Reasons for Optimism: DMC leaders talk about the vision for the future

With the newly unveiled mural Sol Flowers by local artist Jenna Whiting on display, the Rochester community gathered in a most unlikely spot for Destination Medical Center’s 2022 AnnualBand True North performing Meeting. At the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street Southeast, guests enjoyed music from local duo True North, food from The Duck Truck and Infuzn, and a perfect southeast Minnesota evening. DMC partner organizations lined the tunnel next to the railroad tracks, showcasing the myriad ideas and activities that make downtown Rochester a vibrant, welcoming environment.

The location may have seemed unusual at first – located next to three parking ramps and an undeveloped city block – but, as DMC Executive Director Patrick Seeb described, it’s at the nexus of several potential development sites, as well as a future extension of the Heart of the City, connecting Peace Plaza with the Mayo Civic Center and the Zumbro River. “That is the conversation we want to begin tonight is thinking about the future of this site, thinking about the public realm potential of 1st Street connecting the downtown to Mayo Civic Center,” said Seeb.

Reasons for Optimism

DMC EDA President Dr. Clark Otley spoke about the continued optimism for the future of DMC and Rochester. He pointed to the continued expansion of the Mayo Clinic Downtown campus with the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Building and Proton Beam facility expansion, as well as the completion of Two Discovery Square as reasons for enthusiasm. “When we think of facilities, we think about building world-class facilities for world-class doctors and researchers and nurses and technicians for patients from across the world who have the toughest diseases in the world,” stated Otley.

Dr. Otley shined a spotlight on another significant project. “Earlier this year, we opened up the Peace Plaza to a renewed, beautiful state,” he noted. “Those of you that made it down through the summer saw little kids stomping in water, families having fun… It’s a really beautiful space.” He also prefaced the excitement of Discovery Walk construction as it will connect Peace Plaza to Soldiers Field Memorial Park.

The Riverfront presents another area for optimism. “It’s going to be an opportunity to be a legacy for our community,” he continued. “DMC has been a very good partner with the City, the County, and lots of other agencies, to do a community discovery process to really get input. What does that mean for us? What can we make that space into really speaks to our vision as a community? A community that is focused on health and equity and diversity and sustainability moving forward.”

Capacity BuildingVendor speaking with attendee

Mayor Kim Norton spoke about the importance of ensuring all members of our community participate in the prosperity of the DMC initiative. “Not only are we designing and building the infrastructure necessary for Rochester’s successful growth,” Mayor Norton said, “we are also designing and building the systems necessary to ensure that how we build is just as important as what we build.”

Mayor Norton spoke about the goals that the City of Rochester and DMC share to make sure that women and minorities have opportunities to participate in publicly funded projects. She also spoke about the community co-design process which is an approach to encourage, compensate, and prioritize the inclusion of diverse populations throughout the design and development process. Community Co-Design has become a valued and effective community-centric approach to developing healthy and equitable projects, policies, and practices in the Rochester region. It has been used for projects like Discovery Walk, LINK Bus Rapid Transit, and Riverfront Small Area Plan development. Norton stated, “We use co-design to ensure that there would be inclusive, accessible, and welcoming spaces that encourage health and cultural belonging.”

Attention was also brought to collaborations with the local business community including the Business Forward strategy that has been employed on several recent construction projects like Heart of the City Phase I and Discovery Walk. Business Forward is meant to mitigate the impact of construction by prioritizing the needs of businesses and other stakeholders in the construction process.

The Main Street Economic Revitalization Grant Program was also highlighted. It is a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development designed to help our downtown businesses recover from the pandemic, as well as elevate opportunities for BIPOC, veteran, and disabled business and property owners. “To date, 30 organizations have been recommended for funding totaling over $1.6 million,” announced Mayor Norton. “These funds will help to leverage over $48 million in private investment into Rochester’s downtown. Our local businesses are the lifeblood of our community. We are eager to support them in whatever ways we can.”

