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375 posts categorized "Breaking news"

May 28, 2015

Mayo hires consultant to map out Discovery Square

To help fire up Discovery Square as "a catalyst" to create jobs in downtown Rochester, Mayo Clinic has contracted a feasibility study, independent of the Destination Medical Center Corp.

Mayo Clinic has hired the DMC development manager, Hammes Co. of Madison, Wis., to analyze the Discovery Square piece of the DMC vision and offer a market plan of how DiscoverySquarethe medical and technology research area might be developed. Mayo is paying Hammes $1.5 million to conduct the study, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

One expected tenant is Epic, a Madison-based software system that recently signed a contract to help build an electronic health record system for Mayo Clinic. It's planning on having many employees based in Rochester.

"They've indicated a strong interest in the Discovery Square concept, and we're exploring ways they may participate in that," said Bolton.

Discovery Square is described as "the focal point" for Mayo Clinic's expansion of its science and technology institutes, and it's designed as a place for private companies and others to work with Mayo on research and other projects. It's marked on the DMC map as being central to the Gonda Building and the Mayo Medical School.

"The Square is designed to be playful and artful, similar to the Google Commons in order to, quite simply, attract the best and the brightest, the most creative minds in the world," according to the DMC plan.

Mayo Clinic owns about 35 percent of the property within the proposed Discovery Square area.

The goal of the new study is to map out the area more specifically and identify potential partners and funding streams to make it sustainable.

Jeff Bolton, Mayo's chief administrative officer and the chair of DMC's Economic Development Agency, said Mayo funded the study because it's not part of the DMC EDA's scope.

"The EDA budget is really to provide staffing to support the DMCC board, to work with developers and help market the DMC concept," he said. "Mayo Clinic views this as area where we could serve as an important catalyst to advance the DMC vision. That's why we stepped up and are making this investment."

Mayo Clinic's relationship with Hammes dates back to the very early days of the DMC concept in 2008 before it became public. Mayo Clinic first officially contracted with the company about DMC in 2011. When the EDA signed its own contract with Hammes last year for $2.3 million a year, it had no ongoing Mayo contracts.

Bob Dunn, president of Hammes, explained that this study will be similar to his company's work on the overall DMC plan but will be much more detailed.

This study will include a master plan, a conceptual design, preliminary engineering, financial analysis, financing plan, a market analysis, a review of effective land use and operational aspects for Discovery Square.

"This will be a block-by-block plan," he said. "But we're not starting at ground zero. Mayo, which owns a good portion of the land in Discovery Square, has already thought a lot about this development."

Meanwhile, Mayo is actively working with companies to try to get them to locate there, Bolton said.

"We're out marketing the concept," said Mayo's Bolton. "Obviously, we have an interest in terms of attracting groups to collaborate with us."

The project's success likely will be driven by what partners want to work with Mayo Clinic.

"If I were to forecast, I'd say there will be multiple of owners of facilities in Discovery Square. Many will probably be owned by private developers," predicted Bolton. "There won't be a monolithic owner of the facilities. The free market will play out in this environment."

He added that Mayo Clinic may participate "directly or indirectly" in some of the development.

The multimillion dollar question is when actual development of this new job generator area will begin.

"We'll need a critical mass of corporate engagement in order to have a developer to put that first shovel in the ground," said Bolton.

Dunn said this is a fascinating feature of what is already a unique project.

"DMC and Discovery Square, to me, is one of the most interesting things that I can think of nationally in terms of major economic development," he said. "It's unique because impact Mayo Clinic can bring to something like this in a market that's now beginning to mature and evolve very quickly."

May 27, 2015

Manufacturer shopping for Roch. location?

The chatter on the streets these days is that a new manufacturer is seriously looking at the possibility of setting up shop in Rochester.
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While no names have surfaced yet, the buzz is that this manufacturer could need up to 250 workers and 200,000-square-feet of space.

If that is even close to accurate, this could be a big addition to Rochester's goal of becoming more economic diverse.

We'll keep an eye on this to see if this interested company decides to move ahead with a Med City project.

