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August 24th, 2010

"Biobusiness Mecca" – Rochester, MN?


You bet.

No, I didn't make this up. Nor would I use this space to pitch a marketing ploy your way. This comes from a veteran reporter who attended the same gathering I did a few weeks ago. Dane Smith has covered many beats over the years for both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. He showed up at a conference down the street that featured a panel of area bioscience leaders, hosted by the local government and economic development groups. Here's what he said in Finance & Commerce- (comments in parentheses are mine):

ROCHESTER-In the summer months on Thursdays, a main downtown street in this increasingly vibrant city is closed off for a street fair.

With its increasingly diverse flavor, aided in large part by East African and Latino immigration, Rochester has a bustling cosmopolitan feel. (Yes, he is in Minnesota.)

And this historically quiet town, an international center for healing and medicine and the incomparable Mayo Clinic, has emerged as an island of relative prosperity during the Great Recession. (best economy in the state)

A key catalyst for this activity is the Minnesota BioBusiness Center, which is housed in a downtown office building with unfinished concrete floors that’s still under construction. There, a few dozen of the region’s movers and shakers recently gathered around the topic, “Building Rochester’s BioBusiness Future Through Collaboration.” (the food was great, BTW)

I was privileged to attend and was struck by the feeling of cohesion rather than tension between government and business and nonprofit leaders. (These folks have been on a first name basis for years. Most of them have historically appeared on panels together at the BIO conferences as well.)

Mr. Smith goes on to list other ways he was astounded by what he heard and how well people from different sectors were working together...and then he outlined some advantages we might have over place like California. And this is my favorite: "...several leaders noted that if people give Rochester a chance and get to know how livable it is, thanks to public amenities such as the first-class education system and an outstanding regional bike trail system, they never leave."   What else he said about Mayo, IBM, the Hormel Institute, and the University of Minnesota-Rochester, and the research going on, you can find here.

As I said, I was at the same event and saw and heard the same things he did. It didn't occur to me to blog about it because I've worked with all of the speakers and was quite familiar with what they had to say. It reflected the culture here.

He thought it was all remarkable. I guess that's what it's like here...people visit and are surprised by what they find. In fact, the phrase I hear the most from visitors is, "I had no idea..."

Tags: biobusiness, biomedical research, biosciences, biotechnology, People, Uncategorized


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