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36 posts categorized "Economic development"

August 21, 2014

Homewood Suites construction rolling along

08212014homewoodsuitesEven though the skies are stormy, it's clear sailing on the construction on the new 108-room, six-story Homewood Suites extended stay hotel near Saint Marys Hospital.

Rochester's Carpenter family and Torgerson Properties, of Willmar, are building the Homewood hotel next door to their Courtyard by Marriott hotel. They also own SpringHill Suites.

Work on this project started a year ago. Dennis Wallenta, vice president of hotel operations for Torgerson Properties, says construction is on track for the hotel to open this fall, possibly in November.

August 15, 2014

Mama Fu's Rochester eatery is 'indefinitely' postponed

Mama Fu's Asian House still wants to open an eatery in Rochester, but don't expect to try General Fu's Chicken here anytime soon.

The Austin, Texas-based "Asian-centric" restaurant chain says its plans for a downtown location near Mayo Clinic are "indefinitely" postponed at this point.

Mama_Fus_logo_V_rgbBuzz about the quick Asian cuisine brand has been simmering since last year when the PB's insatiably hungry Answer Man wrote a column in November that said Mama Fu's had marked off a space in the Kahler Grand Hotel for a Rochester restaurant. Building permit applications were submitted to the city. Signs went in up in the Kahler promoting the future arrival of the franchise.

In recent months, Mama Fu's CEO still was mentioning the future Rochester location in news stories about the chain's plans to open smaller places as well as it's expansion into the Middle East.

Mama Fu's was slated to part be of the Kahler Hospitality Group's growing portfolio of franchise food spots including, Dunkin' Donuts and Freshens.

However, the signs came down and talk of Mama Fu's eventually faded. Albert Im, marketing manager for the Austin company, cleared up the situation in email this week.

"Mama Fu's and our franchise partner were looking forward to opening this year in the Mayo Clinic area. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances and logistical issues associated with the site, we have postponed plans to open in Rochester indefinitely until our next steps are identified," he wrote. "While we have every expectation that Rochester will be a fantastic market for Mama Fu's Asian House, we are unable to determine a time frame for our emergence into the community."

So, it may be a while longer until the local franchise partner opens a Mama Fu's in Rochester. However, work is progressing quickly on the Kahler Hospitality Group's second Freshens cafe. It will be located in the Marriott Subway in the former home of The Crate.

August 12, 2014

Bank breaks ground for new northwest Rochester branch

Green Bay, Wis.-based Associated Bank broke will break ground on Wednesday for its new 3,000-square-foot branch in northwest Rochester.

10581397_745970035444536_1595413071_nThe new building will replace the branch in the Hy-Vee North grocery on 37th Street Northwest, which closed on July 24. Associated's new site will be located at 1985 Commerce Drive N.W., which is in the Costco's commercial development at 19th Street and West Circle Drive. It will be near the 19th Street entrance to Costco.Associated Bank first filed plans for the branch in February.

EDITOR'S NOTE - Thanks once again to Josh Banks Photography for the pic.

If construction goes as planned, look for the new Associated branch to open in January. The Wisconsin bank has three other branches in Rochester.

The addition of this new branch re-confirms the growing commercial interest in that part of Rochester. Iowa-based West Bank is planning to build its own facility along West Circle Drive in 2015. Two Rochester-based banks, Home Federal Saving Bank and Think Mutual Bank, also have large branches in that area.

Associated's announcement about the new location stated that it will offer "an enhanced banking experience in a revitalized and spacious layout." That will include a full lobby with tellers, a drive-through window and staff to handle mortgages and investment services.

Associated Bank entered the Rochester area in 2004, when it acquired First Federal Capital Bank. First Federal was short-lived here. It picked up the holdings of the long-time Marquette Bank in 2002.

“We take pride in the relationships we have built in this community and we are thrilled to continue these relationships at our new location,” stated Tim Lau, Associated's head of community markets and executive vice president.

