People Spark Consulting – Kristen Ireland & Erin Mies

9 Things Businesses Can Do Today For Their Employees Amid Our Changing World Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.  You can’t overdo this right now. This does not mean communicating only when you have information or decisions. Communication needs to be consistent and ongoing.  If you have no updates or no new information, share what you have said […]

GreenSeam Launches First Ever Minnesota State of Ag Report

MANKATO, Minn. (March 24, 2020) — For the first time in the State of Minnesota, GreenSeam and numerous volunteers, partners and residents have helped to conduct and launch the Minnesota State of Ag Report.

The State of Ag Report is a comprehensive survey of Minnesota’s agribusinesses and related businesses. It reveals the perceptions and opinions on the economy and other major issues impacting ag businesses, with an emphasis on education and talent attraction and retention. GreenSeam needs business leaders, human resources professionals and executive level professionals to provide their expertise and insights. 

The State of Ag report includes five focus groups held in five locations in the GreenSeam. Thank you to all hosts from helping make this report become a reality.

  • Austin, Development Corporation of Austin
  • Fairmont, Fairmont Economic Development
  • Faribault, Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Mankato, Greater Mankato Growth
  • Marshall, Economic Development Authority

Participants were asked to share challenges and solutions their businesses face each day. The focus groups provided a strong reach of southern Minnesota. GreenSeam was worked hard to capture both the concerns and opportunities businesses are looking at today and long-term.

The report will give our agriculture industry and rural Minnesota a much-needed voice in what is happening. With access to the knowledge of leaders and more information, we can properly address the challenges employers have today and prepare for their future needs. The information in the report regarding talent needs will be shared with our educational partners to ensure our education system is on track. This will also allow the GreenSeam to further define the full breadth of agriculture.

GreenSeam asked for individuals representing the following business classifications to participate: Farmers, Food & Beverage, Livestock, Agronomy / Crop Science, Agri-Services / Business, Transportation / Energy, and Professional Services.

Tom Mason of Mason Public Affairs lead the focus groups and the creation of the initial survey. Report results and discussion will be shared on KTOE radio 1420 AM, 102.7 FM starting at 3:00 pm each day. The topics are as follows:

  1. March 24: National Ag Day, Inaugural MN State of Ag Report Released, Talent Shortage
  2. March 25: Regional Collaboration, agribusiness, education, etc.
  3. March 26: Careers in Ag
  4. March 27: Next Steps for ag in our region

Thank you to our sponsors, Ardent Mills, Bremer Bank, Crystal Valley Coop, Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture, Minnesota Pork Producers and Minnesota State University-Mankato. Thank you also to our community hosts; Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce, Development Corporation of Austin, Fairmont Economic Development, Marshall Economic Development Authority and Greater Mankato Growth. Also, a special thanks to team at the Southern MN Agricultural Center of Excellence for working on this with us.

“This is a big day for GreenSeam to share our inaugural report so we can begin to tackle the challenges and start to leverage our strengths to drive future economic growth in our region!” said Sam Ziegler, Director of GreenSeam. “The commitment our regional partners have made to collaborate with GreenSeam is key to the success of rural Minnesota and agriculture.”

About GreenSeam, LLC

GreenSeam is a grassroots initiative, created by countless businesses and professionals from southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. This initiative exists to build on existing ag business prominence maximizing a growing economic marketplace in order to be the premier ag business epicenter in the United States – the most diverse, balanced and sustainable. It is a place that is agriculturally relevant, responsive and diverse. GreenSeam is a business unit of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. (GMG). Learn more at

Sam Ziegler, 507.385.6672



Coworking Spaces in Southern Minnesota Join Forces in Passport Program

Members will be able to work in six towns across the state using the plan.

AUSTIN, MN (February 11, 2020) – Six coworking spaces across Southern Minnesota announced the “Greater Minnesota Coworking Passport” today. The program will allow members who join to work at any of the coworking spaces that are part of the program. The program came about in a conversation between Mogwai Collaborative in Mankato and Collider Foundation in Rochester, and was organized by Austin Community Growth Ventures.

