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305 posts categorized "Networking events"

August 20, 2015

Popular TEDx Talks coming to Rochester

A local group is looking for people who have "compelling ideas that can change the world" to launch a new TEDx Talks event in Rochester.

"It's a great platform for ideas that matter," said Ben Creo, co-organizer of TEDxZumbroRiver.

The organizers are announcing their plans for a spring event this evening at Thursday on First & Third. 

CQkbamygIn the past several years, intellectually challenging speeches on a wide variety of concepts have grown very popular through the TED Talks events in California.

The idea of the modern version of Toastmasters is simple. After applying for the opportunity, a person is chosen to speak to a live audience on their topic for three to 18 minutes. The talks are recorded, and TED Talks post them online to reach as many people as possible.

Starting in 2006, the short and often impassioned speeches have exploded in popularity with the YouTube generation. By 2012, TED Talks online video had tallied 1 billion views. This summer, posted its 2,000th talk online.

After hearing local young professionals talk about how much they liked the popular TED Talks, Creo and co-organizer Barbara Spurrier went through the detailed application process applied for and received a license from the national nonprofit group.

"Rochester is a fantastic city and an intellectual capital of the Midwest. Let's showcase our city to the world," stated Creo in the press announcement. "It's time for Rochester to have a TEDx, and now, we will."

Rochester is cleared to host events with more than 100 audience members. Spurrier, who is the administrative director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation, says this shows the confidence in Rochester because TED starts most franchise groups off with audiences of only up to 100.

Creo and Spurrier are hoping to attract a crowd of about 1,000 for the inaugural TEDxZumbroRiver event in the spring of 2016. They expect to have about 20 people speaking. No local venue has been finalized to host it yet.

Every speech will be recorded and sent to the head TED organization to be posted on its website.

Part of TED's rules include that no local organization, such as Mayo Clinic, can control or dominate the talks. Organizers say don't expect an event dominated by well-known local leaders.

"It needs to be community-driven," said Spurrier. "We're trying to reach across the community to create a holistic program."

All topics are on the table, with nothing being banned as a potential speech. The focus will be on fresh, energizing ideas. While the event will be based here, speakers can come from beyond the Rochester area.

TEDxZumbroRiver has speaker applications on its website at Creo said the applications will be "curated" by a group of about 12 volunteers.

"Right now, the focus is on finding compelling ideas," he said.

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.  

January 23, 2015

WSN buying empty Home Design Studio on W. Circle Drive

After being empty for years, new life is on the way for a former home construction showroom in northwest Rochester. 

Widseth Smith Nolting, a Crookston-based engineering and architecture firm, announced this week it has signed a purchase agreement to buy the former Home Design Studio from Rochester's Event Studio LLC. The 32,000-square-foot complex is located at 3777 40th Ave. NW, along West Circle Drive.

HomeDesignDusk2-10x8_editedThe sale is expected to close in March with a build-out beginning in April, according to WSN. The plan is for WSN to move its increasingly crowded Rochester office into 11,000 square feet of the building by August.

"We are absolutely shoe-horned in here," said Brian Carlson, WSN's director of business development, of their current 4,500-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road NW. "We need to provide the space and resources for our team members to do what they do best."

WSN opened its Med City office in 2009, when it merged with QED Engineering. In 2014, it merged with Rochester's Kane and Johnson Architects. WSN now has 20 employees based here. WSN has a total of seven offices and 200 employees in Minnesota and North Dakota

The firm plans to lease the rest of the building to other tenants, probably to other professional offices. This is a very different fate than was expected for the Home Design Studio building. It opened for the first time in 2006 at the height of the construction boom, which imploded soon after.

It was designed by Kane and Johnson Architects as a home builders' showroom with model kitchens, bathrooms and other room layouts. Lead by local contractor Jerome Bigelow, a group of 13 owners optimistically launched the operation with a grand party attended by hundreds of Rochester business leaders. It had 59 people on staff working for a variety of construction-related businesses. The last occupants moved out in April 2012.

Event Studio LLC, of Rochester, then bought the unique complex from Partnership 10, of Byron, in 2013 for $1.3 million. Event Studio lists Rochester developer Dan Penz as manager on its incorporation documents.

Then in 2014, WSN began the search for a larger space in Rochester.

"We looked at lot of different buildings all around the city. We really like this building," Carlson said. "We liked the exposure. We liked the location and the ability to have our whole team in one spot."

May 09, 2013

Not Westminster, but CeleBARK promises fun for dogs, familes

When the contests include worst doggy breath and owner/pet lookalikes, you know it isn't the Westminster Dog Show.

50edebd513994.imageHowever, you can bet your last collar that Saturday's CeleBARK Your Dog Day in the "backyard" of Rochester's Eagle Club will be a lot more fun for both pets and their families.