Re-locating the northwest branch is not the only Rochester move coming up for the bank.

New owners have acquired Associated Bank's downtown building at 206 South Broadway and the bank needs to move out by spring 2015. Executive Vice President David Stein previously stated that Associated is looking for "opportunities for a new downtown bank location."

Associated has more than 200 locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

July 17, 2014

New plan: Newt's at Crossroads

After years in limbo, a plan to build a restaurant/bar in front of Rochester's Crossroads Shopping Center once again is moving ahead.

However, it won't be the long anticipated Buffalo Wild Wings. Instead, it'll be the latest version of Rochester's iconic eatery, Newt's.

Rochester restaurateurs David and Mark Currie are working on plans to build Newt's South as their ninth local restaurant. Their Creative Cuisine restaurants are the original downtown Newt's, the City Cafe, City Market Deli Downtown, City Market Deli South, the Redwood Room, 300 First, Newt's Express and Newt's North.

The project is in its early stages, so it may be a while before construction starts on the large rectangle of dirt and grass.

"If I could break ground today, I would," said David Currie, who owns and runs Creative Cuisine with his brother. "But I'm going to say it will be in the six-month range before it really gets going."

The sibl07162014bbwsignings are buying the site between the Andy's Liquor store and Home Federal Savings Bank from Tom Graf. Graf originally had hoped to build Rochester's second Buffalo Wild Wings there, but a series of legal disputes over parking eventually quashed that plan. The development plan, approved by the city, called for extending BWW's parking onto Crossroads property to have the required number of spaces.

Parking shouldn't be an issue for the new Newt's project because it will be smaller than Graf's proposed BWW. That means the restaurant and all of the required parking should both fit on the island of land in the Crossroads parking lot.

"I thought the Curries could make the best use of the space with the size of what they want to put on it," said Graf. "At the end of the day, it's a win for the shopping center."

07162014newtssouth1The first generation of Creative Cuisine dates to the 1960s with Jerry Zubay and Mike Currie, the father of Dave and Mark. Building a ninth restaurant will add to an already full plate for the brothers.

"The business is a lot of fun. We both love it and enjoy it. We're blessed to work with a ton of great people. That makes it super enjoyable," said Dave Currie of why they decided to open a new place.

Creative Cuisine employs 141 people. The Curries estimate Newt's South will need 20 to 30 employees.

This will be the first time the Curries have opted to construct a new building rather than adapt and renovate an existing site. They had shopped for a south Rochester spot for about a year before the Crossroads deal worked out.

"Building from the ground up took a lot more thought going into it. We're used to finding a 100-year-old building and then working with it," said David Currie.

They plan to build a restaurant similar in look and size to the quirky Newt's North location, which opened in 2011 inside the Wallin Building at 5231 U.S. 52 Frontage Road N.W.

The genesis for the project dates to 2011, when Graf purchased Tasos Psomas' Pannekoeken Huis restaurant and demolished it to make way for a second Rochester BWW.

Even though Graf decided "it just made sense" to have the Curries build on the site, it doesn't mean he's abandoning his own restaurant plans.

"There will eventually be another Buffalo Wild Wings in Rochester. It will happen. The city's big enough for at least one more," he said.

July 09, 2014

Does IBM have future in Vermont?

Here's a little chunk from a well-researched, long article written by Paul Heintz from Vermont's alt paper, Seven Days.

While there is no direct link (as far as I know) between the fate of the Vermont campus and the one in Rochester, this does sound familiar. For anyone interested in the what is happening with Big Blue, this is a pretty worth-while read.

You can read the full article at this link.

What we're looking at is a city," Frank Cioffi says, nodding at a sprawling landscape of industrial buildings, electrical transformers and storage tanks on the banks of the Winooski River.

The 59-year-old economic development guru steers his black Nissan Maxima toward a guard shack that stands sentry at the northeastern entrance to IBM's Essex Junction campus.

