Tag: America’s City for Health

Five Questions with Virginia Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Rochester YMCA

Virginia Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Rochester YMCA

Every day, The Rochester YMCA works side-by-side with its neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.  As Executive Director of the Rochester YMCA, Virginia Kaczmarek knows that lasting personal and social changes comes about when we all work together.

DMC recently chatted with Kaczmarek, a 20-year employee with the YMCA and 5 months in her role as Executive Director of the Rochester YMCA, about some of her priorities and what path brought her to Rochester.

DMC: What path brought you to your current position with the Rochester YMCA?  

Kaczmarek: As a young single mother, the YMCA played an important support role in my life and since those days, I have always wanted to give to others the support I received when I most needed it. My fiancé grew up in Rochester and after spending the last 11 years in Northfield, MN (where we raised the needed funds to open a brand new Y in 2014) it was time for me to move on to a new adventure and challenge.

DMC: What are some of the top priorities for the organization in the coming year?

Kaczmarek: Partnerships, Partnerships, Partnerships.  In today’s world, community impact is most powerful when people, groups, organizations and businesses come together to meet the needs of our community.  

DMC: What do you feel sets Rochester apart from other cities?

Kaczmarek:  It is an amazing ”big/small town” with so many amazing people working together to make a positive impact on those around us.  There isn’t much complacency here and I love that.

DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?

Kaczmarek:  The DMC initiative provides amazing opportunities for growth and the YMCA is very proud to work together to make good things happen in our community.  

DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, and/or raising a family in America’s City for Health?

Kaczmarek: Reach out and ask questions. Connect with your neighbors.  There is an abundance of important opportunities to connect and share in the movement towards ensuring we all have a healthy opportunity to grow and thrive.

 

Business Innovation with an “Eye” on Improving Vision

If eyes are the window to the world, Timothy W. Olsen, M.D. is building high performance window frames. With a passion for restoring vision, the ophthalmologist set sights on developing and bringing to market a first-of-its-kind device for treating age-related macular degeneration. The synergies around the Destination Medical Center economic initiative and Mayo Clinic’s research and practice community prompted him to move his business and clinical/surgical practice from Atlanta to Rochester, Minnesota.

“The business environment is second to none. Mayo has made a statement through Destination Medical Center that it wants to be an innovation center for medical technology,” says Dr. Olsen.  “That combination of business, technology and connection to Medical Alley bio businesses in Minnesota makes this is a really good place to develop and commercialize medical devices.”

Destination Medical Center is a 20-year, multibillion dollar public-private partnership to position Rochester as a global destination for health care, biotechnology and life science discoveries. The money supports public infrastructure and does not go to Mayo Clinic. The convergence of entrepreneurship, medical expertise and regulatory support, Dr. Olsen says, is the perfect place for a successful product launch.

“Destination Medical Center is the City of Rochester, Olmsted County and the state of Minnesota. With those components, hopefully there will be private sector support as well as the opportunity for engaging with people involved in funding early stage start-up companies, including venture capital funding opportunities,” says Dr. Olsen.

A new device for age-related macular degeneration

Macular degeneration affects more than 3 million Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss for people over 50. There is no cure or treatment in the early stages. Patients with end-stage macular degeneration may be suitable for monthly eye injections, but that is expensive and inconvenient. The disease process usually progresses despite the injections.   

That’s where Dr. Olsen’s business comes in. His team is advancing research on a surgically implantable device, using a technology that was first conceived at the University of Minnesota and patented through Emory University. That device acts as a window or picture frame holding regenerative tissue in place to support the macula at the back of the eye, potentially reversing vision loss and preserving the function of the macula.  

The National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer grant for a one year, phase one feasibility study. The grant goes directly to Dr. Olsen’s company, located in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, with sub grant funding for pre-clinical research at Mayo.

“The goal of this research grant is to support scientists launching commercialization of a product rather than the researcher studying technology from an outside company, in an effort to speed the movement of a product from the research lab into the marketplace,” says Dr. Olsen.

New Energy Benchmarking Program Available to Rochester Businesses

At the close of 2018, Rochester, Minnesota was awarded the state’s first LEED Gold City designation by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in recognition of the City’s effort to achieve significant municipal sustainability and resiliency goals. Kevin Bright, energy and sustainability director for the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) and City of Rochester is excited for the next chapter, which includes a new voluntary energy benchmarking program for Rochester businesses.

The Rochester Energy Benchmarking Program provides a platform for Rochester business and building owners to track their energy use and identify ways to save money on utility bills.

“The creation of the benchmarking program is an important first step to help businesses identify ways to reduce their operating costs by saving energy,” says Bright.

