Our View: Canceled meeting highlights issues

A graphic rendering of what the Heart of the City area may look like after redesign.

Last week's failed attempt to hold the year's first Destination Medical Center Corp. board meeting offered reminders beyond the fickleness of Minnesota weather and technology, which played roles in keeping the board from gathering in Rochester or via videoconference.

The most obvious reminder of the day was that the $6 billion DMC initiative, while overseen by a public board, will largely be funded by private dollars. Public investment, for infrastructure and operations, is expected to be limited to $585 million — $424 million from the state, $128 million from Rochester and $33 million from Olmsted County.

The primary goal of last week's meeting was to review a report of private investment for the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development before its April 1 deadline. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, the DMCC board's chairwoman, said she'd file the report and reschedule a board meeting for next month to review it.

The report shows positive growth with more than $152 million in local investment through 2015, which will need to grow to $200 million before earmarked state tax dollars are spent on DMC efforts.

Local investment is growing, and we know it will continue, eventually eclipsing the local public dollars already invested in the effort.


However, the other reminder from last week's canceled meeting is that the oversight board hasn't met since Dec. 17. At the time, Rochester City Council member Ed Hruska, who was attending his last meeting as a DMCC board member, said the gap seemed oddly timed. "We're supposed to be having so much going on and so many things happening, which it seems like we do," he said, questioning the window between the December and March meetings.

While Smith said the six planned meetings in 2016 are based on board deadlines, she noted joint meetings with the DMC Economic Development Agency board and the Rochester City Council could be added.

It was a suggestion we encouraged, especially with a three-month window between meetings. We noted that DMCC board member R.T. Rybak cited the need for collaboration. "If we get this right, in the next six months we will all know what our roles are and what our values are," he said during the December meeting.

Three of those six months have passed.

Monday's joint meeting between Rochester City Council and the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners showed us the value found when overlapping bodies discuss future goals. It can help make sure expectations are in line.

Local residents should expect as much from the multiple entities overseeing and managing the DMC effort. Joint meetings will build on continued transparency, as well as develop deeper understanding of individual roles and expectations.

While the majority of DMC funding will eventually be paid by Mayo Clinic and other private investors, the public money being spent means public discussions and understanding will remain a cornerstone of DMC's success.

We strongly encourage the DMCC board to not let the next three months pass without adding to its meeting schedule.

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