Picture of DMC Leadership

Vision for the Future

DMC Corporation Chair Pam Wheelock pointed to the “persistence, resilience and spirit that is woven into the very fabric of this community” for an optimistic view of the future. She called attention to the way Rochester’s business community responded to the pandemic by pivoting to find new ways to safely reach their customers and to those that caught the entrepreneurial spirit and brought their ideas to life.

“The persistence, resilience, and community spirit already in evidence in Rochester bodes well for achieving Destination Medical Center’s vision of making Rochester America’s City for Health,” said Wheelock. “We are already attracting new investment from outside the area, including new commercial development and new life science and technology companies.”

She referenced the significant infrastructure improvements in the past and on the horizon, as well as a continued focus on community engagement as reasons why Rochester has a bright future. She also stressed the importance of telling Rochester’s story to the world as not only a destination for the world’s best medical care but also a great place to live, work and raise a family.

“On behalf of the Destination Medical Center Corporation’s board of directors, I want to express profound thanks and gratitude for the myriad partnerships and collaborations that have enabled the progress we have seen through DMC’s first years,” Wheelock avowed. “I firmly believe that what we have accomplished together so far grants us the right to think very boldly and optimistically about Rochester’s future and to fulfill our ambition to be America’s City for Health.”

Final Surprise

Patrick Seeb again took the stage to introduce the evening’s final speaker, one that was not on the agenda when the Annual Meeting was being planned. As part of the “leave behind” to continue bringing attention to the meeting space, a mural was painted on the blank wall of the Civic Center Ramp. There were many amazing artists that submitted ideas but none of them wMural on parking ramp wallere better than Jenna Whiting. “I would like to give the last words to Jenna Whiting to describe this piece of art that will now be permanently part of our community,” said Seeb. “Perhaps it will be an inspiration for how we can use other blank walls in our community, to start enlivening and connecting.”

Jenna Whiting was born and raised in Rochester, MN. As a self-taught artist, she specializes in mural work, digital design, children’s book illustrations, and acrylic painting. Her designs reflect a sense of whimsy and childlike wonder but are also balanced with simplistic and sophisticated methods.

Here is Jenna Whiting’s description of her piece in her own words. “My inspiration for Sol Flowers literally came out of thin air. As I was reaching for my drawing tools to sketch out some ideas, three sun prints I had recently created fell to my feet in a perfect layout. I’m pretty sure a beacon of light was shining somewhere. I immediately imagined the facade of this building covered in botanical images on a vivid cyan background. The images are inspired by native grasses and flowers growing throughout our city – which are just as captivating to see on the ground as they are five stories up.”

 

A perfect end to a perfect southeast Minnesota evening.

DMC Celebrates Community Co-Design Toolkit

Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency and the City of Rochester celebrated the culmination of over two years of work with the publication of the Community Co-Design Toolkit. It is a booklet of tools and tactics for “equitable community engagement and action”.Co-design booklets on a table

“This is a celebration of an approach that has been used to help create new places and programs, answer particularly difficult questions, and open up opportunities for many community members to participate in public decision-making processes,” said DMC Executive Director Patrick Seeb.

Ten local community co-design pilots have been completed over the last two years to help guide local projects. One of those pilots led to Rochester winning a $1 million grant as a 2021 Global Mayor’s Challenge Champion City. This project created a set of programs to address the challenges encountered by workplaces and members of the BIPOC community in the construction industry. It combined the experiences of industry, educators, and the experiences of BIPOC women to develop ideas to increase the chance of successful and meaningful employment.

Mayor Kim Norton added, “One of the reasons we were selected for this award was the use of the co-design process and forming solutions in collaboration with the community to increase their likelihood of success.”

