IBM employment a topic of concern in Rochester leadership

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ROCHESTER, MN — IBM is one of the largest employers in southern Minnesota, but they have been announcing layoffs this year, most recently in mid-June.

It is causing enough concern that questions are being raised about the company’s future in Rochester.

Each year leaders from the Rochester area meet in Red Wing before boarding a river cruise. They call it “Cruising with Local Leaders.” It is a chance for locals to give feedback to our area’s leaders.

“Local government is only as good as the input that we receive. It helps us do our job far better. So this is just another opportunity, another forum to hear from a variety of individuals from the community,” said Rochester City Council President, Randy Staver.

Among the concerns they heard at this event were questions about IBM’s future in Rochester.

“They’re as important to our community as any of the other hundreds of businesses and companies in our city. We do hear things and we don’t know anything more than what we hear on the street, but we really want to make the point that they are important to our community and we are willing to listen and reach out and hopefully we can help one another,” Staver said.

While some may be concerned about some of the recently reported layoffs this year, others say it is changing times for the company.

“When you look at the overall strength and position of IBM, it’s as strong as it’s ever been. If you look at their labor count internationally, it’s as strong as it’s ever been. Clearly their product mix has changed and it has also changed for the site in Rochester,” said John Wade, President of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

For Wade and the Chamber of Commerce, they do not see IBM going anywhere soon.

“We believe that IBM will continue to have a presence in this marketplace. We also don’t necessarily think that they will have a thousand employees again in the near future or in the foreseeable future,” Wade said.

With that in mind, the city council does not want to take any chances.

“We’ve reached out and we have a couple of meetings set up just to exchange information and hear what some of the thoughts are from IBM’s perspective and just have some dialogue and see if we can offer some ideas,” Staver said.

Besides IBM questions, area leaders also fielded comments and concerns about the city’s budget planning that will be taking place later this year.

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