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12 posts categorized "Politics and business"

May 31, 2016

A look at Mayo Clinic's NIH funding

It was announced last week that the National Institutes of Health awarded Mayo Clinic $142 million, spread out over five years, to a new federal Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program biobank.

NIH_Master_Logo_Vertical_2ColorThat made me think of a couple things. First, I remembered writing about the formation of Mayo Clinic Bioservices in 2014. It looks like that program is probably the core of this new project.

Next I wondered how $28.4 million a year or $142 million over five years measures up against Mayo Clinic's typical annual funding grants from NIH. Mayo Clinic has lots of money coming in from government contracts and grants from a variety of sources ranging from NIH to the Dept. of Defense.

Looking at just the NIH funding, this new grant is significant, but not not huge, in comparison to recent years.

Before this latest grant, NIH has already given Mayo Clinic $85.8 million in funding through 176 awards for 2016. The $28.4 million for this year will ramp it up to $114.2 million for 2016, which puts Mayo possibly on track for a record year. Here's the breakdown of Mayo's NIH grants in recent years.

• 2015 - 395 awards - $207.6 million

• 2014 - 401 awards - $201.2 million

• 2013 - 376 awards - $192.2 million

• 2012 - 380 awards - $205.2 million

• 2011 - 362 awards - $193.9 million

2016 - 176 awards - $85,878,422


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 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. 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." 

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)



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

New trustees bring political, financial clout to Mayo Clinic board

Mayo Clinic is bringing a significant amount of political and financial clout onto its Board of Trustees with the addition of two new members.

Armando Codina and Diana Taylor were officially named as board members at the organization's quarterly meeting on Friday in Rochester.

SFBJ Armando Codina 315*304Codina, a 66-year-old Cuban immigrant, is the executive chairman of Coral Gables, Fla.-based Codina Partners. Codina Partners is a powerful real estate investment and development company.

He has deep personal, political and business ties to the Bush family. By joining the Mayo board, he follows in the footsteps of Barbara Bush, who was a trustee from 1993 to 2001. Codina serves on the boards of many public companies, including General Motors, Home Depot and Merrill Lynch.Diana-Taylor

Taylor, 59, is a managing director of Wolfensohn Fund Management in New York City. She served as the superintendent of banks for the state of New York from 2003 to 2007. For many years, she has been a very public companion of billionaire and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Taylor serves on many boards, including Citigroup and Sotheby’s.

The Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, a 31-member group of public representatives and Mayo Clinic physicians and administrators, is responsible for patient care, medical education and research at Mayo Clinic’s sites.

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.

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.


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."

October 27, 2012

More details out on Destination Medical project

Here's some from a piece I wrote following up the Destination Medical Community initiative, its request for $20 million in sales tax funds and more on developer that is consulting on the project:


Even before voters consider a sales tax extension that includes $20 million for Destination Medical Community, Mayo Clinic is driving the project forward by paying consultants to help create a plan for the initiative.

The campaign by city leaders and Mayo Clinic aims to enhance the overall experiences of people visiting Rochester for medical treatment.

"DMC is an overall strategy being developed to support the goal of providing the ideal patient, companion, visitor and community member experience," says a statement submitted by the committee in charge of DMC.

Dmc logoIt began as a vision many years ago. When the call went out for community projects that could be funded by an extension of Rochester's half-cent, local-option sales tax, a DMC committee was formed with Mayo Clinic representatives and local leaders. A funding request for the project was submitted asking for $20 million of the estimated $139.5 million that an extension of the sales tax could raise.

The chamber, Rochester Economic Development Inc., the Rochester Downtown Alliance and the Rochester Visitors and Convention Bureau are all involved in the campaign. Mayo Clinic, however, is spearheading the planning.

Mayo Clinic has since hired in-house staff to address the Destination Medical project. The clinic's public relations staff currently handles all communication about DMC.

On Nov. 6, voters will decide on the sales tax extension. Proponents of the extension describe the sales tax as an economic investment that will improve the community. The $20 million for Destination Medical is framed as making Rochester more attractive as a place for Mayo Clinic to spend more of the $700 million it plans to spend annually on capital projects at all of its campuses over the next five years.

Earlier this month, Mayo confirmed that Hammes Co., a top health care consulting firm that's based in Madison, Wis., had been hired to work on the DMC project. Now the committee has released more details.

Hammes Company was hired as a planning consultant two years ago through a competitive bid process by the DMC committee. However, no money from the sales tax extension will be used to pay Hammes for its work.

"Mayo Clinic is paying for all consultants for DMC and will not seek sales tax dollars for Mayo expenses. The city will pay for any consultants it determines it needs," according to a statement from the committee.

The committee doesn't expect to have any detailed plans on how to spend the money prior to the election.