Other co-design pilots include:

  • Discovery Walk
  • Channel One Food Bank
  • Greater Rochester Advocates for Universities & Colleges (GRAUC) Healthcare Simulation Center
  • 6th Street Bridge
  • Riverfront Reimagined
  • Link BRT Station Design
  • Senior Housing (with Rochester Area Foundation)
  • BIPOC Home Ownership (with Rochester Area Foundation)
  • Rochester Public Schools Students Belonging

What is Community Co-Design

Community Co-Design is an approach to encourage, compensate, and prioritize the inclusion of diverse populations throughout the design and development process. Community Co-Design hasFatuma Ahmed speaking at podium become a valued and effective community-centric approach to developing healthy and equitable projects, policies, and practices in the Rochester region.

This process was developed as an alternative to traditional engagement practices that limited participation and focused on short-term relationships. Co-design seeks to focus on challenges and the people impacted by them by prioritizing lived experiences and investing in long-term relationships, trust building, and networking.

The Community Co-Design Toolkit was authored by Jess Roberts (Culture of Health, LLC & University of Minnesota), Kevin Bright (DMC EDA & City of Rochester), and Wafa Elkhalifa (DMC EDA).

For more Co-Design information and resources, please contact DMC Equitable Development Coordinator Wafa Elkhalifa.

Community Co-Design Toolkit download

The Big Dig Event

Destination Medical Center, City of Rochester, Knutson Construction, and Rochester Mom invite community families to The Big Dig; a hands-on, family-friendly event to learn about the Discovery Walk project in downtown Rochester.

Kids will get a chance to play and dig in a giant pile of sand, explore construction equipment, and meet construction workers. Get to know the businesses in the construction zone and have some fun with activities such as a giant chalk mural, bubbles, music from the D’Sievers, and more.

This family-friendly event provides an opportunity to get up close with Discovery Walk and the people that are a part of the project. Discovery Walk, currently under construction, will be a new linear parkway along 2nd Avenue SW in downtown Rochester that will connect Soldiers Field Park to downtown Rochester and is set to be completed in late 2023.

“The Big Dig is an exciting opportunity for our community to have some hands-on fun while learning more about Discovery Walk,” says Jamie Rothe, Destination Medical Center’s Director of Community Engagement. “Our project team and the area businesses have a fun morning planned for all ages.”

The Big Dig is free and open to the public. Parking is also free and available in various places: the 3rd Street SW Parking ramp, street parking along 1st Avenue SW, and 4th Street SW.

Meet the Main Street Grant Navigators

Need help with your application for the Main Street Grant? Not sure if you qualify? Our navigators are dedicated professionals with the knowledge to assist you.

Logo for the Small Business Development Center

Small Business Development Center
Mark W. Thein
Address: 211 First Street SW, Suite 600
Phone: 507-738-1002
Email: [email protected]
Website: rochestersbdc.com
Hours of operation: 
M-F 8:00 am to 5 pm

The SBDC offers at no cost, confidential consulting to help businesses in SE Minnesota identify, understand and overcome the challenges of starting a business, running a successful business, and developing exit strategies. We provide the professional expertise and guidance that every small business owner needs to flourish in today’s competitive and ever-changing business world. We do not lend money to small businesses, however we work with the business owners and financial institutions to prepare documentation that lenders require for business loans.

SBDC’s mission is to represent the collective interest of our members by promoting, informing, supporting and continuously improving the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network, which delivers nationwide educational assistance to strengthen small/medium business management, thereby contributing to the growth of local, state and national economies.

Elocina
Tawonda Burks
Address: 1903 S Broadway, Rochester, MN 55904
Phone: 507-206-6344
Email: [email protected]
Website: elocina.com
Hours of operation:
M-F 9:00 am  – 7:00 pm
SAT – Appointment only 
SUN – CLOSED

We offer small business start-up consulting services that enable entrepreneurs to work with our business experts as we build key foundational business structures or products for you. This strengthens your business from the start and less assumptions are made for your business. At ELOCINA, we have the knowledge required for the specific task and we’re ready to help you start your small business.

