March 21, 2023


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LOOKING AHEAD TO 2021: Leaders optimistic for local business in new year

Rochester had always managed to avoid the worst of past national recessions because of Mayo Clinic and the oft-repeated mantra of “people still get sick.” This year showed the downside of that with Mayo Clinic’s ICUs overflowing with COVID-19 patients and elective procedure patients being asked to or choosing to stay away.

But the COVID-19 vaccinations that started to be given in December seem to be a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

“If we can get a vaccine widely adopted, it seems the second half of 2021 could be a return to a strong economy,” predicted Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari at the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce’s virtual economic summit in December.

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John Wade, the interim president of the Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. and former president of the Rochester Area Chamber, sees a better trajectory of local business in the new year. He cited the unemployment rate for the Rochester area was 4.5 percent in the third quarter, below the state average.

“While the challenges facing our important hospitality sector remain significant into 2021, we remain hopeful that as COVID subsides, we will see improvement in the significant hospitality sector overall,” he wrote “… We remain optimistic about healthcare, manufacturing and technology related development to be three reasons for optimism going into 2021.”

Brooke Carlson, the president-elect of the Rochester City Council, looked to the creative strategies employed by businesses to stay afloat in 2020 as a ray of hope going into 2021.

“Many area businesses are struggling and need additional support. However, I am encouraged by innovative approaches like our local restaurants working with local food distributors to package their meals to be sold in area grocery stores,” she said. “These creative and beneficial partnerships will last long after the pandemic.”

Wade also said that businesses have already reached out to RAEDI with ideas to make 2021 a good year.

“In fact, we have been working with several businesses looking to either expand their base business or, on the entrepreneurial front, to raise capital to invest and grow in our dynamic area economy,” he said.