J2G is a five-year regional economic growth strategy aimed at growing and diversifying the regional economy. It is a partnership and platform aimed at engaging regional communities, businesses, and organizations in order to fulfill the realization of economic growth and diversification. Originally developed by Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, Journey to Growth has evolved with the addition of numerous investors and implementation partners.
Our area economy is currently 40% dependent on one industry and one business, healthcare and Mayo Clinic. While we fully support Destination Medical Center (DMC) and are committed to its success, doing nothing else makes us even more dependent and exposed to any future economic downturn in that industry. Leveraging the strengths of other cluster industries will benefit the overall economy as a whole. We believe the better strategy would be to not only work towards DMC’s success but to take advantage of the momentum created by this initiative to diversify our area’s economy. Diversifying the economy is in our collective interests.
The two plans complement one another. DMC is focused on taking the steps necessary to provide for Mayo’s continued growth. As a result, DMC will drive investment towards supporting the growth of our healthcare and related sectors, which are primarily located in downtown Rochester. J2G will primarily focus its strategy on growth of our manufacturing and food and dairy as well as computer design and production sectors. J2G will also work with DMC to grow tourism and diversify our healthcare sectors. Successful implementation of both plans will result in continued economic growth as well as diversification of our area economy.
We believe we will see the competitiveness of our workforce improve and the number of job opportunities increase. This will, in turn, allow us to attract and retain the diversity of talent needed to sustain long-term economic growth. Achieving this requires us to not only provide for Mayo’s continued growth, but for the growth of all our economic sectors. Further diversification insulates us from cyclical or sudden changes within one industry.
Successful implementation of the J2G plan will require partnership between dozens of area organizations as well as the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. Work groups around our goals, objectives, and strategies will be formed to assure success of the plan. Administratively, the J2G Partnership owns the J2G plan and is responsible for raising and allocating the financial resources of the plan. The J2G Partnership will be an autonomous organization but will have no staff of its own. The organization will contract with RAEDI, the Chamber, and others for the plan’s implementation. RAEDI, as the economic development organization, will be the lead agency providing the staffing resources needed to launch the effort.
Expected outcomes are measureable. They will include: job growth, percent employed in healthcare, unemployment rate, new capital investment, growth of tax base, population growth, reduction of poverty, increase in graduation rates, pre-school enrollment growth, growth in percent of adults with a BA degree or higher, growth of population ages 25-34, and positive net migration.
The consultant estimate is $737,103 per year over and above what RAEDI and the Chamber are spending today. One of the first decisions made by the J2G Partnership was how many dollars needed in order to successfully implement the plan. Overall, the estimate is $1.2 million for 5 years.
Funding sources come from both private and public sector entities. The majority of funds received are from businesses that have the most to gain or lose if our economy is growing or shrinking. These are: financial institutions, builders, realtors, and utilities. However, we have businesses of all kinds investing as well as communities within our region because the success of the plan allows them to compete for a share of a growing market versus an increasing share of a shrinking market.
A growing economy expands the market for all goods or services your business provides to consumers. Depending on the business you are in, you will have the opportunity to directly or indirectly benefit from the success of the plan. For example, if you are a builder, you may have the opportunity to bid on contracts to expand, renovate, or build new buildings. Home builders will have the opportunity to build new homes for employees of these businesses. Wholesalers and retailers will have the opportunity to sell their goods to these businesses and/or their employees. In the end, every business stands to benefit.
People volunteer and participate in a variety of ways by simply contacting the RAEDI office, visiting the contact us page on www.j2gmn.com or connecting with an existing Journey to Growth volunteer.
Whether recognized or not, communities compete for the business investment that creates economic growth. Our region is blessed with a relatively healthy and growing economy. Most of this growth comes from one industry and one business. It is important we capitalize on the momentum of DMC by investing the time and resources needed to diversify our economy throughout the J2G identified target sectors. Doing so will help assure residents of every community within the Journey to Growth footprint have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of economic growth and, simultaneously, reduce the risks associated with being dominated by one business/industry.
The plan involves multiple implementation partners from both private and public sectors throughout the region. The ten J2G Journey committees as well as the board of directors include regional representation. J2G leadership also has regularly scheduled implementation partner meetings throughout the year.
Ownership does not belong to any one group. Success has been dependent on engaging multiple partners and volunteers. RAEDI has assumed staff leadership and coordinates the role in strategies related to diversifying the economy while contracting with the J2G Partnership to provide these services. The Rochester Area Chamber Foundation provides leadership and coordination of strategies related to workforce development within the region and advocates for public policy, which encourages businesses to invest in our area.
Journey to Growth was selected because it is descriptive of our conscious effort to grow our area economy. In other words, two years from now, economically, we expect to be some place different than we were two years prior. A number of metrics have been identified that will be monitored on an annual basis. However, the program sunsets after five years, by design, to allow investors the opportunity to review and fully assess the plan’s impact on the area economy. Upon completion of this review, we will identify and make any changes deemed appropriate including them as part of the development and execution of a new five-year plan.
Journey is defined as an “act or instance of travel from one place to another.” The journey began in January 2015 with official launch of committees and work beginning November 2015. The prescribed end date is approximately December 31, 2019.
J2G is a regional five-year plan. Much time has been spent relationship building, inviting dozens of area communities, organizations, and hundreds of volunteers to join the effort to create a more cohesive and connected region. A concerted effort continues to be made to assure this awareness continues and all those within our region see themselves as part of the vision.
The targeted industries were selected, in part, because they were expected to grow over the five-year period. In addition, the operating characteristics of these industries align with the assets we have in our area making them good targets for our external marketing program. This does not mean we will be ignoring the industries or businesses already here. We are actively working to retain and grow these businesses as well.