Whether you are looking for consulting services to help you start, allowing us to create a powerful business or strategic plan, or seeking our assistance in helping you build your personal or business credit, we are here to assist you along the way.

Delalight Consulting LLC
Klark Alomassor
Phone: 507-319-7644
Email: [email protected]
Parle aussie Français

At DelaLight Consulting LLC, we collaborate with you through your entrepreneurial journey to build a sustainable business. We collaborate with you to make sure that your goals and objectives are met with strategic and innovative approach. We provide a comprehensive range of business solutions that are efficient. From finance to business our collaborative approach can transform your business and its operations. We are ready to partner with you to help ensure your success.

Collider
Amanda Leightner and Manasseh Kambaki
Address: 221 1st Ave SW, Suite 202, Rochester, MN 55902
Phone: 507-722-0306
Email: [email protected][email protected][email protected]
Website: collider.mn
Hours of operation: 
M-F 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Collider activates, connects, and empowers Rochester’s early-stage entrepreneurs and small businesses with 1:1 ecosystem navigation, education, space, and storytelling to help foster an inclusive, diverse, and healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem. We believe that entrepreneurship should be accessible to EVERYONE in Rochester.

We believe there should be zero barriers to entrepreneurship for everyone in Rochester with a great idea and a passion to see it grow.

About the Main Street Grant Program

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Main Street Economic Revitalization Grant Program

The City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center accepted an award of $3.12 million from the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) on October 14, 2021, as a part of their recently created Main Street Economic Revitalization Program. The grant dollars will be used to help central business districts rebuild and reposition themselves in the face of a substantially changing downtown economy. Rochester was one of eight communities receiving funding, with a total investment of approximately $40 million being invested across the state.

We at DMC have received many questions about the grant. Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Main Street Grant Program.

  1. What is the Main Street Economic Revitalization Grant Program?
    This is a state-funded initiative intended to provide no-cost grants for capital improvement projects in central business districts across the state.
    Projects that result in improvements to any permanent structure or other asset added to a property that adds to its value are eligible. Business operational expenses are not eligible. Applicants must also have other sources of funding to “match” any funds given by this program, details are below.
  2. Who may apply for funding?
    Any person or company planning to invest in eligible capital projects in the DMC development district (map below) may apply. Priority will be given to businesses and organizations that represent veteran, disabled, Black, Indigenous, or people of color whose projects will build wealth, create jobs, and stabilize communities along the corridors.
  3. What investments may be funded by the grant?
    Capital investments, such as:
    − Repair or renovation of real property, including expansions and additions
    − Demolition, site preparation, and building construction
    − Landscaping, streetscaping and related site amenities
    − Engineering, pre-design and design work
    − Infrastructure
  4. What are the primary objectives?
    – Revitalizing properties in the DMC district harmed by the events of the past two years.
    – Elevating opportunities for BIPOC, veteran, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE), or disabled business and property owners.
    – Creating and retaining permanent jobs.
    – Enabling existing businesses to strengthen and diversify their products and services.
  5. Are funds available for projects already completed?
    No, these funds are only available for new projects as described in your application.
  6. What if I have already started the project?
    The funds can’t be used for work already in progress. However, the funds can be used for work that has not yet been started. The work yet-to-be-done would need to be described in your application.
  7. What investments may NOT be funded by the grant?
    The purchase of real estate is not eligible, nor are business operations or business operating expenses, such as inventory, wages, or working capital.
  8. How much is the DMC EDA’s grant award?
    The DMC EDA will be distributing up to $3 million in grants with a maximum of $750,000 per award. These grant awards can cover up to 30% of the project cost. The remaining funds must come from other sources.
    For example:
          a. A $100,000 capital project can be awarded up to $30,000 in Main Street Grant funds. The remaining balance must be funded through other sources.
  9. What can be used for the matching funds?
    Loans, equity, and local government funding not derived from state or federal sources can be used for the match.
  10. When can interested applicants apply for funding?
    The DMC EDA intends to begin accepting applications no later than May 2022. DEED requires all funds to be awarded no later than Dec 31, 2024, and the projects must be completed by Dec 31, 2026. If you have a project that might qualify, we encourage you to contact [email protected] to set up a call for more information.
  11. What is the application process?
    DEED has designated the DMC EDA to develop a customized application process for projects in Rochester. The DMC EDA is engaging local stakeholders, and will utilize a community co-design team, to develop an accessible application and review process. The details of this application process will be forthcoming as the design of the application gets developed.
  12. What details will be finalized in the coming weeks and months?
    A) Identifying community co-designers that will help the DMC EDA:

    • Build the application and review process
    • Engage outreach and communication partners
    • Identify resources that DMC EDA can make available to applicants

    B) Building and publishing a webpage
    C) Begin reviewing applications
    D) Issuing grant awards

  13. Who is providing the grant funding?
    Funding is provided by the State of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED).
  14. Why did the State of Minnesota initiate this program?
    The grant program is intended to help central business districts physically rebuild and reposition themselves in the face of a substantially changing downtown economy.
  15. Who is administering the grant program in Rochester?
    The Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA), a private non-profit corporation located in downtown Rochester, MN. The DMC EDA applied for and secured the grant award with the support of the City of Rochester.
    Eligible projects must be within the DMC District boundaries (map above).

Rochester Awarded 3 Million Dollar Main Street Grant from Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development

211014_MSERG Round 1 Announcement

“Rowing in the Same Direction:” DMC leaders share reflections on progress, future plans at Annual Meeting

DMC EDA Executive Director Patrick Seeb

Bookended by immersive riverfront experiences, the commentary at the 2021 DMC annual meeting imbued audience members with messages of civic pride, optimism, and hope for the future.

Speaking to the masked, socially-distanced group of stakeholders and community members were DMC Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) Executive Director Patrick Seeb, DMC EDA Board President Dr. Clark Otley, Rochester City Council President Brooke Carlson, and DMC Corporation (DMCC) Board Chair R.T. Rybak.

Seeb began the evening by voicing gratitude to those present, a conglomeration of representatives from all levels of government, neighborhood leaders, community organizations, businesses, and individual citizens. All of them, he joked, are “rowing in the same direction (if I can use a river metaphor) to build a stronger, more vital community that lives up to the authentic brand of America’s City for Health, America’s Med City.”

DMC’s Annual Meeting Provides a Walk Along the Future of the Riverfront

Rochester caught a glimpse of its potential future at the 2021 DMC annual meeting, thanks to a large-scale, interactive prototype of a reactivated Zumbro riverfront. In the late afternoon, information booths dotted the pathway between 4th Street SW and 2nd Street SW and sparked thoughtful, educational interactions between attendees and stakeholders from every facet of the community.

Everything from nature to transportation, from history to diversity, was up for discussion.

The Night Market Showcases Rochester’s diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem

 

On two separate nights this summer, Mayo Civic Center’s Riverfront Plaza was alight with paper lanterns, cheerful reunions, and healthy arrays of international foods and artisanal goods. That vibrance is a hallmark of the Night Market, an event founded by Tiffany Alexandria as a way to bring a bit of Asia to the Med City. The third and final Night Market for 2021 runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 18 at the Mayo Civic Center and Rochester Art Center.

Hyatt House Ribbon Cutting Marks Rochester Development Milestone

The recent Hyatt House ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a milestone for Rochester. The event heralded the completion of the city’s first Qualified Opportunity Zone project: a hotel of 172 apartment-style, long-stay suites designed to provide crucial comfort for patients traveling into the city.

“This is really a home away from home for people who need a place of comfort and safety,” said Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for Discovery Square. “People who are staying here become members of our community.”