Pam Miller, owner of the mobile Bone Appetit Canine Bakery Unleashed, is sponsoring the family-friendly event to honor beloved dogs of all kinds, even those that might have a bit of halitosis. People are encouraged to bring well-behaved dogs that are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Look for local celebrity judges Marcia Fritzmeier and Dr. Vicki Hunt to brave the bad breath, measure the longest ears and select the most similar dog/owner pair.

Fritzmeier is the handler of Mayo Clinic's popular therapy dog, Dr. Jack. Likewise, Hunt works with the therapy dog, Hershey. Hershey is known "Mr. June" from his appearance in the Rescued Dogs Calendar put out by Paws and Claws.

To help mark the first anniversary of the mobile version of her gourmet dog treat business, Miller wanted to host a fun and different kind of bash.

"I'd like it to become kind of a signature event," she says.

For the humans, both young and old, there will be games, contests, demonstrations and food. There even will be a treasure hunt similar to the Rochesterfest Medallion Hunt.

While fun is a big part of the fest by Bear Creek, it also will be about helping dogs find homes with good families.

"Part of my passion is to try and help rescue groups with their mission," says Miller.

Six rescue groups from Southeastern Minnesota will show off dogs available for adoption, as well as raise money to support their organizations.

While Miller has been locally-known for her homemade, preservative-free dog treats, she began driving her canine bakery and dog accessories shop on wheels to Rochester dog parks last summer.

"We go where the dogs and their owners are," she said.

Miller prides herself on offering the most current and unique products for dogs and the people who love them.

She says CeleBARK is just another way to help her business stand out from the pack.


Tag: Columnist, blogger and reporter Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street.
Infobox headline: CeleBARK Your Dog Day
Infobox text: BACB Unleashed is sponsoring the free event. which is open to families and their well-behaved dogs.

• Saturday.

• From 11 a.m. to  2 p.m.

• Behind the Eagles Club at 917 15th Ave S.E. in Rochester.

For more information, go to

August 02, 2012

Changes, honors for Roch. Area Builders

After more than five years as the high-profile public affairs director of Tony-Lehrmanthe Rochester Area Builders organization, Tony Lehrman is moving on to a build a career on another foundation.

Lehrman, who will remain in the area, has taken a position with Mayo Clinic. His final day with the Rochester Builders is Aug. 10.

At the Rochester Area Builders networking event this week, Lehrman made his public good-byes, while a face familiar to the local construction community returned to the group to accept some honors.

Sandy-FriendSandy Friend, who was the executive director of the Rochester Area Builders for 20 years, was inducted into the Builders Association of Minnesota Hall of Fame.

This is an honor reserved for people "who make a significant and lasting contribution to the Minnesota housing industry ... It’s about long-term commitment of service, time, and talent made to better the residential construction industry," according to the state Builders Association.

Friend, who retired at the end of 2010, is only one of 40 people who have been named to the Hall of Fame since it was created in 1994.

Beside the statewide honor, Friend was also presented with a lifetime honorary membership to the Rochester Area Builders by current Executive Director John Eischen at Tuesday's event.

April 12, 2012

Home Design Studio goes dark

While it has been for sale for a while, it looks like the once-red-hot Home DesgnStudio showroom building along West Circle Drive in Northwest Rochester is now completely cold and dark.

04112012homedesignstudio1Staff of the Studio plus Home Improvement Professionals and the Olmsted County Lumber Mart moved out on Friday and shifted their offices to the remaining space they have in Byron.

I'll have more details soon, but this move has gotten me remembering the golden days in the fall of 2006 when this massive, multi-level 32,000-square-foot showroom opened its doors and flipped on the hundreds of fancy light fixtures made the complex glow like a spaceship at night.

Homedesign studio August 15Pictures from Business After Hours and Builders events held there in 2006 and in 2007 during that time show a big shiny place bustling with smiling people. Most of the folks I can indentify have long Homedesignicesince made forced career changes, lost jobs, had businesses go under and have faced a variety of other difficulties.

That was also the same time that Rochester Market Square, another home construction mall, also opened on t Homedesignstudio2in2006he south side of the Med City. That has since retracted quite a bit and its developers finally sold it to an out-of-state corporation.

It is quite simply a bygone era.
I realize how much better Rochester has fared than most during these turbulent times. However, it is my impression that most of the survivors from those days have a lot more scars today than they had then.

Moving beyond maudlin memories, I am wondering what kind of business might buy this cavernous place and what could it be used for. It is fantastic rambling showroom.

But not many businesses go that big anymore. Maybe a furniture store or an Aquarius-style dance club?

We'll see, I guess.