On April 24, 2019, the Benchmarking program will host a training session for interested organizations at Rochester City Hall in Room 104 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. This session will help organizations create and efficiently complete a benchmarking profile which is the core of participation in the program.

Another educational resource for Rochester businesses and the public is the DMC EDA’s monthly sustainability series, now in its second year. The series, in partnership with the USGBC, is held the second Wednesday of each month at the Rochester Public Library from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. and is free to attend.

Five Questions with Nate O’Reilly, President, Southeastern Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council

The Southeastern Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council is comprised of 16 local skilled trades unions. The Council is dedicated to educating and training workers in the skilled trades that can provide stability of employment and economic security for organized construction workers in the Southeast Minnesota area. Nate O’Reilly, President of the Southeastern Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council, has been involved in the construction industry for more than 20 years in various roles and recently shared more about his career and the Council’s priorities.

DMC: What path brought you to your current position with the Southeastern Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council?

O’ReillyAfter High School and joining and serving in the Army Reserve, I began working in construction, and after a few years, I was exposed to and joined the Ironworkers. I worked several years as an Ironworker in many roles, from starting out as worker and welder in a crew to foreman, general foreman, and other leadership and project management roles. I became active with the Ironworkers Union and was appointed and then elected as Business Representative in 2014. I have served as Ironworker delegate to the Building Trades Council, elected by trade affiliates as V.P. of the Council in 2017, and elected as President in 2018.

DMC: What are some of the top priorities for the organization in the coming year?

O’Reilly:

  1. Continue working with stakeholders to expand opportunities for workers in the construction industry in Southeast Minnesota.
  2. Provide the education and training for the next generation of skilled craftspeople to meet the high and increasing demand in the construction market.
  3. Advocate for and support conditions and policies that ensure a level playing field for businesses and contractors that result in maximizing economic benefits to Southeast Minnesota and our state, including: prevailing wage, local hire, and female & minority inclusion.

DMC: What do you feel sets Rochester apart from other cities?

O’Reilly: Rochester and Southeast Minnesota have one of the best pools of potential workers possessing the drive and work ethic found anywhere.  The DMC initiative undertaken by the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, State of Minnesota, and Mayo Clinic is the largest public-private partnership in the state’s history and could serve as the model to be used throughout Minnesota and the rest of the nation.

DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?

O’Reilly: Positioning Rochester as the premier place in the world for health and wellness has ripple effects in all sectors of the economy throughout our region and will ensure economic prosperity and stability for generations to come.

DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, and/or raising a family in America’s City for Health?

O’Reilly: Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work and spend significant time in 44 different states. I am proud to have been to those places and some have great things to offer, but none, in my humble opinion, offer the entire package of the best place in America to work, live and raise a family as the Rochester, Minnesota area. And don’t let the cold winters scare you. We have fabulous changes of seasons and weather.

Press Release: Destination Medical Center Corporation Board Green Lights Mobility Hub Locations in Rochester

(Rochester, MN) Feb. 5, 2019 – The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board of Directors today approved a resolution supporting two preliminary mobility hub locations in Rochester, MN, and authorizing up to $400,000 in financial support for additional studies and engineering.

The two recommended mobility hub locations – approximately four miles apart – will be connected by bus rapid transit (BRT). This high-capacity circulator will transport commuters, community members, and visitors into and around downtown Rochester in a safe, reliable, and efficient manner.

“We have chosen sites for transit hubs, but our vision is they are mobility villages where people can live, possibly work and park for the day,” said DMCC Board Chair R.T. Rybak. “We don’t just want to build ramps. We want to build communities.”

In addition to the significant progress with the DMC transportation plan, nine private development projects, totaling more than $300 million, have planned openings in the DMC district in 2019. They include: Hilton hotel, First Avenue parking ramp, One Discovery Square, Urban on First apartments, Residence at Discovery Square apartments, Hotel Indigo (Holiday Inn renovation), Wells Fargo renovation, Chateau Theatre short-term use renovation and the Ronald McDonald House expansion.

“2019 is a remarkable year for Rochester, noted DMC Economic Development Agency Executive Director Lisa Clarke. “We are well on our way to achieving the DMC vision and creating a livable, sustainable and vibrant city.”

In his new role as Mayo Clinic President and CEO, Dr. Gianrico Farrugia (jan-REE-koh fa-ROO-jah), a 30-year veteran with Mayo Clinic, met with DMCC Board members and provided a few remarks.

“Mayo Clinic’s commitment to Rochester, the state of Minnesota and DMC is very strong,” said Farrugia. “Mayo has experienced significant growth over the last five years, and we expect even more economic growth and development going forward.”

Farrugia noted that Mayo Clinic will invest over $1 billion in Rochester facilities and equipment between now and 2021.