May 22, 2015

Updated version of Hillary Nutcracker comes out for new campaign

An updated version of the famous (or infamous) Rochester invention, the Hillary Clinton Nutcracker, is hitting the streets this week as the presidential campaign heats up.

1-hillary-nutcracker-in-the-boxThe 9-inch-high nutcracker with "stainless steel thighs" originally was created and patented by Frank Freeman in the basement of his Rochester home in 2008.  He sold the functional device in his Little Bear Trading Post store in the Apache Mall as well as nationally.

While Freeman's company, Damn Handy Products, now is based in Arizona, he still distributes his products from Minnesota. He also is considering opening another store in the Apache Mall, if he can work out a "new concept."

"It'll be phenomenal," said Freeman of how he anticipates the nutcracker will sell with Clinton walking away with the Democrat nomination. "Last time, we sold well over a quarter of million units and she wasn't nearly as popular."

In 2008, it sold for $19.95. Now the tag is $29.95.

This version of the nutcracker features Clinton wearing a pink blazer with a campaign button that reads "Hillary 2016 -- It's Crunch Time." It's already on sale at hillarynutcracker.com. The first shipments from China arrived in Minnesota this week to the company's fulfillment center. Freeman says they already have shipped out about 70 dozen orders to five stores and it will be featured on the cover of at least two national specialty catalogs.

Of course, many people find the product distasteful and insulting. When Urban Outfitters started selling the last of the 2008 nutcrackers for $60, it spurred many media sourc8-hillary-nutcracker-introes like the New York Post and Huffington Post to decry the site for selling a "sexist" product. Vox.com posted a story that said the $60 price tag “seems like $54.05 too much for something you might find in a very, very sexist Happy Meal.”

Freeman and his partner, Gibson Carothers, say the nutcracker is not meant to be mean-spirited.

"It's up to you decide whether that is good or bad. The headline on the box is simply"It's Crunch Time, America!" We think it's all in good fun," said Carothers. "Of course, we expect cries of sexism from some feminists. But we expect, and are already starting to feel, a more balanced reaction this time around."

The pair say that women's opinions about the original nutcracker changed over time. In the end, they estimate that one-third of buyers were Hillary Clinton backers. They hope that sentiment will continue to grow this time around.

"They started to see that a nutcracker could be seen as a tough, fearless leader. Realistically,
is the country going to elect a woman not perceived as tough?" said Carothers.

"I think a lot of people feel that it is pro-Hillary. The humor on the box is slightly more pro-Hillary this time," said Freeman.

Political feelings aside, they say the bottom line is the nutcracker is supposed to be funny. It's in the same spirit as their Smash Mute TV remote product, which features a giant button that can be pounded to mute "politicians, talking heads and erectile dysfunction commercials." 

May 21, 2015

Kwik Trip to build replacement store in South Broadway

Rochester commuters will see double for a while this fall as a new Kwik Trip store is built to replace the existing one on Broadway Avenue South.

Hans Zeitlow, Kwik Trip's chief of real estate, explained that a new convenience store will be built on the north side of its lot at Broadway and 20th Street Southwest. That will put the new store right next to the car wash, which Kwik Trip built in 2012 on the site of the former Starlite Motel.

This project has been on the La Crosse, Wis.-based chain's drawing board for a while. Even the Answer Man noted he had heard aboSouthbroadwaykwiktriput it recently.

"This has always been our intention. We had the plans for the new store when we built the car wash," Zeitlow said. "This is just a matter of upgrading an old facility."

If everything goes according to plan, the current store will remain open during the construction of the new one. Zeitlow expects to be able to offer continuous service at the stores through the transition, though the fuel pumps may be down for a time.

The first phase of this elaborate upgrade dates back to August 2012, when Kwik Trip purchased the adjacent Starlite Motel from local hotelier Ash Patel for $500,000. The 58-year-old, retro-style, 17-room motel was demolished that September.

Howard and Edna Welch built it in 1954. A sister Starlite Motel remains open for business in Wisconsin Dells.

The Rochester Starlite's best known brush with fame is a connection to movie and television actress Lea Thompson. The official biography of the star of "Some Kind of Wonderful, "Howard the Duck" and the "Back to the Future" movies says she lived there in poverty for a while in the early 1960s with her parents and five brothers and sisters.

