In 1956 IBM decided to come to Rochester MN. IBM looked at nearly 80 mid-size cities in a dozen Midwest states for the plant site, and Rochester and Madison, Wis., were the two finalists. The day of the announcement, IBM President Thomas J. Watson said he was delighted Rochester was chosen because he had flown during World War II with Col. Leland Fiegel of Rochester, who was a personal friend. (see Post Bulletin, IBM Rochester at 50). Fiegel with Watson went to Moscow in 1942 on secret mission as a pilots, and become friends. Later, when Watson had to decide between Madison WI and Rochester MN, he went for Rochester to honor his friend (see Why did IBM come to Rochester?).
Rochester IBM Alumni News brings more about IBM presence in Rochester.
Update about IBM Rochester 56 years later by Jeff Kiger: “IBM of 1956 is much different from IBM today”, see http://postbulletin.com/news/stories/display.php?id=1499244