January 25, 2012

Window maker exec on how her business weathers bad economy

I feel compelled to confess that I did not have very high expectations when I walked into the Rochester Area Builders meeting last night to cover the president of Marvin Windows talk about the economy.

However, I quickly upgraded my attitude as Susan Marvin began her engaging and interesting presentation.

Here's part of what I wrote for today's paper. Thanks to Mike Pruett of MLT for the pics.

People, community and commitment are the basic building blocks to create a foundation for a business to weather any economic storm and even grow during tough times.

DSC_0663Susan Marvin, president of the popular and successful Marvin Windows and Doors of Warroad, Minn, shared her 100-year-old, family-owned company's philosophy at the Rochester Area Builders annual meeting Tuesday night.

"We serve all of our stakeholders — our employees, our customers and the community," she told the attentive crowd of more than 200 at the Rochester International Events Center.

Marvin and her straightforward approach to business and opinions on the economy hit the national stage in the fall, when the New York Times wrote about her and the international window-making company based in a small Minnesota town of just 1,700 people.

The story generated an "incredible response" across the country and soon Marvin was appearing on CNN, Bloomberg Television and even President Obama discussing the window-making company during a speech.

"It is a story people were hungry to hear," she said.

While she describes a simple business approach, Marvin acknowledges that is not easy one.

"The last few years have been very tough. The economy went into recession and the home building industry went into a depression, one deeper than the Great Depression, with unemployment in our industry hitting 30 percent at one point," she said.

While her family's company was in a very strong position with money on hand and no debt when the worst of the home construction slump started in 2009, she and her siblings realized they had to make some changes.

"We realized immediately that we had to do everything differently," she said.
The Marvin family's first decision was a key one. The company would not cut any employees.

"While a layoff would have been easier, the community would have been devastated," she told the crowd. "We kept the people, but cut everything else — wages, bonuses, travel reimbursements, 401(k)s — everything that didn't contribute to the bottom line."

Marvin Windows employs about 4,300 people, 2,000 of whom work in the small northern Minnesota town of Warroad, where her grandfather founded a lumber yard in 1904.

The town and the company are intertwined. In fact, her father originally turned the family lumberyard to making windows during World War II to help create jobs for returning GIs.

"The strength of the company is the community. It is … an incredible relationship," Marvin said.

However, cutting expenses to the bone to keep from letting workers go was not easy.

"It was a team effort, though not everyone liked it. But they were willing to do that rather than see their neighbor lose their job," she said.

Keeping the workforce intact was not just good for Warroad. The Marvins see it as good business.

"Retention of talent is key. Experience matters," she said.

January 19, 2012

Biz After Hours tonight, politics Friday

Here's a quick reminder of a couple business networking and informational events coming up tonight and Friday.

I hear a scavanger hunt is slated for tonight's bash at Olmsted National Bank, so watching the Med City's business leaders scurrying around the building is probably reason enough to stop by.

And of course, there will be the food, a cash bar and business networking. I plan on being there, so stop me and tell me what local business news I've missed or messed up lately. Heh.

Both events are sponsored by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.


Business After Hours, a monthly business networking event sponsored by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Olmsted National Bank, Suite 101, 975 34 Ave. N.W. Olmsted National is co-hosting the event with the Crown Restaurant & Lounge.


• The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce
is sponsoring a breakfast preview of the 2012 Minnesota Legislative session with state lawmakers from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Rochester Marriott Hotel at 101 First Ave. S.W. Officials scheduled to take part in the event include: Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Geoff Michel; Majority Leader Sen. David Senjem; Minority Leader Rep. Paul Thissen: Sen. Carla Nelson, Rep. Tina Liebling, Rep. Kim Norton, Rep. Duane Quam and Rep. Mike Benson. The cost is $25 for member and $35 for non-members.

December 29, 2011

Kiger's back and the blog is breathing again

I apologize to you all for abandoning this blog for so long.

I took a vacation and was pretty tied up even before I left. The result was that Kiger's Notebook was left barren for the longest stretch, since I launched it in March, 2005.

I couldn't stay away completely, so I did pop back in to do the CostCo piece and a few columns here and there.

RedjeffMost of my time away was spent on the banks of The Wabash in Indiana. A place Verizon as well as the rest technological world evidently do not know exisits. While I did zip out a few Tweets and email responses when the moon was in the right place, I was mostly out of the loop.

I apologize to everyone who sent me emails, voice messages, Facebook notes and direct messages on Twitter. I'll try to catch up. More than a 1,000 unread emails have piled up.

Anyway, I'm back now and revved up for the new year.

Please keep letting me know what you are interested in and passing along any business tips you might hear.

Look for lots of action on here in as 2012 kicks into gear and thank you for reading.