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Even in the face of a difficult U.S. economy, the Rochester area’s business community remains strong. A steady increase in population within the Rochester MSA has resulted in the continual growth and diversification of the area’s labor force. It is estimated that the Rochester MSA has access to a labor pool of some 150,000 people. Rochester also benefits from the 45 two- and four-year institutions of higher learning located within a 90-mile radius. Students enrolled in any one of these colleges or universities often seek employment opportunities within this region post-graduation.

Service businesses reign supreme in the Rochester area, a sector anchored by the Mayo Clinic—the state’s largest employer, with more than 32,000 employees.

The service industry accounts for approximately 83 percent of the area’s employment. Hospitality is the second-largest industry, followed by agriculture, which is represented by 1,400 working farms in Olmsted County. Education, government, retail and manufacturing also have a significant impact in the local economy, as does the technology and bio-business industries.


Several well-known, technology-based businesses have chosen this Midwest region as their home, establishing Rochester as a major center for technology. IBM Rochester stands as the area’s second-largest employer and the state’s largest information technology employer. Rochester was chosen as the site for a new manufacturing, engineering and educational complex in 1956. Today, the location’s employee base has grown to 4,400 and its size to 3.6 million square feet, making it the largest IBM facility under one contiguous roof.


The main mission of IBM Rochester is to develop, manufacture and support IBM eServer business computers. Site employees also participate in software development for a number of IBM products and are currently building a 10-petaflop supercomputer nicknamed Mira, which is poised to be the world’s fastest by more than four times that of a 2.5 petaflop machine built in China. IBM Rochester continues its innovation streak, garnering the most U.S. patents of any company across the globe.

In addition to IBM, Rochester also hosts Benchmark Electronics, Inc., an electronics manufacturing services provider; Kardia Health Systems, a medical software and service provider; and Metafile Information Systems Inc., a developer of management software applications.


With the presence of the Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, the University of Minnesota Rochester’s Hormel Institute, IBM’s Life Sciences Research and Development Lab and others, biobusiness is an industry poised for significant growth in Rochester. The Minnesota BioBusiness Center, an initiative of the City of Rochester’s Economic Development Authority, has a mission to draw new biotechnology and medical jobs to Minnesota and the City of Rochester. The modern downtown-based facility was completed in early spring 2009 and is anchored by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research’s Office of Intellectual Property.

The presence of Mayo Clinic, IBM, the University of Minnesota Rochester, the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, the Hormel Institute, the Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center, the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA), the Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology Program, and the Minnesota BioBusiness Center, places Rochester in a position to become the premiere world destination for individualized medicine. Researchers at Mayo Clinic are delving into how the tiny differences that makes us unique can affect and ultimately improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Rochester's asset base is comprised of world-renowned companies and institutions that collaborate and partner to develop and sustain a culture of innovation that produces new processes, medicines, therapies, devices and approaches that improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases on an individualized basis.

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