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Editorial: MCROC opening is a vital addition, MinnWest Tech gets a great partner

"Folks, this is a big deal."

-- U of M Regent Dean Johnson

The official opening of the University of Minnesota's new Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center on the MinnWest Technology Campus is a significant development for Willmar and west central Minnesota.

As University of Minnesota Regent Dean Johnson said Tuesday, "Folks, this is a big deal."

"This is truly just the beginning," said U of M President Eric Kaler said.

How right they are!

The center, referred to as MCROC, significantly expands the university's presence in Willmar and west central Minnesota. The center adds a significant knowledge base to the campus and the community.

The MCROC focus includes educating future workforce, fostering research and innovation, promoting economic development and expanding the university's engagement within Willmar and west central Minnesota.

The facility includes a leading-edge avian research center for studying poultry diseases in turkeys and chickens, from the egg to maturity. This is a great development for the region's poultry producers and processors.

The facility will also have partnerships with the university's Twin Cities campus, the University of Minnesota-Morris, St. Cloud State University, Southwest State University in Marshall and Ridgewater College here in Willmar.

MCROC is an outstanding result of a new public-private partnership between the university and the MinnWest Technology Campus. This strategic partnership brings new employees, payroll and capabilities to the campus and the Willmar community.

The MinnWest Technology Campus has come a long way since early June 2005 when then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty and then-Senate Majority Leader Johnson came to town to announce the sale of the then-Regional Treatment Center to the Willmar-based company LifeScience Innovations.

Today the MinnWest Technology Campus houses more than 20 companies with nearly 300 employees. MCROC's opening just builds upon the business, research and education environment on the campus.

MCROC and the MinnWest Technology Campus are already a key part of the Willmar community and its economy. This impact will only grow in the future.

Yes, MCROC's opening is "a big deal" for the entire community and region.