Let Fairview catch up

It’s early; we share the Governor’s interest in bolstering Fairview.

During a campus visit, Gov. Mark Dayton and two of his staff members met with the editorial board in early January to discuss higher education funding, the state­wide achievement gap and several other top­ics.

Among these was the governor’s strong in­terest in growing the medical school and the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fair­view.

In the interview and a follow-up call with Dayton’s press secretary Wednesday, the gov­ernor’s plans for the hospital were vague. He’s looking to present the idea of expanding Fair­view to the state Legislature in 2015 after an exploratory period, perhaps with a task force.

Dayton cited the Mayo Clinic’s mas­sive Destination Medical Center initiative, a 20-year, $5.6 billion endeavor that’s costing the state hundreds of millions and transforming the city of Rochester.

Dayton discussed the economic benefits of this kind of project. New jobs, Mayo’s existing pedigree, the state’s well-established medi­cal devices industry, and University research could converge at Fairview, he said.

“So what can the state do to help encourage that, to accelerate the development of it?” he said. “[That’s] the kind of forward thinking we should be engaged in.”

The editorial board has supported using state dollars to aid Mayo’s expansion to keep the clinic competitive and benefit the Univer­sity’s Rochester campus.

It’s unclear if Dayton’s plans are nearly as ambitious as Mayo’s. But any increased state support at Fairview will help the University, which is looking to strengthen ties with the teaching hospital after talks of merging with University or South Dakota-based Sanford health both stalled last year.

While it’s still very early, we’re pleased with Dayton’s resolve to support Fairview. The Uni­versity should be cautious but optimistic about a proposal taking shape this year.