Coalition Building to Help a Community
The City of Rochester faced a real threat from the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E) Railroad’s plan to bring 1.5-mile-long coal trains through the city of Rochester, Minn., at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, 34 times a day. With few grade-separated crossings, traffic, including ambulances, would be delayed getting to the Mayo Clinic. The threat almost became a reality as DM&E closed in on a $2.3 billion loan guarantee from the Federal Railroad Administration. A coalition of the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayo Clinic retained members of the Velocity team to build a coalition opposed to the increase in railroad traffic.
The Velocity team organized the Rochester Coalition, which had members in 65 cities and three states from Winona to Wyoming, creating awareness on the rail safety issue and loan guarantee through strategic communication initiatives with the business and residential communities. The Rochester Coalition managed a strategic integrated public affairs campaign that included lobbying and public relations.
The efforts of the Rochester Coalition ultimately led to the denial of the $2.3 billion federal loan guarantee, effectively killing the project: Strong public opinion and political opposition influenced the Washington bureaucracy.