August 13, 2012

Kennedy coming to see Jackson at Mayo Clinic

Here's a little from an AP story by Michelle Smith about Jesse Jackson Jr. in Rochester and how Patrick Kennedy, a former Mayo Clinic patient is coming to visit and support him here.


Former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy said Monday he plans to visit Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois on Thursday at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where Jackson is being treated for bipolar disorder.

Patrick_Kennedy-8210Kennedy was treated at the Mayo Clinic himself for addiction and depression in 2006 after a late-night car crash at the U.S. Capitol. He decided not to run for a ninth term in 2010 and retired from Congress last year.

Jackson took a medical leave two months ago, and the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic said Monday he was being treated for Bipolar II, which is define 120727-jessejacksonjr-514p.380;380;7;70;0d as periodic episodes of depression and hypomania. Hypomania is a less serious form of mania.

‘‘Jesse and I served together for many years, and I've spoken to him several times, and I'm looking forward to visiting with him personally ... just to impart for him my experience. There’s an ability for Jesse to be helpful to others who come after him,’’ Kennedy told The Associated Press on Monday. ‘‘I can share with him not only my experience in recovery, but I can also obviously relate what it’s like to struggle and be in public life.’’

April 16, 2012

New York lawmakers, paper push for IBM worker numbers

There was an interesting editorial about IBM in Sunday's edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

IBM has a significant presence in that area. Like in Rochester, it regularly lays off (and hires) workers.

Like in Rochester, Big Blue refuses to share layoff numbers or even the total number of workers in the local area.

IBM does get a lot of state and federal government contracts as well subsidies and tax breaks.

In New York, state lawmakers say that IBM should publically release how many people it employs locally. The newspaper is supporting that push.

Here's some from the editorial:

Earlier this year, it was discovered that once again IBM was laying off workers, including in this area.

Yet, once again, Big Blue is being arrogantly tight-lipped about the number of people let go — and it still refuses to answer to the public the rudimentary question of how many people it employs in Dutchess County.

These are troubling trends for the area, for certain.

The company’s disingenuous attitude about such important matters, which clearly can have a profound impact on communities, is alarming. State officials in particular should do everything in their power to force more disclosure.


Periodically, though, IBM has cut major tax deals with the state, garnering large breaks in exchange for pledging to keep certain groups of workers employed for certain time frames and to make investments in facilities.

130110ibmwalljan10jkState Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, and others believe these tax deals don’t provide enough transparency, and that more information must be forthcoming if the state is to continue these partnerships.

They are correct on both scores.

That latest deal involving IBM and the state is perhaps the most troubling of all. State taxpayers will invest $400 million in the State University of New York’s massive Albany NanoTech Complex, where IBM and many other companies do research and development. But since no state money is going directly to the companies, information about job creation and retention is flimsy at best.


Under a bill put forth by Ball, corporations receiving public subsidies would have to provide a summary and explanation of the terms and conditions — and that information would be made available to the public and posted on the Internet.

January 20, 2012

IRS on move to make way for Mayo Clinic to expand

Here's my follow-up on the move of Rochester's IRS office:

Sometimes government sources come through with more details than expected.

The U.S. General Services Administration says that Rochester's Internal Revenue Service office is moving because Mayo Clinic plans to expand into the IRS's current space.

Prop_brackenridgeI reported Thursday that a building permit shows that the IRS is moving from the third floor of the Brackenridge Skyway Plaza at 21 Second St. S.W. to the City Centre commercial complex at 310 S. Broadway.

Questions to the IRS about details of the move were passed on the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C.

Deborah K. Ruiz of the GSA responded to the request with an email. To the question of why the IRS is moving from the Brakenridge Plaza, she responded:
"The current space was originally considered for procurement, but we were informed by … Bishop Management that the Mayo Clinic needed our space for expansion and no other viable space was available at the current location."

Mayo Clinic already leases office space on the first and second floors of the building. It is unclear what Mayo will use the IRS space for, although I am asking clinic officials about it.

The Rochester office of the IRS encompasses much of the third floor of the Brackenridge Plaza. That puts it a level up from Newt's Express in the skyway. It has been there for 22 years.
The tax agency moved into about 5,100 square feet of space there in 1990 when it left the nearby Broadway Hall building at 102 S. Broadway.

Ruiz provided other details about the move.

The IRS will move into 6,074-square-feet of space on the second floor of the City Centre complex probably in spring 2012, the GSA says. The lease term will be 10 years, seven years firm.

The Rochester building permit application to construct the IRS office space in the City Centre estimates the value of project about $215,000.

The Rochester office covers 11 southeastern Minnesota counties from the Mississippi River to Interstate 35 and north as far as Red Wing.