Letter: Why isn’t chamber speaking out?

Published 9:00 pm Monday, September 18, 2017

I have followed with interest the decision by Mayo Clinic Health System to move segments of the hospital from Albert Lea to Austin. I have been impressed by the citizens group that is working diligently to protest and battle this. As the chamber president from 1986 to 1994, I am shocked that the chamber board of directors has done nothing to voice its opposition to this economic loss to the city. During my tenure at the chamber, we, along with many community members, battled openings and closings of the packing plant and survived through the longest nurses strike in the history of the state at that time. The voice of business is important when it comes to economic development issues. So why is the chamber so silent?

There are 7,000 chambers in the nation, and they all have a diversified base. If the chamber isn’t willing to fight and struggle for economic development issues that could be counterproductive to the community’s efforts then what is the chamber for? I’m also impressed that the lieutenant governor is concerned about this move by Mayo Clinic Health System. I think every voice and many voices will be what will help change the course of the direction that Mayo has set. Has the chamber asked the membership what they thought? I’ve heard they have not. I can’t believe any business person in the city of Albert Lea would be excited that all of these departments and all of these jobs are going to Austin. It would diminish the number of jobs in the community, impact people who want to move to the community, impact your schools and most likely lower your property values — not your taxes. That will impact anyone who wants to sell their home or business. I would hope that the chamber would reconsider its silent position and step to the forefront along with many others on this issue.

Bob McCoy

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Altoona, Wisconsin