May 19, 2015

Military surplus shop sets sights on south Rochester

A military surplus store is planning to invade south Rochester this summer.

CC Military Surplus is leasing more than 3,000-square-foot space at 1513 12th St. S.E. in the Eastwood Plaza. Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate brokered the deal between CC Military Outfitters and the owners of Eastwood Plaza.

CcmilitarytruckCC Military President Rick Michel said he hopes to be able open the store in early July with a staff of five to six employees. It will be next to Apollo Liquor.

The store carries new and surplus military and outdoors gear like tents, outerwear, hats, patches, and manuals as well as paint ball and airsoft guns. It does not carry real firearms.

CC Military also offers a line of children's clothes and toys.

This will be the fifth store – the third in Minnesota – for the Central City, Iowa company. The Rochester store will fit right in the middle of CC Military's geographic footprint.
Eastwoodplaza2
"We love the opportunity to open a store in Rochester. I love Rochester," said Michel.

The surplus stores spun off of CC Manufacturing in Central City in 2002. CC Manufacturing makes tent stakes, pack frames, heavy-duty vehicle jack stands and conveyor bed systems for C-130 military transport planes for the U.S. military.

Michel describes his shop as "not your standard surplus store" with dim lights and tables full of piles of random gear.

"The outdoor enthusiast is our main customer. And we carry clothing and patches for the National Guard and local military," he said.

Southeast auto business to build a new, bigger shop

A long-time, family-owned auto shop is shifting gears to build a new home in southeast Rochester.

Tilson's Auto Repair, owned and run by Ben Tilson with his two sons, hopes soon to start construction of a new eight-bay, state-of-art shop on an open lot at 1740 South Broadway. That puts them between the 63 Club bar and Advance Auto Parts.

TilsonsThey hope to have the new almost 7,000-square-foot facility completed and ready to open this fall, possibly as early as September.

The elder Tilson has been repairing Rochester vehicles since 1984. In 2004, he moved into the four-bay shop in the Kmart building at  843 Third Ave. S.E. Now 11 years later, he needs a larger place with more visibility.

"The market changed. The dynamics have changed with DMC (Destination Medical Center)," he said. "As Rochester grows, we grow."

In the current location, he has six on staff including himself and his sons, Joe Tilson and the younger Ben Tilson. Once the new shop is completed, they hope to add four to six more employees to the staff.

The new shop will give the Tilsons access to some vehicles that are difficult to deal with now, added the younger Ben Tilson.

"We'll have bigger doors, which will make it a lot easier to work on bigger vehicles," he said.

The new location still will keep the shop in the area where they have long served customers.

"We wanted to stay in general area. Southeast is home," said younger Ben Tilson. "We want to be the predominant family-owned shop on this side of town."

May 18, 2015

The hot dogs of spring to return to downtown Rochester

Spring has officially arrived in Rochester with the annual return of Rick "Murph" Murphy and his hot dog cart.

6a00d83451cc8269e2017eea981e83970d-250wiAfter a long winter of eating indoors, the return of Murphy's cart is a significant milestone for downtown lunch crowd.

This is year marks the tenth season of the jovial Murphy selling hot dogs downtown in the Peace Plaza. Weather permitting, he's planning on putting up his umbrella in front of the Wells Fargo building and open for business on Tuesday.

To celebrate his tenth anniversary, he's rolling out some spice to his menu with some new items.

In addition to his usual hot dogs, chips and soda, Murphy will be serving a new cheddar and jalapeno sausage with salsa, a new turkey dog with barbecue sauce and onions and a new Italian beef sandwich cooked in au jus sauce.

For the really hungry diners, he will also have new larger sizes of drinks and bags of chips.

May 14, 2015

Company owners buy Gauthier Industries property for $3 million

The owners of Gauthier Industries, a manufacturer with a long history in Rochester, have taken control of its future by purchasing its facilities and real estate for $3 million.

Mike Jensen and Terry Grendahl purchased its 98,000-square-foot facility and land at 3105 22nd St. NW on May 1 from the son of the company's founder, Tom Gauthier. Jensen and Grendahl took over ownership of the contract manufacturer from Dave Kocer in 2013.

