Rochester leaders swarm over State Capitol trying to influence lawmakers

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — Minnesota state legislators got a big dose of the Med City on Monday as about a hundred local business and government leaders took part in Rochester’s Day at the Capitol.

Organized by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, it’s an effort to get the city’s needs and wants directly to the people who make the big decisions in St. Paul.

This year’s messages were focused on a looming work force shortage for a booming Rochester metro area, with Mayo Clinic and Destination Medical Center driving the economic expansion.  It was an expansion that was launched by state legislative action in 2013, an effort led at the time by Sen. Dave Senjem (R) of Rochester and then-Rep. Kim Norton (DFL) of Rochester.  Norton is now Rochester’s Mayor and Senjem continues in prominent leadership roles including chairing the Senate’s Capital Investment Committee.

Once the three busloads of Rochester men and women arrived at the State Capitol on Monday, they had meetings scheduled much of the day with lawmakers.  There was also a rally in the Capitol Rotunda led by KTTC-TV’s Caitlin Alexander and Matt Benz.

This year’s big issue of concern for Rochester: a work force shortage for the Med City’s expansion.  The things that lead to workforce problems are a lack of affordable housing, a lack of child care, and not enough labor force training.

“Today we’re really focused on workforce development, and we think that housing, child care, transportation and training are critical issues to have a strong work force, which is imperative for our region,” said Kathleen Harrington, Rochester Area Chamber President.  The chamber leadership was also pushing its positions on tax and minimum wage policies.

Monday afternoon, Governor Walz met with the Rochester delegation to hear from them first-hand.  More than a hundred people were part of the group attempting to influence the Governor and lawmakers.

“Tere are people that are in high school here, this is my first time here, and again just to see all the wide variety of experience, it just to bring to diversify the representation of Rochester,” said Katie Wymer, one of the younger members of the Rochester group.

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom joined the KTTC-TV staff as News Director in February, 2008. He's a native Minnesotan, having grown up on a farm near Litchfield, and also spending a lot of time on Lake Vermilion near Tower-Soudan, where his grandfather Gust Saari worked in the Soudan Underground Mine. After studying journalism at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Noel worked as a reporter, anchor, producer and Executive Producer at television stations in Duluth, Little Rock, Buffalo, Louisville and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Noel was the News Director at WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo for seven of his 18 years at the CBS affiliate before returning to Minnesota. He and his wife Cindy have two grown children and make their home in Rochester. Email Noel at nsederstrom@kttc.com

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