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23 posts from June 2011

June 30, 2011

Action in spot between TJ's and CEC?

While I have written thousands of words about Trader Joe's grocery and the Chuck E. Cheese kids pizza place in Rochester's Apache Shoppes center, I have to admit to having a blind spot.

Looking at the sliced up former EconoFoods grocery store building on Rochester's south side, I have always focused on the two high-profile brands that rolled in there late last year.

But in doing so, I have overlooked something.

There is 15,000 square feet of empty space between the two flashy tenants. The facade has a gap-toothed smile.

Now I'm hearing some chatter that is helping clear up my vision. Word is that a possible deal could be in the works to turn my blind spot into something to see.

Will a deal really happen soon?

It is impossible to say.

But I'll keep my eyes open and we'll see.

Mayo Clinic and a possible $1B project in India

Here's an interesting tidbit written by Mohit Bhalla for the Economic Times in India about a possible $1 billion deal that could involve Mayo Clinic in the city of Hyderabad in India.

This seems to match up with my recent piece on Jeff Korsmo leaving Mayo Clinic for Kansas. For the past several months, he has been working on a Mayo Clinic project in India.

It is also interesting given the recent deal Mayo Clinic made in China.


Infrastructure conglomerate GMR Group is in talks with multiple
potential partners including Prathap Reddy's Apollo Hospitals Group
and US-based healthcare provider Mayo Clinic to set up a large
hospital project in Hyderabad where it plans to invest close to $1
billion, two people said on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_up One of the people quoted above said that GMR plans to use the surplus land it owns around the Hyderabad airport to build what could be one of the largest hospitals in Asia and wants to rope in partners of international repute for the same.

The discussions between GMR, Apollo Hospitals and Mayo Clinic are at a preliminary stage and may not result in a deal, according to the person quoted above.

The three parties are in talks to form a joint venture company to execute the project.

A spokersperson for GMR said in response to queries from ET Now, "There is nothing definitive as yet. Yes,  we are talking to at least a couple of leading hospitals for a possible tie-up for our Health Port in Hyderabad but no details are currently available for confirmation to you".
Mayo clinic did not respond to emailed queries.

Cracked open, Red Lobster work scuttles along

Here's some from my column PLUS a video of me standing on a dirt pile.

Look for the print edition for entire piece.

Construction crews have cracked the shell, leaving the exposed building looking dull and dusty in the shadow of Rochester's Apache Mall, but by this fall local diners will be seeing red there.
While it looks like a crustacean without its shell right now, the former Romano’s Macaroni Grill on the west side of the mall should be transformed into the new home of Rochester's Red Lobster by the end of October.
The faux-stone facade has been torn off down to the plywood on the former restaurant that closed in 2008.

But that will soon change, says Tom Mikelson, the long-time general manager of the local Red Lobster.

"We are revamping the building, but you'll hardly recognize it when we're done," he says.

June 28, 2011

Mayo Clinic leader leaving to take top Kansas job

Here's some from a piece a have in today's paper about the exit of a well-known administrator who has worked for Mayo Clinic in a variety of top roles for his entire career.

The full story, including some from my interview with Jeff Korsmo, is in today's print edition.


After 28 years in Rochester, a long-time Mayo Clinic administrator is leaving to lead a Kansas' largest health system.Korsmo, jeff

Jeff Korsmo, who has served in a variety of positions at Mayo Clinic including being Rochester's chief administrative officer and the executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center, is taking on the roles of president and CEO of Via Christi Health in Wichita. Kan.

Korsmo, who is currently leading a Mayo Clinic project in India, is expected to start work in Kansas in September.

June 27, 2011

Mayo Clinic signs deal with Chinese labs

This is kind of an interesting deal that could be the start of something really significant for Mayo Clinic.
The lab testing is already a growing and profitable enterprise. If becomes a major international player, it could really explode into an economic engine.
Here's some from the release that came out this morning:
MML_color Mayo Clinic today announced that it has entered into a multiyear agreement with Wuhan Kindstar Globalgene Technology, Inc. to provide specialized laboratory support based on provision of knowledge from Mayo Clinic''s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and its reference laboratory, Mayo Medical Laboratories.

The collaboration supports Mayo''s efforts to improve patient care worldwide and expand Mayo Medical Laboratories' international activities with shared goals for providing high-quality patient care by helping physicians order the right tests at the right time. This collaboration will allow Kindstar to accelerate the introduction Quality-biospecimens-technician and acceptance of new tests by physicians in China.


