Poised for Growth in Rochester, MN
Workforce development and diversity initiatives aim to sustain new economic vision
To get an idea of how Limb Lab is fitting into the vision for Rochester’s future, all you have to do is take a long, hard look at the company.
A prosthetic and orthotic company that opened in August 2014, Limb Lab is located right in the hustle and bustle of downtown Rochester in a building whose front wall is made of glass. Passers-by can get a firsthand look at the type of work Limb Lab is doing.
“We wanted to have an opportunity to display what we do,” says Brandon Sampson, the company’s founder and owner. “People can look right inside our workspace and see us fabricating the limbs and custom braces. People walk by and are just curious.”
And just as the transparent exterior literally allows people a glimpse into Limb Lab’s production, its location on South Broadway also gives it plenty of exposure.
“I knew that when we started Limb Lab we wanted to be downtown,” Sampson says. “We wanted to be close to everything that was going on with the medical community and to be accessible.”
Destination Medical Center
Limb Lab is but one of many moving parts of Rochester’s medical community, which is fueling the growth of the city and will primarily shape its transformation in the next 20 years. To help manage that growth, the economic development initiative known as Destination Medical Center (DMC) was created to help secure Minnesota’s status as a global medical destination.
The longtime success of Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic depends on Rochester's ability to sustain quality access, development, service and public infrastructure. DMC’s goal is to ensure the continued growth relevant to health care and the many visitors, innovative new companies and other support services it brings.
As important as the medical industry is to Rochester, there is also an emphasis on strengthening other sectors that make up the region’s economy. To that end, business leaders have launched two initiatives that will complement the transformation.
Initiatives for Growth
The Journey to Growth (J2G) plan is a five-year strategy of Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce that will focus on creating a competitive environment for the growth of a wide range of the region’s employment sectors.
The Chamber has also launched the Supplier Diversity Initiative (SDI), which is designed to provide small businesses and minority-, woman- and veteran-owned enterprises in the area better access to economic opportunities.
One of the main goals of J2G is to strengthen the region’s workforce.
“We want to create the talent pipeline so that our workforce issues are addressed,” says Heather Holmes, vice president of marketing for RAEDI. “We can’t fill the jobs we have here. We need to get better at making sure those folks are being trained and finding those jobs and that they’re sticking around and not leaving.”
Paul Richardson, the chamber’s development director, says diversity is key to a stable economy.
“In order for us to have a strong and stable community, we have to include all aspects of that community,” he says. “So if you aren’t making sure that diverse businesses and the veteran- and woman-owned businesses are included in our economy and our supplier base, then it’s going to create instability.”