Following the board meeting, DMCC hosted a collaborative session with the Destination Medical Center EDA Board, Rochester City Council and Olmsted County Board of Commissioners.

About DMC

 

Destination Medical Center (DMC) is the largest public-private economic initiative in Minnesota’s history. The 20-year plan to transform Rochester into a global destination for health and wellness will attract developers, investors, startups, and entrepreneurs to live, work and play in America’s City for Health. For more information, visit dmc.mn.

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DMC EDA and Experience Rochester recognized at Explore Minnesota Conference

Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) has been awarded the “Marketing Partner of the Year,” presented by Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion agency at its annual conference in Saint Paul on February 5. DMC EDA was nominated by Experience Rochester.

The “Marketing Partner of the Year” award recognizes outstanding marketing or special projects executed by an individual business which enhances the overall visibility of a community and directly impacts visitor travel to the area.

In its nomination of DMC EDA, Experience Rochester noted:

The staff members of the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) work tirelessly to make Rochester, MN an exceptional place to work, live, and visit. Experience Rochester MN is nominating DMC EDA because of their dedication to always including Rochester’s 3.3 million annual visitors — many of whom are visiting Mayo Clinic — in their mission and vision for a vibrant, innovative community. A recognition of the importance of travel & tourism is integrated into everything the DMC EDA pursues.

The award judges felt this partnership is like no other; it’s an example of economic development at its finest. An innovative concept in an innovative destination.

“It’s a wonderful honor to receive this award,” said Lisa Clarke, DMC EDA executive director. “DMC is unwavering in its commitment to providing an exceptional experience for Rochester residents and visitors. We are proud to be a collaborator with Experience Rochester and many other organizations in promotion of this great destination.”

Experience Rochester also received some hardware at the conference, winning the “Special Projects” award for its website, minnesotasrochester.com.

“We’re honored to be recognized by our peers in the state tourism industry,” said Mary Gastner, Experience Rochester interim executive director. “Our website is the number one resource for visitors. Our partnership, with Simpleview, allowed us to focus on creating a data-driven and personalized website. The new site allows guests to easily find what they are searching for and inspires exploration of our locally-owned businesses and Only-in-Rochester experiences.”

 

Destination Medical Center Corporation Board Green Lights Mobility Hub Locations in Rochester

“Our vision is for mobility villages where people can live, possibly work, and park for the day,” ~ R.T. Rybak.

The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board of Directors at its February meeting, approved a resolution supporting two preliminary mobility hub locations in Rochester, MN, and authorizing up to $400,000 in financial support for additional studies and engineering.

The two recommended mobility hub locations – approximately four miles apart – will be connected by bus rapid transit (BRT). This high-capacity circulator will transport commuters, community members, and visitors into and around downtown Rochester in a safe, reliable, and efficient manner.

“We have chosen sites for transit hubs, but our vision is they are mobility villages where people can live, possibly work and park for the day,” said DMCC Board Chair R.T. Rybak. “We don’t just want to build ramps. We want to build communities.”

Proposed Mobility Hub Locations, Rochester, MN

In addition to the significant progress with the DMC transportation plan, nine private development projects, totaling more than $300 million, have planned openings in the DMC district in 2019. They include: Hilton hotel, First Avenue parking ramp, One Discovery Square, Urban on First apartments, Residence at Discovery Square apartments, Hotel Indigo (Holiday Inn renovation), Wells Fargo renovation, Chateau Theatre short-term use renovation, and the Ronald McDonald House expansion.  

“2019 is a remarkable year for Rochester, noted DMC Economic Development Agency Executive Director Lisa Clarke. “We are well on our way to achieving the DMC vision and creating a livable, sustainable and vibrant city.”

In his new role as Mayo Clinic President and CEO, Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, a 30-year veteran with Mayo Clinic, met with DMCC Board members and provided a few remarks.  

“Mayo Clinic’s commitment to Rochester, the state of Minnesota and DMC is very strong,” said Farrugia. “Mayo has experienced significant growth over the last five years, and we expect even more economic growth and development going forward.”

Farrugia noted that Mayo Clinic will invest over $1 billion in Rochester facilities and equipment between now and 2021.

Following the board meeting, DMCC hosted a collaborative session with the Destination Medical Center EDA Board, Rochester City Council and Olmsted County Board of Commissioners.

 

Design Thinking Links DMC and Minnesota State University, Mankato

The Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) and the Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) are recent recipients of a $10,000 economic development grant through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). These funds will be used to develop and implement a design thinking workshop in the Mankato area to spur innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.

The CIE is housed within the MNSU College of Business. The organization aims to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers in south-central Minnesota by providing entrepreneurial education, supporting student startups, and facilitating impactful student project work in the community.

