J2G economic initiative gains altitude

Work on the Journey to Growth economic initiative is fully underway.

Committee chairs for J2G reported their progress at the organization's second quarterly meeting at Byron High School this morning.

"There there will come a time later when we'll look back and say, 'I was part of that,'" said J2G Chair John Wade of the impact he anticipates from this.

J2G is a new local five-year initiative spearheaded by Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce. It has three key overall themes of expanding and diversifying the regional economy; optimizing the regional talent and creating a cohesive region.

It originally was launched to diversify the regional economy beyond health care and strengthen the eight counties that surround Rochester. However, it was hinted at this morning that a ninth county might be joining the effort soon.


• Entrepreneurship Committee:Co-Chair Al Berning told the group that his committee, co-chaired by Mayo Clinic's Jim Rogers, has a fun job being on the ground floor of "unprecedented growth" due largely to the Destination Medical Center push.

"The good news is that it's scoped out, in play and doable," he said.

However, the committee is working on giving local entrepreneurs the tools they need to take advantage of this explosion of growth.

"The lifeblood is capital," he said, which entrepreneurs use to get their start-ups through "the valley of death" on their way to market.

To help with that, the J2G committee plans to launch a Rochester Angel Capital Group before the end of the year to create a stream of local investment to sustain new companies that want to grow here.

• Talent Retention Committee:Co-chair Tessa Leung reported that her group is making headway.

It has created a prototype "high touch, high level" hiring program to help with the issues related to spouses who come to the community when their significant others are interviewed or hired to work in the area.

"One thing we have found is not to use the term trailing spouses," she said.


The committee also is working with a group of young professionals. It has combined its efforts on talent attraction and retaining local graduates, as they are so closely related.

• Early Childhood Committee:Co-chair Jerome Ferson reported that his committee is trying to understand the issues that the area faces.

To do that, they are creating a survey to map out the early childhood assets in the region with a goal of sending them out early this fall.

"When we get the surveys back, we'll evaluate the gaps, then develop action plans," he said.

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