Run From DMC?

Can a shadowy group throw a wrench into Rochester’s $6 billion plan?

Run From DMC?

Nearly three years ago, the Minnesota Legislature approved kicking in $585 million in state money for the Destination Medical Center in Rochester, billed as a $6 billion, 20-year plan to overhaul and transform the city into a global attraction, anchored by the Mayo Clinic.

But a group called the Coalition Against the DMC held its first meeting in December, at a VFW post. According to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, the group tried to bar the media from the meeting.

The paper’s managing editor, Jay Furst, took umbrage and showed up anyway. According to Furst’s account, one person at the meeting “expressed concern about Mayo and other powerful interests’ reaction to anyone who opposes DMC.” Twin Cities Business could not reach a representative of the coalition for comment.

Diana Friemann, one of the organizers identified by the Post-Bulletin, posted an online comment to the website of Finance & Commerce in 2014 denouncing the project as “a complete waste of tax dollars.”

The group’s calls to hold the Mayo seem to remain under the radar, however.

“That group that’s opposed to DMC? As far as I can tell it’s about 10 people that are generally opposed to everything,” says Michael Wojcik, a Rochester City Council member.

There is anecdotal business grumbling about steep property tax increases for owners of commercial property in downtown Rochester, says Wojcik, but he calls it a function of the city’s current economic growth, not DMC plans.

“Property taxes are a concern,” says Wojcik. “I think it’s a little bit unfair to associate [that] with DMC.”

DMC leaders argue that the project continues to have wide support.

“DMC has enjoyed broad support, from conservative to liberal points of view, business to labor, and leaders throughout the state,” says Lisa Clarke, executive director of the DMC Economic Development Agency. “We have been meeting with hundreds of groups over the last two years, and we welcome all voices and continue to learn from every group.”

—Burl Gilyard

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