Laying the foundation for a technology-based regional economy


On May 1, 2020, Technology Plus Center, a private 501 (c)(3) organization, moved into the 63,000 square-foot office building it purchased in late 1999.

Located in northeast Mankato within the Eastwood Industrial Park, Technology Plus Center is midway through its implementation schedule and is beginning to look and act very much like an epicenter of technological growth and development.

Since May, the project has focused on work related to its first phase —establishing anchor tenants and remodeling for the classroom, business, incubator and community use.

As of November, it is continuing to remodel as well as lay the groundwork for phase two —the establishment of a satellite community access center in downtown Mankato. 

Project staff point with pride to several accomplishments.

Technology Plus Center has secured its own 24,000 square-foot space, nearly completed the building’s telecommunications wiring, renovated and leased 25,000 square feet to the building’s previous owner (a company that was planning to relocate its 100 employees out of the area), secured office space for Minnesota Technology, Inc. and the Institute for Wireless Education, settled three incubator companies within the building, housed two ongoing student projects involving 3M in St. Paul and Brown Printing in Waseca, and is negotiating leases with enough companies to fill the remaining 12,000 square feet set aside for full-paying anchor tenants by early next year.

More Than Just a Building

The project got its formal launch in 1998 when it received a $4.5 million state grant.

An additional $4.5 million in local matching funds brought the budget to $9 million, and the project proceeded to form a nine-member steering committee representing businesses, government agencies, institutions of higher learning, public entities, and secondary and elementary schools.

This committee, in turn, hired Dr. Layne Hopkins, a newly retired Minnesota State University computer science professor, to head up the project.

But the project’s actual history dates back as far as 1989. Dr. Hopkins, who was one of those advocating the idea of a technology center, remembers the early skepticism.

“Back then,” he says, “everyone just laughed.” But during the 1990s, Mankato began to emerge as a center for cutting-edge wireless technology, helping to facilitate partnerships and initiatives linking academic and technical institutions in both Mankato and Finland.

Mankato’s reputation as a region responsive to the high-tech needs of the business community and supportive of creative academic/industry partnerships continued to grow, providing the basis for Technology Plus Center’s present successes.

Dr. Hopkins emphasizes the importance of the center’s synergistic role —its ability to bring technology players together, allow them to explore mutual areas of interest, and spark a variety of new initiatives.

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