The city of Rochester in southeastern Minnesota is home to just 120,000 residents, but it draws upwards of one million visitors a year. Most of them come to seek medical care at the Mayo Clinic, which employs 34,000 people and anchors the city’s remarkably stable economy.
City leaders have a plan to double Rochester’s population over the next two decades. Ground is being broken on hotels, condo developments, and upscale facilities designed to draw patients and new residents alike. Developers from Abu Dhabi have begun work on the centerpiece of this activity: a million-square-foot mixed-use complex that will open onto the serpentine banks of the Zumbro River.
This unusual level of prosperity is a boon for job seekers, especially those with specialized training, but one segment of Rochester’s populace has been locked out of the economic boom: hundreds of adults who are immigrants or refugees, who didn’t graduate from high school, or who for some other reason lack basic job skills.