WASHINGTON -- St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is talking up the city's paid leave policy at the White House Friday -- an idea generating popularity nationally and touted by President Barack Obama in this week's State of the Union address.

St. Paul started giving opportunities for its 2,700 employees to take paid paternity as of Jan. 1. Non-birth parents get two weeks and birth parents get four weeks. St. Paul was among the first cities nationally to adopt the plan.

The policy will cost the city about $200,000 annually, though Coleman says he expects to make that back in retaining talented staffers amid the state's booming economy.

Coleman says it helps the city stay competitive with the private sector.

"Everyone says you should run government like a business," he said. "We'll never be able to offer the benefits that Google does ... but this helps."

On Tuesday's State of the Union address, Obama touted the plan.

"Today, we're the only advanced country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers ... And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I'll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own."

Coleman shares a panel with the mayors of Knoxville, Tenn and Atlanta, Georgia. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will also be there.

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