliber of people in attendance will pay large dividends for Greater Mankato.”


Inaugural Visit: Bellingham, Washington | 2005

In 2005, Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation (GMEDC) introduced an exciting initiative – the InterCity Leadership Visit (ICLV). ICLVs have been undertaken by major cities around the country. GMEDC’s organization of the ICLV is innovative for a “tier-two” community and a first in Minnesota, except for Minneapolis/St. Paul, who initiated annual ICLVs in 2002. Invited participants studied ideas, programs, initiatives, and best practices that could adapted to the Mankato and North Mankato region.

For the 2005 trip, GMEDC assembled a diverse delegation of community stakeholders. More than 50 percent of the participants represented the private and corporate sectors, while the balance of the delegation was composed of leaders from the nonprofit, education, utility, and government sectors. Public representation included individuals from the communities of Mankato and North Mankato, Blue Earth, and St. Peter, as well as the counties of Blue Earth and Nicollet.

“The outstanding response to the ICLV demonstrates that area leaders are ready to take a proactive approach to economic and community development” said GMEDC’s board chair, Tom Riley. “This initiative will serve to align our regional assets and leverage southern Minnesota’s competitive advantage.”

To encourage representation from all sectors, GMEDC’s planning team established a scholarship program to support the initiative. Through the generosity of the corporate participants, eligible delegates representing nonprofit organizations and education received financial support to enable their participation.

Bellingham, Washington was chosen in part for its key similarities to Greater Mankato. Issues studied included health care, technology, relationships between business and education, entrepreneurship, diversity, and regional partnerships and economic development strategies.



The Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. Family: Visit Mankato City Center Partnership