Currently, Kindstar offers 750 tests in specialties including hematology, oncology, genetics, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular disease. Through the collaboration with Mayo Clinic, Kindstar will expand its test menu offerings, promoting high-quality diagnostic and therapeutic care for the people of China by providing patients and physicians the broadest access to advanced esoteric testing services.

Established in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in 2003, Kindstar is the leading esoteric diagnostic testing business in China, providing laboratory testing services to more than 2,000 Chinese hospitals, including 660 tertiary hospitals. Kindstar''s diagnostic services help physicians properly diagnose diseases and allow them to develop treatment plans for patients suffering from hematologic malignancies, solid tumors, and genetic diseases.

DNAmagnifiedPhoto Mayo Clinic will provide advice on tests, laboratory quality, and accreditation standards, as well as test information, including standard operating procedures (SOPs) and methodologies, to help Kindstar accelerate its development and launch of high-quality esoteric tests in China. Mayo Clinic clinicians will also be available to provide knowledge regarding the medical and technical benefits of tests.

As part of the collaboration agreement, Mayo Clinic will receive equity in Kindstar. In addition, Mayo Clinic participated in Kindstar''s Series B financing.

June 24, 2011

Hotel's pool is bobbing to surface

Today's weather had me daydreaming of hanging out poolside with a cool drink in my hand instead of pounding away at a computer.

When I woke up drooling on keyboard, it made me think of the renovations underway at the Rochester City Centre Hotel, formerly known as Holiday Inn Express.

Holidayinnpool That construction includes upgrading rooms, re-creating a full restaurant and bar in the hotel and bringing its former sealed off pool back to the surface.

Snooping around the hotel, I can see that the pool has been uncovered. However, it does look like it still has quite of bit work to go, before anyone can do any cannonball dives to splash the hotel's deck.

The hope is that if the owner, Mike Bhatka, brings the faded 170-room hotel up to the InterContinental Hotel Group's standards, the hotel could become a full service Holiday Inn hotel.

It was under the Holiday Inn Express hotel brand until that franchise was pulled in late December. The hotel has operated as an independent facility since then.

The hotel previously had all of the features that InterContinental needs to see before it bestows its brand on the hotel.

Those features were shut down in 2005, when it was changed from a full-service Holiday Inn hotel into a Holiday Inn Express by the hotel's former owner, Sunstone Properties Inc. Bhatka took control of the hotel in 2006.

Back in May, Bhatka said he hoped to make the renovations within the next "two to three months."


Construction has been underway for a while and some progress has been made. It looks like it may take a little longer than he hoped, but it just depends on how fast it proceeds in the next few weeks.

Halcyon days at Halcon

I think it is really interesting that a significant percentage of the highest end furniture in big corporate offices on both coasts and everywhere else was made in Olmsted County.

Two of the top competitors in that niche are based right here - Tuohy in Chatfield and Halcon in Stewartville.

I wrote about a new product line from Tuohy in Thursdays column and today I followed that with a piece about Halcon winning a top industry award and expanding its Stewartville plant.

The slow bounce back of the corporate office market is good for both of those companies and for two local communities.

Here's some from my piece today on Halcon. The full deal is in today's print edition.


These are sunny days, even halcyon days, at Halcon in Stewartville.

As the high-end office furniture maker gears up for an expansion to accommodate its growth, its new product line won top honors at the industry's most prestigious show.

Earlier this month, Halcon's new Motus Collection of transformable executive tables, cabinet and accessories won the Best of Competition Award at NeoCon World’s Trade Fair 2011.

Motus table "It is a really big achievement," says Executive Vice President Ben Conway.

 The conference, the largest of its kind in the United States, is where companies such as Steelcase and Herman Miller show off their new office furniture designs.

"It's where everybody goes to compete," he says. "We're just this small company in Stewartville competing against billion-dollar corporations."

Halconmotus1 Halcon's new Motus Collection was named the best out of all of the 325 new products on display at the show.
These awards put the cherry on the top of what Conway describes as "a huge rebound year" for Halcon.

After picking up many new contracts, the manufacturer plans to add to its workforce of more than 200 people.

And Halcon is about ready to break ground on a new 12,000-square-foot expansion expected to be finished by October.

June 23, 2011

New northwest Newt's ready to start pouring

06222011newtsnorthwestsignjk It is almost time to flip on the lights, fire up the grill and start pulling draughts from the tap.

The Creative Cuisine Corp. crew started running dress rehearsals Wednesday to prep for to coming opening of the eagerly anticipated new northwest Newt's bar and grill.

This younger sibling of Rochester's iconic downtown bar-restaurant fills the main level of the Wallin Building at 5231 U.S. 52 Frontage Road N.W.

Here's a video promo clip on this and a little from my column in today's paper.

