"You’re one of the luckiest mayors in America."

I’ve heard that sort of comment hundreds, if not thousands, of times during my 15 years as mayor of Rochester. It’s a unique blend of a big city atmosphere and small town friendliness, with a proud heritage of compassion.

Mayors I’ve met from other cities are especially envious of the fact that Rochester is the home to Mayo Clinic.

My response has always been the same: It’s true. Rochester is very fortunate that William Worrall Mayo chose to create his pioneering medical practice here in Rochester. But the growth of that fledging practice into an internationally acclaimed institution was far more than mere good fortune. It required visionary leaders – both inside and outside Mayo Clinic – who’ve helped keep this great institution at the top of medical science and patient care.

Just like Rochester’s history is intricately intertwined with Mayo Clinic’s, Mayo CEO and President Dr. John Noseworthy and the city have worked together with the support of our community to help put Mayo Clinic and Rochester on a dynamic path for the future.

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With the announcement of Dr. Noseworthy’s retirement last week, I wanted to share some reflections on our shared time as leaders in defining Rochester’s future.

From my perspective, Dr. Noseworthy’s mandate coming into the CEO’s office was unlike any shouldered by his predecessors. Gone were the days of, "If Mayo builds it, they will come." Health care has become more competitive than ever. Dr. Noseworthy and his leadership team also have had to navigate the shifting complexities of American health policy.

As Mayo’s successes have shown, Dr. Noseworthy was the right man for the times. Under his leadership, Mayo Clinic has strengthened its status as a leader in health care and achieved designation as the No. 1 hospital in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2016 and 2017.

But even as he became a highly visible thought leader on the American and international health care scene, Dr. Noseworthy his leadership team always stayed true to Mayo Clinic’s primary mission and put the needs of the patient first. That meant investing more in advanced medical research, expanding Mayo’s medical educational programs and embarking on innovative entrepreneurial partnerships.

By far, the largest of these projects is Destination Medical Center, a 20-year, $5.6 billion plan to transform downtown Rochester into a world-class center for health and wellness.

Together we worked with the governor and legislature to solidify the largest public-private economic initiative in Minnesota history. DMC will draw more patients, new business and more highly skilled workers to Rochester. We continue to partner on bringing this bold vision to reality.

Such a bold undertaking comes with significant challenges. One example: the downtown core already is crowded. We as a city must find better ways to get people to work. Mayo Clinic leadership is working shoulder-to-shoulder with us to find solutions, in this case by connecting city officials with experts such as transit consultants.

Rochester is reaping a variety of other early benefits from the DMC initiative: new housing options for residents, more hospitality businesses moving in, and an uptick in entrepreneurial start-ups. At a time when many regional cities and towns in rural regions are economically stagnant – or in decline – Rochester and southeast Minnesota are thriving. Indeed, Rochester consistently ranks among America’s top 10 most livable cities.

Would Rochester be the same city without Mayo Clinic? No! And I for one am ready to embrace what’s next.

Thank you, Dr. Noseworthy, for your vision and partnership with our great city with a heart.