"We're not going to Bildebe able to get in," he says, pulling a U-turn and retreating from the fortress. "Security is watching us."

In more certain times, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation president might easily escort a reporter through the 725-acre campus, which GBIC developed from farmland 60 years ago. But with Big Blue reportedly nearing a sale of its chip-making division to Emirate of Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries, IBM Vermont is on lockdown.

Even Cioffi, its loudest local cheerleader, is in the dark about what a sale might mean for the 4,000-plus jobs remaining at the facility. Like many, he suspects IBM will reveal its intentions next week when it releases its second- quarter earnings report.

"We're dealing with two public corporations that aren't going to tell us anything, because they can't," he says.

Clouds of uncertainty have lingered over Essex Junction for more than a decade, as the company has retrenched and its Vermont workforce dwindled from a 2001 peak of 8,500. But never have the skies above the industrial park looked so dark.Ibm-logo

As IBM repositions itself as a services-oriented company focused on cloud computing, it has jettisoned less profitable hardware operations. In January, it struck a deal to sell off its low-end server business to China-based Lenovo for $2.3 billion.

Though GlobalFoundries specializes in the very chip-manufacturing work conducted at the Essex Junction plant, reports in the financial press have indicated that the company is interested in IBM's patents and engineers — not its aging facilities.

June 30, 2014

Consultants hired to create DMC blueprint w/ FULL CONTRACTS

Here's some of the lead-in to my package from the weekend about the $4.1 million  contracts for the consultants to create the Destination Medical Center plan to re-make Rochester.

There's a lot more detail in the rest of the package. So if you are interested in this topic, I'd suggest reading the full piece.

And for the document wonks out there like me, here's the 251 page PDF that includes all of the contracts with Nelson / Nygaard Consulting Associates of San Francisco; Kimley-Horn and Associates of Cary, N.C.; AECOM Technical Services of Los Angeles; and EE&K of New York.

Download Combined Consulting Agreements EDA(1)

 

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Planning for a complex initiative like Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center doesn't come cheaply.

The surge of DMC hype already has national and international businesses fluttering around Rochester's sudden glow. The sale of commercial real estate is booming, particularly in the downtown core. New housing developments are being mapped out for the tens of thousands of people expected to move to Rochester for the forecasted 35,000 to 45,000 new jobs.

51687d3f5e0c6-image However, there's no blueprint yet for the $6 billion upgrade of the city's infrastructure, transportation systems, private development and more that's at the heart of DMC's vision of a Rochester better suited to accommodate more patients for Mayo Clinic.

Hiring a team to create a detailed plan for the massive undertaking to change the face of the city was a top priority for the public Destination Medical Center Corp. board of directors.

Public-private projects on this scale are rare in U.S., so there are not many examples to follow. National experts say sports developments, like the $975 million Vikings stadium and the new $622 million Atlanta Braves stadium, are about the only comparable projects to what is being proposed in Rochester.

The DMCC contracted with the DMC private Economic Development Agency, led by Mayo Clinic's Lisa Clarke, to handle hiring consultants to create the overall DMC "development plan." In December, the EDA board posted requests for proposal for six roles in the planning process.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upWith so much money on the table, proposals came in from 19 leading firms across the country and even overseas. Five of the teams vying for the contracts are based in Minnesota with three of them having offices in Rochester.

In April, the EDA wrapped up that six-month hiring process by contracting with four national consulting firms. Two were chosen to fill dual roles.

All of the consultants have had experience in major public-private projects, from stadiums to transit systems to airports.

Those four, plus another company hired in February, will be paid a total of $4.1 million this year to create the DMC's grand plan by February. That $4.1 million accounts for almost half of the DMC's total city-funded budget of $8.2 million for 2014.

In the end, all of the Minnesota hopefuls were passed over for the DMC planning jobs.

