Mankato is a small community that has all of the benefits of a big city. The population of Mankato was estimated in 2006 as 34,970, with an additional 1.6 million living within 60 miles of the city limits. Mankato is located slightly more than 60 miles from the Twin Cities, nestled into rolling hills at the convergence of the Minnesota and Blue Earth Rivers. The name "Mankato" originated from the name given to the area by its original residents. The Dakota Indians called the area "Mahkato," which translates to "greenish blue earth." It's widely believed that an undetected spelling error resulted in the city's current name.
The area enjoys a strong economic base, thanks to the city government, which works to foster a strong economic status, and Minnesota State University, which lends vibrancy to the city's economy. Mankato was named in the top 10 percent of the nation's micropolitans. Some of the ways the government helps continue economic growth include tax incentives and financing opportunities. The government of Mankato also partners with businesses to help them grow and thrive through organizations such as the Business Development Organization. The city helps growing businesses with technical assistance and engineering guidance, as well as provids a community profile and data startup services. A few of the major employers in Mankato include:
The city of Mankato accommodates a mostly urban population of nearly 36,000. Neighborhoods and districts of Mankato accommodate around 12,500 houses, out of which more than 12,000 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than half are owner-occupied, while renters occupy the rest. The neighborhoods of Mankato have a housing density of approximately 837 houses or condos per square mile.
The walkability of Mankato is very good, as most grocery stores, restaurants and schools are within a mile's distance from the center of the city.
Minnesota State University, Mankato: This four-year university has the third largest student body in Minnesota, with more than 14,000 students enrolled in the fall of 2008. (This number includes students in the Mankato campus as well as those who attend the Twin Cities campus.) The sports teams are called the Minnesota State University Mavericks and mostly compete in NCAA Division II in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The ice hockey teams compete in the NCAA Division I level in the prestigious Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Athletic teams available to students include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, hockey, track and field, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling.
Bethany Lutheran College: Commonly known as BLC, this college is a private coed college associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and is located on the Minnesota River Valley in Mankato. The college athletic teams are known as the Vikings. They are members of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and play in the NCAA Division III. In addition to this association, they are also associated with the National Christian College Athletic Association. Sports available to students include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
Rasmussen College: Rasmussen College is a private college that offers associate and bachelor's degrees in its satellite campus in Mankato.
South Central College: South Central College is commonly known as SCC and is a two-year community and technical college. The home campus for SCC is located in southern Minnesota; North Mankato is home to a satellite campus.
Famous Mankatoans include: