The City of Owatonna is the county seat of Steele County and is located about 65 miles southwest of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis St Paul) metropolitan area at the crossroads of Interstate 35 and U.S. Highways 14 and 218. The City encompasses about 15 square miles. The City is located on the Straight River in the heart of Southern Minnesota. Owatonna's scenic setting, healthy economy, quality lifestyle and proximity to the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area are factors that have contributed to the City's substantial growth. Highway 14 connects half the employment centers in Southern Minnesota and three-quarters of the top employers.
Owatonna has developed from its agricultural heritage to a community with a diverse economy, including a strong industrial, financial, and service base. Owatonna is the home of many nationally renowned firms such as Federated Mutual Insurance Company, Bosch, Jostens, Daikin, Costco, Wenger Company, and others.
Image: State of Minnesota showing Owatonna, Mankato, Rochester and Minneapolis with the primary roadways marked.
The City of Owatonna operates under a home-rule charter form of government. Policy-making and legislative authority are vested in a governing council consisting of a mayor and seven other members, all elected on a non-partisan basis. The Mayor position is a non-voting position. Council members serve four-year terms, with half of the council up for election every other year. The mayor and two council members are elected at large, and the remaining members of the Council are elected to serve one of the five wards. The City Administrator is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administrative affairs and operations of government.
The City provides a full range of services. These services include police and fire protection, a public library, community and economic development, construction and maintenance of 132 miles of streets, stormwater and sanitary sewer systems and other infrastructure plus 867 acres of parkland and 17-plus miles of trails. Other recreational amenities operated by the City include the River Springs Water Park and the Brooktree Golf Course. The City also supports the Degner Regional Airport which serves as a gateway to Southern Minnesota. Water, gas and electric are operated by Owatonna Public Utilities.
Photo: Collage of pictures of services provided by the City
In 1974, the citizens of Owatonna voted 93% in favor of acquiring the former Minnesota State Public School campus to use for City government functions. The property is now known as the West Hills Complex. It houses the City Council Chambers and offices for administration, community development, engineering, and parks and recreation.
The Minnesota State Public School was built in 1885. The Steele County Historical Society operates a museum that chronicles the history of the State Public School. This museum is visited by hundreds of people annually.
The entire property sits on 74 acres and contains multiple historical buildings.
Photo: City Hall at West Hills Complex