About-1"Business has been good," Jensen said. "We're always looking to grow. We're thinking a lot about our future. This gives us more control over that. This secures our future."

The company, which specializes in small- to medium-sized electrical enclosures, has 101 employees on staff now. Gauthier Industries has been named as a "Best Place to Work" in southeast Minnesota for four years in a row by Workforce Development, Inc.

Depending on the market, Jensen estimated that the firm could need to expand in some way within three to five years. He added that working with Gauthier had been a positive for the company.

"Tom (Gauthier) has been very good to work with as a landlord," he said.

Emil Gauthier, Tom's father, was one of three founders of Rochester Products Co. in 1946 That company developed the very popular Rochester Plastic Needle. Health product giant Johnson & Johnson acquired a stake in the company for a short time due to the Rochester Plastic Needle. The Gauthier family took over control of it again in 1966 and then re-organized it as Rochester Medical Equipment Co.

Tom Gauthier succeeded his father as manager of Rochester Medical Equipment on 1972. In 1974, the company became the Gauthier Industries that is continuing to grow and evolve in northwest Rochester.

Arrow Ace Hardware to close Byron store

Arrow Ace Hardware, an anchor of Byron Towne Square shopping center, will close this summer.

The store at 1067 Fourth St. NE in Byron is starting its "Going Out of Business" sale today, said owner Dave Neiman. Arrow Ace was one of the first businesses to open in Byron Towne Square, right after construction was completed in 2004.

Arrow Ace owns four Rochester stores, as well as ones in Owatonna, Northfield, Mankato, Shakopee, Chaska and St. Peter.
Arrowacebyron
Neiman said the Byron store's lease was coming up, so they took the opportunity to evaluate the company's strategy in southeastern Minnesota.

"We decided that we want to concentrate our efforts in Rochester. We're having great success in the Rochester market, so we want to continue to capitalize on the growth we are seeing there," he said.

The Byron store will remain open through the Going of Business sale, which may last a few weeks.

Arrow Ace has eight employees in Byron and the company is offering those employees jobs at the four Rochester stores, Neiman said. Arrow, which employs about 40 people in Rochester, has stores in Miracle Mile Shopping Center, Crossroads Shopping Center and Silver Lake Shopping Center and a stand-alone store on 37th Street Northwest.

Oak Brook, Ill.,-based Ace, which supplies the locally-owned stores as cooperatives, now has more than 4,600 locations. It does more $13 billion in sales.

May 07, 2015

Renters Warehouse expanding in Rochester

A property management firm spun off from a well-known Rochester company now is under new ownership.

Jon Ortner, of Renters Warehouse-Rochester, acquired RGI Residential Management from Jeff Thisus on May 1. Ortner says this deal expands the number of Rochester properties he manages to 253.

Ortner, jon"I decided to relax a little bit. This is really a good fit," said Thisus, who will return to Realty Growth Inc. as a commercial real estate broker after helping with the transition.

Thisus originally bought the property management division of Realty Growth in 2014 from RGI's founders, Ed Pompeian and Bill Kolb. Realty Growth continues to operate as a commercial real estate firm and developer, now under the ownership of Nick Pompeian and Robert (Bucky) Beeman. Ed Pompeian still serves as the president of Realty Growth.

Starting in June, Ortner will move Renters Warehouse in the Realty Growth offices in Suite 350 at 975 34th Ave. NW as "a strategic partnership."

For Ortner, this deal gives a big boost to his Rochester business, which he began here more than two years ago.

"When I wanted to do something different, I chose Rochester even before DMC (Destination Medical Center) broke out. Rochester had the best demographics of all the places I looked," he said.

Ortner was one of the original employees of Renters Warehouse in the Twin Cities. Ortner, with his brother, Kevin Ortner, now own four Renters Warehouse franchises in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Denver, Colo., and Rochester. They manage about 9,000 properties under the four locations.

Renters Warehouse focuses on managing single-family homes, condos, townhomes and apartment complexes of 20 units or less.

"We built the business on working with what we call 'unintentional landlords,'" said Ortner. "We keep it simple with a flat fee and we warranty tenants we recommend."