"The main factors that influenced our decisions was experience, knowledge of the market and the team they put forward. Those were the basic components we needed to consider as we moved forward," said Clarke. "I'm very confident that we have hired the best."

May 09, 2014

DMCC board meeting canceled

The nonprofit organization orchestrating Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative has canceled its scheduled monthly public meeting for March.

The DMC Corp. sent out a notice this morning that the board meeting scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled. No explanation for the cancellation was mentioned in the statement. Inquiries were answered that a scheduling conflict spurred the cancellation of the meeting.

The announcement of the cancellation did state that a notice for the rescheduling of the meeting will be posted "as soon as possible."

The DMC Corp. works with its associated Economic Development Development Agency to steer the $6 billion DMC project to re-develop the city of Rochester. As a public-private group, it holds regularly scheduled monthly board meetings that are open to the public.

The board has scheduled meetings coming up on July 10, Sept. 11 and Nov. 13.

April 09, 2014

Allegiant Air pulling out of Rochester… again

Allegiant Air announced Tuesday that it's pulling out of the Rochester International Airport and will end its weekly nonstop flights to Arizona on May 14.

Allegiant"We are always disappointed to end service in a market," said Eric Fletcher, Allegiant's manager of airports. "We thank the Rochester International Airport for their partnership and apologize to any travelers who are inconvenienced by this decision."

Allegiant began offering offering two weekly nonstop flights to Mesa, Ariz., in November 2012, with an eye to serving as a connection between Rochester and Mayo Clinic's Phoenix campus. The 166 seats flights travel on Thursday and Sunday.

A recent study of the airport activity from July 2012 to June 2013 found that Phoenix/Mesa was the top destination from the airport. Allegiant in Rochester had 15,580 passengers during those 12 months. That accounts for 7.4 percent of the passengers in this market. For the same period, Delta accounted 44.7 percent of the airport's passengers, and American had 41.6 percent.

That same study found that Allegiant tallied about $1.4 million revenue during those 12 months.

This marks the Las Vegas-based airline's second failed attempt to serve the Rochester market. From 2008 to 2010, it offered bargain nonstop flights to Las Vegas. During 2008, 27,854 passengers flew out of Rochester to Las Vegas on Allegiant. Those flights ended in 2010 because of lack of demand.

When Allegiant returned to Rochester with a focus on Arizona, there was no concern about demand with the built-in Mayo Clinic traffic plus vacation trips.

“We’ve had good luck returning to markets that we’ve previously pulled out of. We feel good about coming back to Rochester,” said Allegiant's Fletcher in 2008.

Rochester's airport has long worked at attracting and keeping airlines, although it's hindered by lower cost flights from Minneapolis.

In August 2012, the Rochester International Airport was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department Transportation to help attract airlines to provide direct flight service to more destinations. The Rochester City Council approved a local match of $225,000, for a total of $750,000.

The airport's application included a letter from Frontier Airlines, saying the Denver-based company would be interested in providing direct flights if Rochester could offer incentives. The airport has not added any new flights or airlines, since that grant was presented.

Mark Sixel, who did the recent study for the airport, concluded his report by saying Rochester has a large enough passenger market to support more flights. However, numbers alone may not be enough in this competitive environment.

"It is likely the Rochester International Airport will have to offer some some kind of risk mitigation program, including waivers, marketing and even ground handling to convince another airline to launch service," he wrote.

Most experts say the bottom line is that the airport likely will need to offer financial enticement of some sort to attract more service. After establishing the relationship, then the passenger numbers need to be there to keep the service.

March 26, 2014

Area manufacturer to expand, add 14 jobs

A long-time southern Minnesota manufacturer says a $215,000 state tax credits based on adding more jobs helped convince it to expand here rather than on the West Coast.

M60stdHarmony Enterprises, which makes and services recycling and waste management equipment in the small town of Harmony, are one of five companies chosen for the new Minnesota Job Creation Fund program. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the the first round of businesses on Tuesday.

