Job growth and quality of life highlight the city's increasing appeal
The welcome mat is out and the help wanted signs are up in Rochester. The city is experiencing a surge of job growth, with projections of 25,000 to 35,000 new openings over the next two decades in a variety of industries, led by health care, hospitality, construction and manufacturing. Much of this growth is being propelled by Destination Medical Center a $6.5-billion, 20-year economic initiative designed to transform Rochester into a global destination for health and wellness.
These new employees will discover that Rochester’s charms extend well beyond the 9-to-5 work week. This is also a terrific city to live in, regularly ranking in the top-10 of the annual Livability.com Top 100 Best Places to Live list (coming in at No. 9 this year).
Community leaders have been working to attract people from outside the market – whether it’s workforce, corporations, businesses, researchers – to come to Rochester and be part of its atmosphere of innovation and collaboration.
Rochester scored well in all seven categories used to determine Livability.com’s Top 100. It should be no surprise that health issues top the list, considering the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, which was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the nation’s top hospital. There are more than 180 primary care physicians in Rochester for every 100,000 residents, the highest ratio in the U.S. This attention to health care has enabled Rochester to have one of the top life-expectancy rates and lowest obesity rates in the nation.
The city also scored well in education (44 percent of the residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher), social/civic capital (low crime rate, plus hundreds of volunteer and charitable opportunities), amenities (more than 70 dining options in downtown alone, along with theater productions, symphony concerts and community festivals), economy, housing, demographics (wide diversity in age, race and nationality) and infrastructure.
“There is an energy here in Rochester, because of the engagement of the community to all things related to the growth of the city,â€ said Chris Schad, DMC’s director of business development. “It’s a great place to have a career, and a great place to raise a family.”
Destination Medical Center
DMC is the largest economic-development initiative in Minnesota history, combining city, state and county funds with spending from the Mayo Clinic and private partners. Construction cranes have become part of the Rochester skyline, with work taking place to enhance public spaces, expand business opportunities and improve the city’s transportation options.
“DMC provides the funding to reimagine what downtown Rochester can be like,â€ Schad said. “It gives us an opportunity to take an intentional approach to how we grow the city. It’s very exciting. We’re seeing the plan working every day, with new projects and new people coming here.”
Initial changes are taking place in the heart of downtown, including enhancements to the Peace Plaza public space and a renovation of the historic Chateau Theatre. Meanwhile, the new Discovery Square health care technology complex is being constructed on the edge of the Mayo Clinic campus, with the first companies scheduled to move in by the end of 2019.
And with all these new workers flocking to Rochester, the city also is using DMC to upgrade the transportation system.
“A lot of time and energy is going into understanding what are the better ways to move people around our city,â€ Schad said. “We want to make it easier for mass transit, bikes and pedestrians.”
Despite having a population of less than 115,000, Rochester receives more than 3 million visitors each year, primarily because of the Mayo Clinic. So even though improvements to the city are being made, Rochester has long had ample amenities that appeal to both locals and tourists alike, from hiking at the Quarry Hill Nature Center to taking a downtown trolley tour to catching a local production at the Rochester Civic Theatre Company.
What is evident here is a collective understanding that being a city that is great to visit also makes it a great place to live, from a campus-like downtown with excellent connectivity and many shopping and dining options to the pervasive spirit of caring and hospitality among its people.