“We’ve been wanting to create a collaborative program like this in our region for a while now, and are thrilled to finally announce it!” said Stephanie Braun of Mogwai Collaborative. “I think it’s an important gesture that we coworking directors come together to collaborate like this – to not only offer our entrepreneurs productive and professional working environments in a number of locations, but to also inspire more collaboration between the entrepreneurs themselves, and help jumpstart our region’s innovations in the process.”

Coworking spaces that are already participating in the program include Mogwai Collaborative in Mankato, Launch Coworking Space in Austin, Collider Coworking in Rochester, Pi-Co.Works in Pine Island, Red Wing Ignite in Red Wing, and The Garage Cowork Space in Winona, with more expected to join soon.

“In talking with our members, it really drove home that a large percentage of the workforce in Minnesota isn’t stationary in a single town – they work all across the state,” said Jamie Sundsbak of Collider Foundation, which operates Collider Coworking. 

“Empowering the entrepreneurs in our communities to use all the assets available in Minnesota to make their endeavors easier is why we’re here,” said Sean Williams of Austin Community Growth Ventures, which operates the Launch Coworking Space in Austin. “Joining forces was a no-brainer.”

The program has two tiers of membership. Members can purchase a Punch Card Passport for $99 online or at one of the participating coworking spaces, and can redeem it for up to five visits at any of the member spaces. Additionally, a Monthly Passport for $250 gives unlimited access to participating coworking spaces during their posted “drop-in” hours. The passports can be redeemed all at a single location, or at multiple locations across the state – even in a single day.

“Southern Minnesota is great at collaborating across community boundaries,” said Adam Gettings of Red Wing Ignite. “This passport program is another perfect example of that.”

“We want to eventually create a physical passport book for members to use,” added Sundsbak, “with a prize of some kind for visiting all the participating coworking spaces.”

For more information, and to purchase a passport, visit


Mogwai Collaborative opened July 2nd, 2018 as local business in Mankato, MN. Their mission statement is: “We aim to provide an innovative, thriving and collaborative office space environment to meet the needs of the modern entrepreneur in our region.” Mogwai offers both coworking and private office space. It is located inside the Hubbard Building, which runs on rooftop solar panels and features live plant walls inside, and was 2019’s recipient of the City Center Partnership Sustainability Award.


Austin Community Growth Ventures (ACGV) was established in 2015 by the Development Corporation of Austin’s Austin Community Charitable Fund (ACCF) to promote, encourage, and aid in the creation of an innovative ecosystem that supports education, creates quality jobs, and increases the new application of biotechnology, agricultural technology, and food science. ACGV is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization, and operates the Launch Coworking Space and Austin Area Angels programs in Austin, MN.



Sean Williams

Ecosystem Builder

Austin Community Growth Ventures

Development Corporation of Austin

(507) 509-9039 office

(310) 936-3210 cell

Partnership Provides Hands-On Experience for Students

Jerry Johnson, founder and CEO of Aglytix, an agriculture and food technology company, presented Vincent Winstead, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Technology at Minnesota State University, Mankato, with five fixed-wing drones for student training and projects. A number of years ago, Johnson provided Winstead three drones, which they are still using today and they are redesigning them with updated camera and battery technology with an open sourced system.

“They have made such great use of the drones by providing hands-on teaching of students about drone technologies including GPS, sensors, autopilots and batteries,” Johnson said.

GreenSeam and Minnesota State University, Mankato have been partnering to build the capacity of the University surrounding agriculture and food. This is a great example of how the ag industry is responding to the new program offerings the University is constructing.

“Drones will be a key technology for agriculture. Basically a drone is a flying sensor that can capture very detailed data, all across a field, whenever you want to capture it,” said Johnson.

“We hope that our partnership with Aglytix remains strong in the future and that we can deliver expertise and drone resources to other projects as well in agriculture and other aerial imaging applications,” Winstead said.

Sam Ziegler, Director of GreenSeam, applauds Aglytix for donating these drones and Professor Winstead for stepping up to the challenge of providing hands-on experiences for students with ag technology.