If Harmony Enterprises does as it has pledged and adds 14 new jobs to its current staff of 60 plus builds a $1.1 million expansion within two years, it will receive the $215,000 in tax credits over four years. The manufacturer, which also has a location in France, has been based in Harmony since 1962.

Owner and President Steve Cremer says the company has been growing quickly in the past few years and more growth appears to be on the way, particularly in Africa and Asia. That prospect had Harmony Enterprises considering its options on how expand its production. With so many of the firms competitors and customers located on the West Coast, they start looking at the possibility of adding a facility in California or Arizona.Bcb2003-open


Then they found out about the $24 million Minnesota Job Creation Fund, which began in January.

"We wanted to stay here. The community is good to us," said Cremer. "Now we'll start construction of a 6,000-square-foot addition in the spring."

The plan is to create a new drive-through shipping department, which will improve efficiency for the company and open up the current shipping area to revamped into more production space.

In addition to the improved shipping and the expanding production area, Harmony Enterprises is also ramping up its new service offerings. About a year and half ago, it launched a new service business. It contracts directly with companies to maintain and repair all recycling and waste management machines.

"That's our really big growth area. Many of the new jobs will be service jobs," he says.

March 21, 2014

DMC origins stem from lunch chat six years ago

For the first part of two DMC sections, I chatted with Dr. Glenn Forbes, Bruce Fairchild, John Wade, Jeff Korsmo and Lisa Clarke about the evolution of the concept of the Destination Medical Center.

DMCMy article tracks the journey of the idea from a casual lunch conversation in March 2008 to DMC's appearance in the 2012 sales tax vote and the unveiling of the full concept in 2013.

Obviously, the idea of the City of Rochester and Mayo Clinic working from the playbook is not a novel idea in the Med City. Some at Mayo dismissed my use of this luncheon chat as a startng point. However, they weren't about to offer any better dates as begin DMC's genesis other than the formation of Mayo Clinic 250 years ago.

Unfortunately, the DMC section wasn't quite large enough to accomodate an article that tracked each milestone since 1889, so I just went with the March 2008 conversation.

Here's a little bit of what turned into a very lengthy article. Check out the rest in this weekend's DMC section.

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Destination Medical Center is such a common topic in Rochester today that it's hard to keep in mind that the concept has only been known publicly for just over a year.

But the concept that grew into the $6 billion DMC initiative appears to have started with a chat at a Virginia conference center about six years ago.

Flag01-bdyjpgThat conversation was in March 2008 at Mayo Clinic's National Symposium on Health Care Reform at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Va. The place was bustling with national leaders in the health care business. Representatives of the presidential candidates were there, promoting their health-care reform plans.

But not everyone at the conference worked directly in health care. Mayo Clinic flew out two local business leaders — John Wade, then-president of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, and Bruce Fairchild, then-regional director of Interstate Hotels in Rochester — as guests.

Since November 2007, Wade and Fairchild had been talking about developing a plan to bring the community and its largest employer into sync to serve more efficiently the thousands of people who stream into Rochester. While it wasn't a new idea, a move to formalize such a plan was gaining momentum. Amid the action at the symposium, the pair decided they should share their ideas with Mayo Clinic.

They asked to meet with Mayo Rochester CEO Dr. Glenn Forbes, without much expectation that he'd have time to meet.

"But true to form, Dr. Forbes took the time, and we had lunch together," Wade said in a recent interview. Forbes was Mayo Rochester CEO from 2006 to 2009, and "his very nature is to be collaborative," Wade said.

The three met in a restaurant at the Lansdowne conference center, and their lunch unexpectedly turned out to be a long one.

It started with the trio "blue sky, brainstorming ideas," said Fairchild, who now manages hotels in Texas. But the talk quickly picked up momentum.

"We were getting increasingly excited about the possibilities," said Forbes, who is now retired from Mayo Clinic. "The lunch went over several cups of coffee for about 2 1/2 hours."