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August 28, 2015

New business is sign of the times in Rochester

There are signs of a new business on the way for North Broadway.

Andy Anderson of Austin has a banner up for a new Fastsigns location coming soon at 200 N. Broadway in the Dison's Cleaners Center.

08272015fastsignsWhile the Fastsigns name is very familiar in the Twin Cities, this will be the Carrollton, Texas-based chain's first appearance in southeastern Minnesota.

"They have been looking to expand into Rochester. With Destination Medical Center, they anticipate growth here will be incredible," said Anderson, who is the co-owner and onsite operator. He's partnering with Gene Clement.

The plan is to start the build out of the location in September and hopefully open in the fall or early winter. He expects to start with three on staff, including himself.

That 1,500-square-foot space was last occupied by the women's clothing resale store called Nu On U, which closed in September. For Med City old timers, that's the spot that previously housed Wireless Toyz and Hobbit Travel back before that.

The real estate deal was handled by Al Watts of Wilson Watts Commercial Real Estate and Bucky Beeman of Realty Growth Inc. The center is owned by Tasos Psomas' Skiathos LLC.

Fastsigns is known for offering a wide array of printed products ranging from banners, signs, vehicle wraps down to flyers and business cards. It's main focus is business-to-business, though it can also handle typical consumer projects.

"We do can anything that a business might need," said Anderson. "Our big things are quality and a very quick turnaround time."


March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.  

September 05, 2014

RAEDI brings on Holmes to fill new marketing position

Preparing for the rollout of its regional five-year plan, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. has hired Heather Holmes to fill a new marketing position.

RAEDI announced the hiring of Holmes as vice president of marketing this week. Holmes, a long-time Rochester marketing professional, will start the new job on Sept. 15.

RAEDI President Gary Smith explained that his board decided to create the new marketing position to help with the introduction of the Journey To Growth economic plan that RAEDI and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce have been working on for the past year.
A steering committee of 26 business leaders from Olmsted, Dodge and Wabasha counties has been working on the $150,000 project. The plan, which reaches beyond Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center intitiative into the region beyond Rochester, focuses on three major themes:  expanding and diversifying the economy, optimizing the regional talent base and developing a more cohesive and connected region.

Smith anticipates that the plan should be completed in the next few months, and said that Holmes will help introduce it to the area when it's ready.

"For the past couple of months, we've been doing a national and local search to fill this job," he said. "Heather's a good choice, because she knows who we are and believes in what we're doing."

Holmes comes to RAEDI from the Rochester software firm, Metafile. She also worked in marketing for KAAL-ABC 6 and Corporate Web Services.

"It is an exciting time for our great city, and I'm thrilled to have a front row seat. I can't wait to get started," Holmes said about her new role.

March 18, 2014

Mayo Clinic's new full court press

Mayo Clinic is going beyond the role of sports trainer on the bench and is stepping onto center court with its latest business play.532836c8a1ddb.image

The Mayo Clinic name is now prominently emblazoned across the front of the jerseys of the Minnesota Lynx professional women's basketball team, part of a huge sponsorship deal announced Monday.

Mayo's name will appear above the player's number in the spot where the team name used to be located. Boost Mobile, which sponsors the entire league, has its logo below the number, as it did in previous years. The Lynx logo now appears as a small patch near the collar of the jersey.

No financial terms of the multiyear deal were released.

The Womens National Basketball Association began allowing "branded" or "marquee" jerseys in 2009. The Lynx are the sixth team to lock down such a sponsorship. In 2010, Microsoft’s Bing search engine paid more than $1 million to place its name on the WNBA jerseys of the Seattle Storm. People familiar with WNBA sponsorships estimated the Mayo Clinic deal is at least "seven figures."

TimberwolveLynxMayoLogosThe sponsorship is part of "a strategic collaboration" with the Lynx and the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves that includes the development of a new training facility and sports medicine center to be called Mayo Clinic Square.

"This is another block in the relationship we're building," said  Dr. John Wald, Mayo Clinic's medical director for marketing and public affairs. "From our perspective, this is one of the key components in this relationship that allows us to move out into the Twin Cities, raise awareness and build more relationships."

