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No results found? A look into Rochester's Google office

In February 2021, Gov. Tim Walz, Mayor Kim Norton and Mayo Clinic executives welcomed Google's first Minnesota office to Rochester as a boost to “provide sustained economic opportunity not only for the Rochester area, but for our entire state.” Since then, not much has been seen of the office other than a Google sign.

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Since its ballyhooed announcement in February of last year, not much sign has been seen of Google's Rochester office other than a company sign.
Jeff Kiger / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER – More than a year ago, Google’s much-hyped opening of its first Minnesota office in Rochester was lauded as a boost to “provide sustained economic opportunity not only for the Rochester area, but for our entire state.”

Since that crowded Zoom announcement in February 2021 that included Gov. Tim Walz, Mayor Kim Norton and executives from Mayo Clinic, the only sign of Google’s office on the second floor of the Conley-Maass-Downs building at 14 Fourth St SW is a sign.

Of course, many offices have been quiet in the past year as the pandemic drove people to work remotely. However, Google is releasing very little information about the status of the Rochester office, so it is unknown if having people work remotely is why the Conley-Maass-Downs office is quiet.

Google’s Rochester site leader Chris Mueller described the office as “a big deal” and announced on the Feb. 18, 2021, Zoom call that “a handful of Googlers will be based there permanently. Those will be folks living and working in Rochester. Many people within Google are excited to move across the country for the opportunity to work with Mayo Clinic.”

However, his actions contradicted that assertion. Mueller left his job at Google in the 10 days after making that statement for a new gig in San Francisco, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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Ted Bauer, a former Rochester IBM employee who worked with the Watson computing system, is now the site leader for Google’s Med City office, according to Lora Lee Erickson of Google.

When asked about the status of the Rochester Google location, Erickson did confirm that it is open, However, she declined to say how many employees are assigned to it or any working in the physical location.

“We opened the Rochester office to Google employees in September 2021 to work from on a voluntary basis,” wrote Erickson. “... We aren't sharing the specific number of employees.”

Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, recently announced that it will require employees to work at least three days a week in many of its US, U.K. and Asia Pacific offices starting on April 4. However, that doesn’t seem to apply to the Minnesota location.

“The Rochester office is not beginning the hybrid work week on April 4, but employees can continue to come onsite on a voluntary basis as needed,” wrote Google’s Erickson.

It is unknown how much physical space the Google office occupies. It was described as moving into the Collider coworking center on the second floor of the Conley-Maass-Downs building. The Collider moved out and joined the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator to make way for Google. Google officials declined to say if it is leasing the full 3,000-square-foot space that the Collider formerly occupied.

Whether the office is active or not, Google’s long-term strategic partnership with Mayo Clinic is continuing with millions of "de-identified" patient records -- records from which patient identity information has been removed -- moving to the Google Cloud. The 10-year strategic partnership in the fall of 2019.

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7798 or jkiger@postbulletin.com.
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