ROCHESTER, (AP) - The city of Rochester has long been the economic engine for southeast Minnesota, and these days it's sharing the wealth with the smaller towns around it.

Rochester is sharing part of its new sales tax with 17 nearby small towns. It's part of a legislative requirement set after voters approved extending the local sales tax last fall.

Rochester officials estimate 45,000 people commute from small communities around southeastern Minnesota to work in the big city each day. And they say improvements in the small towns can help attract people looking for a mix of rural and urban lifestyles.

For example, an estimated 60 percent of Stewartville residents work in Rochester. Stewartville will get about $633,000, which city administrator Bill Schimmel says is a huge boost.