The agreement also includes Mayo Clinic's name on the Lynx practice jerseys and signage at the basketball court. In 2015, Mayo Clinic will become the medical provider for the Lynx. TRIA Orthopaedic Center will continue to serve as the team's official medical team until then. TRIA also provides care for the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Wild and the Minnesota Twins.

Wald emphasized that the sponsorship displays Mayo Clinic's expertise in sports medicine and training, and the Lynx organization is a good fit with Mayo Clinic's values.

"We believe it was the right thing to do to put Mayo Clinic's name on those jerseys," Wald said.

Mayo Clinic is certainly not the first non-profit medical center to have such an arrangement with a professional sports team. However, none of the top four professional leagues — NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB — allow sponsors' names on game jerseys.

IEG, a leading sponsorship consulting firm, reported in 2013 that of all sponsorship deals made by hospitals, about 72 percent involved sports. About 12 percent were for arts/entertainment, and 8 percent were for "causes."

The Mayo Clinic-Lynx collaboration comes as the WNBA league hit its best game attendance and television ratings in team history at the end of the 2013 season.

The 2014 season begins in May and runs through August. The Lynx are scheduled to play six games to be televised by ESPN2.

January 22, 2014

It's hailing taxis in Roch.

Rochester's Yellow Cab rolled out a bunch on new Prius V hybrids Tuesday to much fanfare among local business leaders and Mayo Clinic.

YellowcabpicI trotted out to the first leg of Yellow Cab's Prius tour at Rochester Toyota. Fairly interesting. Here's a link to that article.

I had reported in June that Yellow Cab planned to switch over to hybrids. Back then, Med City Taxi was part of the transportation alliance that bought Yellow Cab. So two of Rochester's three cab companies were under the same corporate umbrella ... for a while.

Best Ride, the updated version of the transportation alliance that rolled out the new cars Tuesday, does not include Med City Taxi owner Tim and Tina Fliehr as before.

That means Rochester truly has three cab companies, Yellow Cab, Med City Taxi and Rochester Taxi, vying for the predicted DMC boom in bodies trying to get around this city.

The websites of the firms seem to put that growing competition on display.

• Yellow Cab -

• Med City Taxi -

• Rochester Taxi - Rochester Taxi seems to only be on Facebook. It bills itself as the "people's taxi company."

Yellow Cab's use of Med City in its web address struck me as interesting and seemingly superfluous.

YellowcabwebsiteAnd then there's Yellow Cab's slogan on its website:

"Yellow Cab, your med-city taxi"

MedcitytaxiHhhmmmm.... sounds familiar. Heh.

As a side note to this little deal, I'd like to point out that my editor despise the use of the phrase Rochtaxi"Med City" to describe Rochester.

Using it in proper names is OK, but saying something like "The Med City is all aflutter with buzz about Mayo Clinic's DMC" is a no-no.

It was probably my overuse of the catchy phrase that caused it to fall out of favor. Sorry about that.

What do you think of Medropolis instead? Heh.

January 04, 2014

Sign guy ready to brave cold temps

You've probably seen Paul La France or one of his co-workers standing at an intersection in the past few weeks holding an eight-foot-tall Sears Going Out of Business sale sign.

While drivers in heated cars go by, the sale sign holders stand along the streets in five hour shifts for $8 an hour.

SignguyThis is the final weekend for the Sears sign holding gig and it's going to be a brutal one to be out in the frigid weather.

On Saturday afternoon, it was a "balmy" 17 degrees. La France was huddled behind his sign at the intersection of South Broadway and U.S. 14.

"Yeah, I'm kinda freezing. My feet are frozen even though I have three pairs of socks on," said La France, while trying to see through eyeglasses that had iced over from the cold. His voice was muffled by his camouflage mask covering his face.

Despite the forecasts of historic frigid temps moving into the area Sunday, he planned on another five hour shift standing at the corner with the sign. La France describes himself as homeless.

"I'm not a panhandler. I don't want to beg," he says. The cold weather, however, has inspired some drivers to stop and give him hot chocolate or even hand warmers.

He makes it clear that he's not looking for handouts. This is his job, even though it's one that not a lot of people would be eager to take on. La France dismisses suggestion that it's not an easy way to make $8 an hour.

"I've had worst jobs," he says.

