GreenSeam becomes region's agribusiness calling card

Jonathan Zierdt, left, talks after the announcement of the GreenSeam name and logo. The southern Minnesota and northern Iowa region will use GreenSeam to brand itself as an agribusiness Silicon Valley. (Nancy Madsen/St. Peter Herald)

Greater Mankato Growth‘s regional agricultural business initiative took on a new identity June 20.

The project previously Project Ag Business EpiCenter is now called GreenSeam. The branding will help southern Minnesota and northern Iowa become known more prominently for its agribusiness, and attract new ventures and expansions.

“It’s a way to position ourselves and market this region,” said Sheryl Meshke, CEO of AMPI, a dairy products producer in New Ulm. “There is the weight of responsibility and possibility that this can evoke the passion for the region in those around us.”

The name and logo were unveiled at a public event at Riverfront Park in Mankato with more than 500 people from 300 entities represented, GMG said.

“This is an opportunity to share our long-kept secret,” Meshke said. “When you’re in food, there’s no better place to be.”

The effort began in 2013, a news release said, to “build on and connect the region’s extensive ag business assets.” The branding itself took nine months to develop based on input from regional business leaders.

“We are part of an agricultural epicenter,” GMG CEO Jonathan Zierdt said. “Our labeling and marketing as such is new, but it’s more than a place. It’s a state of mind and a state of being.”

Besides production, many businesses contribute to or rely on agriculture for their economic well-being.

Scott Bergs, co-founder and CEO of Neutral Path Communications LLC, said, “All sorts of companies are coming up with new solutions to help agriculture advance in our region.”

Connecting all of those businesses is the first stage and part of the reason for heavily attended unveiling, said Sam Ziegler, director of GreenSeam and a GMG employee.

“We need to make sure people here understand what agribusinesses they’re connected to and how,” he said.

After that, the goal will be to connect nationally and internationally through businesses with local ties.

Ziegler said the GreenSeam connections will also help with business development — figuring out what companies need to grow — and to work on education and talent fulfillment.

“We have a lot of colleges in the region and good high schools,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re working in sync with businesses in this GreenSeam on what they need to say, ‘What are you producing and what do people in this area need for training?’ and make sure they are aligning better so we can keep more graduates here.”

Finally, GreenSeam as a regional descriptor can be used by public leaders to talk with elected officials.

Strategic work in each of those areas has been started, Ziegler said.

But first, “we had to have a platform to communicate through and that’s what GreenSeam will allow us to do,” he said.

Emily Combs, research scientist at DuPont Pioneer in Mankato, said that agriculture has a great story to tell.

“This will support and showcase that southern Minnesota is an agriculture hub and is important to world food security,” she said.

Reach Associate Editor Nancy Madsen at 507-931-8568 or follow her on Twitter.com @SPHnancy.

Nancy Madsen has written for newspapers in Watertown, N.Y., and Mankato, as well as for PolitiFact Virginia at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Va. Nancy is a graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., and Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.

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