Austin City Council to back major Mayo Clinic expansion

Published 8:51 am Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Austin City Council will draft a letter of support for Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center plans after representatives from the DMC committee gave an overview of the plan to council members Monday night.

Though expansion officials said it’s uncertain how exactly a proposed $5.6 billion plan to expand Mayo facilities in Rochester would benefit Austin, they said the huge amount of growth outlined over the next 20 years would mean more opportunity in the region, more businesses could potentially start here, and thousands of new jobs in southern Minnesota.

“We’re going to see a ripple effect from Rochester to surrounding communities,” said Karen Trewin, Mayo Clinic spokeswoman.

Expansion officials say increased global competition among health care providers has spurred Mayo to innovate the concept of a destination medical center, where patients come to receive the highest quality health care amid plenty of tourist attractions. To that end, Mayo officials unveiled the expansion plan earlier this year to garner state aid for public infrastructure-related costs.

Mayo officials originally asked for $500 million from the state over 20 years, but legislators initially balked at the cost. Under expansion plans in both the state House of Representatives and Senate tax bills, Mayo would receive at least $400 million in funding, with the Senate bill offering more money as soon as private investors step forward to help. Mayo has already promised to spend more than $3 billion.

Representatives told council members the plan would increase Mayo Clinic’s $9 billion or so contributions to Minnesota’s economy by another $2.5 to $3 billion in tax revenue.

The council voted unanimously to draft a letter of support for the project as legislators consider various tax policies in a joint committee over the next two weeks.