Chris Schad is a driving force behind Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square. He directs business and economic development for the healthcare technology hub that is the cornerstone of the Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative. He works to recruit healthcare companies to Rochester and attract investment capital to the region. He is also passionate about growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester, a key to our community’s long-term success.
We spent some time with Chris to learn more about his priorities for Discovery Square and why he thinks Rochester is a hidden gem.
DMC: What path led you to your current role with the DMC Economic Development Agency?
Schad: I have worked in healthcare technology most of my career – primarily in the life sciences space. I started at the bench in genetics labs, moved into laboratory leadership roles, and then into a variety of administrative roles. Along the way, I developed some technology that was licensed out by Mayo Clinic, picked up a business degree, and got some experience in the business development world. When the first announcements about Discovery Square rolled out in 2016, the blend of healthcare-related science and innovation with business and economic development was intriguing to me. I was fortunate to land this role in early 2017.
DMC: What components of the DMC initiative do you focus on in your role?
Schad: The DMC office is relatively small, with a lot of work to be done in a wide variety of sectors, and we are all involved in nearly every initiative in some way. My main focus is on Discovery Square. We have established a seven-point strategy for Discovery Square that guides our work. Right now, most of the work within that framework focuses on attracting businesses to the sub-district, workforce development for those businesses, and finding ways to grow the startup culture and supporting ecosystem for entrepreneurs.
DMC: What excites you most about the future of DMC?
Schad: There is a lot to be excited about. The energy behind the changes that are happening is invigorating, and that energy is attractive to others outside of Rochester. We have an opportunity to position Rochester and the region for the coming decades. For me and the work I do, I am most excited about the new companies that are – and will be – coming into Rochester as part of Discovery Square. Those companies will diversify our economy, bringing with them new career opportunities for all of us already living here. Some of the businesses will be small, some very large, some will have international roots, and each will bring their own unique culture into Rochester. That entrepreneurial startup culture will be the key to our long-term success in Discovery Square.
DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?
Schad: We already know Rochester and the surrounding region are going to grow. With public support from the DMC legislation, we are able to take an intentional approach to that growth, to get out ahead of the curve to anticipate what will be needed and to attract the workforce we need for that growth in our region.
DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, or raising a family in America’s City for Health?
Schad: Come check us out. Do your homework and see what is happening. And then jump in and join us for the journey ahead.