This was a big week for Mayo Clinic, which means it was a Gonda-sized week for the Rochester area. When Mayo sneezes, the Rochester area gets cancer, and conversely, if something good happens to the World Famous, it's jackpot for Rochester.
It remains to be seen whether something good comes of Mayo's Destination Medical Center plan, as announced this week, but there's no doubt that Mayo has pushed a lot of chips into the middle of the table.
Dr. John Noseworthy, Mayo's CEO, wrapped up the week with an appearance Friday night on TPT's "Almanac," which is the Minnesota equivalent of the Sunday morning talk shows. An appearance is required on "Almanac" if you're talking about a major public issue that's headed into the Capitol meat grinder. I thought Noseworthy was effective and got his points across without arrogance or confusion. Reporters Mary Lahammer and Eric Eskola didn't background the issue before peppering him with questions, so unless viewers in Blackduck and Jasper have been reading the Post-Bulletin for the past four days, most were probably baffled.
Noseworthy had to more or less explain DMC as he went, which didn't seem fair. The first question(s) might have been, "Dr. Noseworthy, tell us in 120 seconds or less what Destination Medical Center is, how it would work and why it's important for Minnesota, not just for the clinic and Rochester?"
Frankly, Lahammer and Eskola may have let the doctor off the hook on that, because it's complicated. It doesn't boil down well to 120 seconds. I don't know that anyone can explain, in meaningful detail, how DMC would work, at this point. The ink is still wet on a lot of details. The mechanics of how the taxing and spending would occur, how it would or would not benefit the clinic's capital spending, how the $2 billion in private development would be generated, etc., is hard for Mayo officials to explain one-on-one, much less in a public setting.
The plan has a clearly Rochester-centric ring to it, despite all the emphasis on Mayo's number of employees and total revenues. And top Mayo officials haven't figured out yet how to describe it as important without coming off like Zygi Wilf in a lab coat.
So it may have been best that Lahammer and Eskola didn't ask for a crisp description of what it's about. They did ask a few excellent questions, including one that got at the veiled threat that Mayo could take its investment capital elsewhere, if DMC doesn't move forward.
Time will tell whether the announcement in the Governor's Reception Room was the best way to introduce DMC, or the right time, with details yet to be worked out and Dayton already mired in the details of his own tax plan. The TIF-type request that Mayo and Rochester/Olmsted are proposing -- the "ask" for extraordinary taxing and spending authority -- seems like an aggressive roll of the dice.
Regardless, because of the way the issue was framed this week, the clinic and the Rochester area now have an awful lot riding on how this turns out.