Rochester planners breathed a sigh of relief Thursday as the State Legislature fixed $6 billion worth of fuzzy language in the legislation that greenlighted the massive Destination Medical Center project.
The fix sailed through the House last week and passed the Senate unanimously today as part of a tax conformity bill that brings other quirks in the Minnesota tax code in line with new federal tax breaks.
It also clears up language in the 2013 legislation that committed the state to steer half a billion in tax breaks to downtown Rochester's massive $6 billion redevelopment project. A mistaken multiplier would have blocked the project from access to the full tax breaks until $12 billion in private investment had gone into the project — double the $6 billion lawmakers had intended.
A relieved Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede issued a joint statement with Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who chairs the board that oversees the project.
“The Destination Medical Center Corporation Board and City of Rochester would like to express our appreciation to Minnesota legislators for quickly addressing the Destination Medical Center (DMC) financing technical fix," the Thursday statement said. "The speed with which this legislation has moved through the House and Senate with bipartisan support is a testament to the belief in the DMC vision, and its ability to generate economic growth and jobs for all of Minnesota. This technical fix removes a cloud of uncertainty at a critical juncture for this ambitious initiative.
“Destination Medical Center represents the largest economic development opportunity in Minnesota and will significantly expand Rochester and Minnesota’s economic base with new businesses, thousands of news jobs and millions of dollars in additional tax revenue. We are excited to advance our vision of Minnesota as a truly global destination for healing and wellness.”
Mayo Clinic had lobbied hard for state support for the project, warning that it will be hard to recruit top talent to snowy Minnesota without massive investments in the clinic itself and the community it calls home.
Mayo has pledged $3.5 billion of its own money to the project, and promised to bring in another $2 billion in private investment to turn Rochester into a destination in its own right, full of gleaming new shops, restaurants, hotels and cultural amenities designed to attract patients, doctors alike.
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