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ROCHESTER, MN-Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently signed a $2.8 billion higher education bill into law here that could help this city develop a four-year university. Planning for a new higher education presence here will be aided by $3.2 million in funding, one of Pawlenty’s two priorities in the education bill.

An 11-member planning committee will be charged with bringing a blueprint to the legislature and new programs will be developed to meet the growing need for four-year and graduate-level programs in this rapidly growing community.

In his state-of-the-state address in January, Pawlenty had proposed establishing a four-year branch of the University of Minnesota in Rochester. Such a campus would help the towns two major employers–the Mayo Clinic and IBM–expand their pool of trained workers. Mayo recently said that it expects up to 40% of its workforce to retire in the next decade. Mayo employs some 28,100 workers in Minnesota, most of who live in Rochester. The plan, which will likely focus on the needs of Mayo and IBM, is due to legislators in January.

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