The overall goal of the workshop is to increase the number of innovative projects submitted to the Big Ideas Challenge, a venture competition for current and recent Minnesota State University, Mankato students and to the DMC Assistive Tech Challenge, a competition to develop new products and services for persons with disabilities. The inaugural Assistive Tech Challenge debuted in November 2018 as a partnership between Destination Medical Center Discovery Square, The ARC Minnesota SE Region, and the disABILITY Mayo Clinic Employee Resource Group. Three MNSU teams submitted applications to the Challenge; two of the submissions were accepted into the competition.

“The founding of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship by the University College of Business was spurred by a variety of things, including a Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation report about the potential of this area and need for coordination and the types of things the Center now provides,” explains CIE Director, Dr. Yvonne Cariveau. 

Cariveau says students come to the CIE interested in entrepreneurship but sometimes cannot identify the next immediate step in development of their concepts. She hopes this design workshop will give her students tools to generate ideas and to act.

DMC EDA aims to expand the Assistive Tech Challenge to additional universities across the region. “This collaboration with the CIE serves as a critical pilot project to bring a quality design thinking workshop to the Mankato area and also functions as a test for future expansions of the workshop to other communities,” said Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for DMC Discovery Square.  “The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to provide a framework through which students can develop additional business ideas and eventual products.”

Cariveau and Schad both hope the workshops ultimately ignite interest in assistive tech and health care innovation, building strong connections between Rochester and Mankato’s entrepreneurs.

 

Historic Chateau Theatre Renovations Well Under Way

There is great excitement and passion in the Rochester community for the re-opening of the historic Chateau Theatre – currently under renovation and planned to open summer 2019.

The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board and Rochester City Council approved $1.1 million in DMC funding for this renovation. Indoor improvements are progressing, with roof repair planned for the spring.

“The Chateau Theatre is an important community asset and this renovation for initial reuse is the first step to realize the long-term vision of the Chateau Theatre,” says Patrick Seeb, DMC EDA director of economic development and placemaking and member of the Chateau Theatre reuse task force.

This renovation preserves the historic architecture of the building, removes the second floor and escalators, and improves restroom facilities, transforming this now-vacant space into a venue that can be used for many forms of entertainment including concerts, movies, comedy shows, lectures, weddings, and dinner events.

In tandem with updates being made to the Chateau Theatre, the City of Rochester and DMC EDA are seeking RFPs for programming, operations, and management of the facility.  A pre-proposal meeting will be held on January 31, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Chateau Theatre for interested parties wanting to learn more about the opportunity. RFP responses are due to the City of Rochester by February 15, 2019.

The opening of the Chateau Theatre is part of a milestone year for DMC, notes DMC EDA executive director Lisa Clarke. “The Chateau Theatre is truly at the heart of downtown Rochester, and it will create more culture and entertainment options for Rochester patients, visitors, and community members, adding to the vibrancy of the downtown and the city as a whole,” says Clarke.

To keep the community updated, DMC EDA is developing a Heart of the City web page with a highlight section on the Chateau Theatre (soon to launch). In addition, the City of Rochester has created a Chateau Theatre timeline of activity.

 

City of Rochester Opens RFP for First-of-Its-Kind Mixed Income Housing

The City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency are inviting developers to submit proposals for a potential affordable or mixed-income housing development to be constructed in the air rights above a new city parking ramp.  This development project is the first of its kind for the City of Rochester.

The City is seeking an affordable or mixed-income housing development that provides for 50 percent or more of the units to be at rents affordable to persons at 60 percent of the area median income.

“The City of Rochester is especially proud of this parking ramp project given the opportunity to work with the development community to create more affordable housing in the downtown, says Terry Spaeth, Rochester Assistant City Administrator.  “We look forward to the creative ways in which a developer may approach this project.  We know that providing affordable housing is vitally important to the City’s success.”

A successful development project will promote the ideals of smart growth to create the following:

  • Provide affordable housing opportunities for persons at 60 percent area median income desiring to live close to employment, shopping, entertainment, without the necessity of relying on an automobile

  • Encourage the most efficient use of the downtown location

  • Establish a quality of sustainable design that will set a standard for future development in the area and integrates well with the current facility

  • Create a project that contributes to the goal of a walkable downtown

  • Implement innovative solutions/alternatives to address and reduce parking demand

“Workforce housing is a critical component of the Destination Medical Center (DMC) strategy as we continue to create a viable urban core for Rochester,” adds Lisa Clarke, executive director, Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency. “This parking ramp is a DMC-funded ramp and the potential to develop a mixed-use project is an excellent opportunity to meet multiple needs – parking and housing – in downtown Rochester.”

The deadline to submit proposals is June 14, 2019.