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Owatonna () is a city in Steele County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 25,599 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Steele County. Owatonna is home to the Steele County Fairgrounds, which hosts the Steele County Free Fair in August. Interstate 35 and U.S. Highways 14, and 218 are three of the main routes in the city.
Faribault ( FAIR-boh) is a city in, and the county seat of, Rice County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 23,352 at the 2010 census. Faribault is approximately 50 miles (80 km) south of Minneapolis–Saint Paul. Interstate 35 and Minnesota State Highways 3, 21, and 60 are four of Faribault's main routes. Faribault is situated at the confluence of the Cannon and Straight Rivers in southern Minnesota.
Mankato ( man-KAY-toh) is a city in Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Le Sueur counties in the state of Minnesota. The population was 39,309 according to the 2010 census, making it the fifth largest city in Minnesota outside the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area. It is along a large bend of the Minnesota River at its confluence with the Blue Earth River. Mankato is across the Minnesota River from North Mankato. Mankato and North Mankato have a combined population of 57,487 according to the 2020 census estimates. It completely encompasses the town of Skyline. North of Mankato Regional Airport, a tiny non-contiguous part of the city lies within Le Sueur County. Most of the city is in Blue Earth County. Mankato is the larger of the two principal cities of the Mankato-North Mankato metropolitan area, which covers Blue Earth and Nicollet counties and had a combined population of 94,149 at the 2010 census. The 2020 Census estimate is 102,723. The U.S. Census Bureau designated Mankato a Metropolitan Statistical Area in November 2008.In 2017, Schools.com named Mankato the second-best small college town in the United States.
Albert Lea is a city in Freeborn County, in southern Minnesota. It is the county seat. Its population was 18,016 at the 2010 census.The city is at the junction of Interstates 35 and 90, about 90 miles (140 km) south of the Twin Cities. It is on the shores of Fountain Lake, Pickerel Lake, Albert Lea Lake, Goose Lake, School Lake, and Lake Chapeau. Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake are part of the Shell Rock River flowage. The city's early growth was based on agriculture, farming support services and manufacturing, and it was a significant rail center. At one time it was the site of Cargill's headquarters. Other manufacturing included Edwards Manufacturing (barn equipment), Scotsman Ice Machines, Streater Store fixtures, and Universal Milking Machines. As in many U.S. cities, Albert Lea's manufacturing base has substantially diminished. A major employer was the Wilson & Company meatpacking plant, later known as Farmstead and Farmland. This facility was destroyed by fire in July 2001.