Check out the print edition for the full piece.


June 21, 2011

Mayo Clinic signs deal on warfarin sensitivity test

This is kind of an interesting project. I know warfarin sensitivity is a big deal in the med community, so this could a significant deal

Mayo Medical Laboratories announced Monday that it is collaborating with an Ithac, NY-based biotech firm on a genotyping test for warfarin sensitivity.

Here's some from the release:

Rhas reached an agreement with Rheonix, Inc. to collaborate on the performance of a genotyping test for warfarin sensitivity in clinical and research settings.

Rheonix logo The genotyping test will be available for all patients of Mayo Clinic and is the subject of ongoing research for improved anticoagulation therapy. Additionally, the test will be offered through Mayo Clinic’s reference laboratory, Mayo Medical Laboratories, to clients throughout the world.

“The common anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin) is prescribed to prevent and treat the formation of blood clots,” say Dennis O'Kane, associate professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

“Until now, determining the correct dosage to prescribe a patient has been a matter of trial and error. Using this genetic test better enables physicians to administer suitable doses of warfarin individualized to each patient and to identify if they are at risk for forming blood clots due to subtherapeutic dosing, or at risk of severe bleeding due to overdosing of warfarin.

This new test builds upon Mayo Medical Laboratories’ continuing efforts to develop useful, cost-effective tests to assist in providing the best management of warfarin for patients."

June 20, 2011

NYT Mag profiles next "Billion dollar author" in Austin, MN

New York Times Magazine published a cool profile of Amanda Hocking, a young author in Austin, Minn. who is is currently the 'It Girl" of the publishing world with what looks to be a very promising career ahead of her.

The piece, written by Strawberry Saroyan, shows Hocking as a down-to-earth woman living a quiet life in Spamtown, USA.

Through online self-publishing, Hocking is selling about 9,000 books a day.

That's a big jump from where she was in February when the Post-Bulletin's very own Matt Stolle profiled Hocking.

Here's some from Saroyan's profile of her:

Amanda Hocking, the star of self-publishing, was sitting in the front seat of her Ford Escape earlier this spring when she spotted a messenger delivering flowers to her home in Austin, Minn. She watched her best friend and roommate, Eric Goldman, get the door.


Inside, Goldman had set the assortment of gerbera daisies and roses on the coffee table.

“Who are they from?” Hocking asked.

“St. Martin’s Press,” Goldman said. “That’s your new publisher.”

That morning, Hocking’s deal with St. Martin’s was announced: $2 million for her next four books, a series she’s calling “Watersong.”

She casually opened the card. “ ‘Thrilled to be your publisher,’ ” she read. “ ‘Thrilled to be working with you. Sincerely, people.’ ”


Me2 “Well, ‘Sincerely, Matthew Shear and Rose Hilliard,’ ” she said before trailing off, referring to a head of St. Martin’s and the woman who would be her editor there.

If Hocking seems a bit blasé about signing her first deal with a traditional publisher, and a multimillion-dollar one at that, it’s hard to blame her. Since uploading her first book on her own last spring, she has become — along with the likes of Nora Roberts, James Patterson and Stieg Larsson — one of the best-selling e-authors on Amazon. In that time, she has grossed approximately $2 million. Her 10 novels include the paranormal-romance “Trylle,” a four-book vampire series that begins with “My Blood Approves” and “Hollowland,” which kicks off a zombie series whose second book will come out in the fall. Her character-driven books, which feature trolls, hobgoblins and fairy-tale elements and keep the pages turning, have generated an excitement not felt in the industry since Stephenie Meyer or perhaps even J.K. Rowling.

“She’s just a really good storyteller,” Hilliard says. “Whatever that thing is that makes you want to stay up late at night to read one more chapter — she has it.”

Hollywood feels the same way: the “Trylle”series was optioned by Media Rights Capital, which was involved with “The Adjustment Bureau,” among other films; the screenplays are being written by the woman who co-wrote “District 9.’


415xaWKjghL._SS500_ And Hocking wants to reach as many people as possible among the 85 percent or so of the population who don’t have e-readers yet. “For me to be a billion-dollar author,” she would tell me later, “I need to have people buying my books at Wal-Mart.”


Later in my visit, Hocking agreed to show me the house she was moving into a few weeks later; it was one of her few indulgences, she said. (Another is a model of a life-size Han Solo figure encased in carbonite that cost “about $7,000,” she admitted shyly.) We drove a few miles, then pulled into a spacious and tidy area in front of a ranch-style home. Compared with her current place, it was the Taj Mahal: well-kept grounds, total quiet, McMansions on either side