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Journey to Growth Plan 5 Year Conclusion and Celebration

PlanScape Impact(s): Business Process ; Children & Youth ; Diversity and Inclusion ; Economic Development ; Education ; Governance/Public Policy ; Workforce Development ; Vision/Identity
Public Report on Journey to Growth Plan led by Journey to Growth Partnership
Last modified: December 10, 2019











Per PB Reporting: 



While the five-year timeline for the Journey to Growth initiative has wrapped up, the work of diversifying Southern Minnesota's economy continues. That was the core message of an event on Wednesday to celebrate the conclusion of the initiative and to look forward to what's next for the communities surrounding Rochester and the massive Destination Medical Center initiative.

Stewartville Mayor Jimmie-John King, who was skeptical of the project at the start, pointed out that the crowd included leaders from Stewartville, Byron, Chatfield, Oronoco and other Olmsted County cities. He said bringing everyone together was one of the great accomplishments of Journey to Growth.

"I look around this room ... in years I don't know if I'd see this many faces in one spot," King said. "Now, we're all on the same journey to make this region as great as it can possibly be."

"I have a hard time celebrating the end of something that was so good for our community," he added.

Sometimes called J2G, the regional initiative was spearheaded by Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

It focused on three key overall themes of expanding and diversifying the regional economy; optimizing regional talent and creating a cohesive region.

In addition to municipal leaders, the initiative brought together groups like Community & Economic Development Associates, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Southeast Minnesota Together, Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities and almost 300 regional volunteers.

While the organization had volunteer chairs to lead it, Heather Holmes managed the day-to-day efforts as project manager.

Mostly supported by donations from area businesses, the initiative was launched with funds from the Rochester local option sales tax.

Journey to Growth drove a variety efforts including:

* The $2 million Southeast Minnesota Capital Fund.

* Lobbying to expand the Highway 14 corridor.

* A series of industry roundtables and business tours.

* The $25 million Southeast Minnesota Diversification Loan Fund.

* The We Are More traveling photo exhibition

* Branding the region as "Venture Southeast Minnesota.

"John Wade, former Rochester Chamber of Commerce president, told the crowd that when everyone started talking about the Destination Medical Center initiative, he and others realized that the region around Rochester needed to find ways to complement the project as well as keep from being overshadowed by it.

"I believe the journey is more important than the destination," he said. "You can't make it work in Rochester without a great neighborhood. We are all dependent on each other."

RAEDI President Ryan Nolander took over the role of supporting the initiative following the retirement of Gary Smith, one of J2G's original drivers. He told folks gathered on Wednesday to not mourn for Journey to Growth."This isn't the end. This is the beginning of an even greater collaboration across the region," he said.







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  • For the commercial sector, we tend to register startup activities (new companies and new commercial projects) that bring diversification and high-impact opportunities to the area.
  • For the non-profit sector, we wish to shine light on all the organizations and services that otherwise labor under relative obscurity.
  • Our hope is that will encourage cross-sector collaborations and creative solutions.

While there are a number of registries in the community,'s  distinct value is to pilot a database with a data structure and categorizations that answer the questions such as: What organizations or projects/programs in our community that have purported relevance with some of the over-arching focuses put forward by initiatives such as DMC, J2G and Health Improvements?

This database could be used as one of the ways to explore the capacities of the community. If you are someone on an exploratory journey to learn about the greater Rochester community. could be an interesting first step.

The following defines the various project phases:
  1. Available - a product, program or service is in production
  2. Develop - program or application is being developed
  3. Plan - idea is solid, stakeholders are identified, and there is strong commitment to go forward from all parties.
  4. Concept Phase - idea scoped out with enough details to give an early sizing and/or to build a proof of concept
  5. Pre-concept Phase - an early idea or a requirement.
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