Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and Rochester Public Schools develop workforce

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(ABC 6 News) – For the first time, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce held an event combining business leaders with local government entities. Everyone in attendance had the common goal of developing Rochester into a place where people want to live long-term.

Rochester Public Schools was a part of the roundup and said that development starts with educating our kids.

"Part of our job is to prepare kids for their future and their future for almost every child is going to involve work," said RPS board chair Dr. Jean Marvin.

Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel spoke of a crisis of purpose among students in Rochester.

"According to one recent national study, only 24 percent of American high school seniors can articulate any purpose for their lives," Pekel said.

Connecting students with business leaders may be a way to help them find that purpose.

"We have professionals who are mentoring individual students, who are guest speakers, we’re increasing partnerships with them all the time," Marvin said.

The school system is working on a strategic plan that will reach the school board next month. Business leaders are giving feedback on the plan to create more driven students.

"We don’t yet have a strategy in which every kid starting in middle school is exposed to the economy and society in which they’re going to live their lives," said Pekel.

"It has to be relevant for this community. It has to be what our students need here," Marvin added.

Other partners at the event included Olmsted County, The City of Rochester, and Rochester Parks and Recreation. Each entity went over its strategic plan, with the hopes of keeping business leaders informed and involved in the process.

The Chamber of Commerce’s goal was to allow businesses to provide feedback to the public groups they work with and to make Rochester’s economy thrive. Business leaders also seemed interested in city and county infrastructure projects, like making a dangerous stretch of highway 14 safer, and updating our waste to energy system.

The chamber hopes to make this event annual.