October 18, 2013

Mayo Clinic decides to keep employee classifieds

Following an outcry from employees, Mayo Clinic has reversed its plans and now will keep its popular internal classified ad listings alive.

"In response to employee feedback, Mayo Clinic will launch a new, more efficient employee classifieds system on Monday, Nov. 4. The new system will be available at all locations across the institution," said Mayo spokesman Bryan Anderson.

Mayo-clinic-rochester-minnesotaMayo Clinic announced in September that it would pull the plug on its internal classified ad listings on Oct. 30, but that announcement spurred an outcry from fans of the classifieds.  
Employees have long been able to post free ads that would be seen only by other Mayo Clinic employees. The print version of the free classifieds were discontinued several years ago, but the classifieds continued to thrive on the clinic's intranet.

The Mayo ads were known as a place to find a good buy. The housing classifieds, particularly apartment or house rental ads, also were popular with Mayo Clinic's mobile workforce.

Anderson said the original decision to end them was made because the classifieds were not "a strategic imperative" and Mayo employees could use other free classifieds online.

After employees responded that they wanted to keep the classifieds, Mayo Clinic looked at its options to handle the service in "a less resource-intense way" than in the past, according to Anderson.

"The new system will be more technically sustainable and will include a large selection of categories, including ride share and research studies, to support work-related needs," he said.

August 09, 2013

Rochester's 'Dirty little secret'

DeparturesarticleSince today is the first official meeting of the newly established Destination Medical Center Corp., I was looking at some travel articles on Rochester and Mayo Clinic.

I stumbled across a "Special Report" by Departures magazine, which is an American Express publication.

It was written by Aimee Lee Ball for this year's March/April quarterly issue, so it is pretty up-to-date. What makes this notable is how the article characterizes the community and Mayo Clinic.

It actually starts with a Mayo Clinic doctor talking about how many people try to smuggle monkeys onto an airplane. "Monkeys on a Plane" would probably be a better movie than "Snakes on A Plane." Heh.

Anyway, here are a few excerpts:

There’s no Ritz-Carlton in Rochester, Minnesota—no Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental or Peninsula, either—and the city’s idea of an Italian restaurant is the Olive Garden. This is the dirty little secret behind any visit to the Mayo Clinic: You’ll get world-class medical care, but it’s the badlands for eating or sleeping.

When asked about where to eat, one Mayo physician advised, “My house,” and shared the name of a well-stocked market three miles away.


800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upMayo has been an iconic (and ironic) name in health care for more than a century—a place surrounded by cornfields but considered the gold standard or the last-chance saloon by royalty (both actual and media-ordained).


Everyone at Mayo seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid, including the electrician who frets about the most convenient placing of outlets and the cleaning woman who declares that she saves lives (if she’s keeping the room free from infection, she’s right). “We’re not known as the heart place or the cancer place or the knee place,” says Dacy. “We do all those things, but we’re known for comprehensive care, and people work together in this collegial way. The customer service philosophy is powerful. We have a dress and decorum committee—you won’t see unshaven doctors in scruffy scrubs like on the TV shows, and the reason is to respect patients.” Monkey bites and all.

November 05, 2012

Of hot dogs and hotels

It weighs five tons, is 11 feet tall, is 27 feet long and has four wheels.

What is it? The most famous food-shaped vehicles in history, of course, the Wienermobile. The iconic vehicle that is as recognizable as the Batmobile, Bigfoot or the Mystery Machine is rolling along the Med City's streets yet again.

05012012weinermobileVery early this morning (the Daylight Savings switch had me out a lot later or earlier than usual. Heh.), I spotted massive fiberglass hot dog proudly parked across Second Street Southwest from Saint Marys Hospital.

Even more interesting than the brightly-colored vehicle was the hotel sign at 1211 Second St. S.W.

In a column last week, I teased that a Med City hotel was looking at making a change. That seems to have happened, since the sign over the Oscar Mayer car says Aspen Suites instead of Staybridge Suites.
The 83-suite hotel, along with the Fiksdal Hotel, is owned by Blue Stem Capital of Sioux Fall, S.D., and Glen Fiksdal of Rochester.

I guess I should stop hotdogging and give them a call to find out the details.