Autonomous e-buses? Most Livable City in America? An average home price of $410K? The Innovation Triangle? 120,000 (or 160K or 200K) Rochesterites? The Healthiest City in America? The Elton Hills Expressway?

Local experts give us their predictions—sometimes just their hopes, maybe—for two decades down Rochester’s road.

The prediction:"Patients treated at home, monitored remotely by a multidisciplinary care team."

The predictor:John Halamka, M.D., President of Mayo Clinic Platform

"It’s 2040 and healthcare has been digitally enabled. Expert physicians and care teams, skilled at practicing over a distance, are using technology backed by strong privacy and ethical controls to treat patients worldwide.

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What does that mean? A child in China wakes up with a fever and her parents use an augmented reality tool, developed at Mayo Clinic, to guide them through an ear, nose, and throat exam. Their pediatrician, assisted by artificial intelligence tools, reviews the images, makes a diagnosis, and electronically prescribes a medicine at a nearby pharmacy in minutes. A patient in rural Minnesota with pneumonia is successfully treated at home, monitored remotely by a multidisciplinary care team. A woman in California chooses a specialized treatment for breast cancer because Mayo researchers have documented that women with similar backgrounds and medical histories have been successfully treated via a new protocol optimized by a machine learning algorithm.

And in Rochester, Mayo’s physicians, nurses, technicians, and care teams are doing what they do best—diagnosing and providing compassionate care for the sickest of the sick from all over the world. What’s different in 2040 is that there is a capacity to improve lives of more people. And hopefully, the way people travel to Rochester. Supersonic train, flying cars, anyone?"

The prediction:"Home sales price for Rochester: $410,000."

The predictor: Carrie Klassen, President, Southeast Minnesota Realtors

"Median home sales price for Rochester: $410,000.

Median age of first-time home buyer: 46.

Profile of average home buyer: Unmarried, two dogs, still on Gen X ‘family plan’ cell phone bill. Groceries, clothes, food, delivered. Medical care is diagnosed through an app and delivered by Amazon who administers it for you if you have Prime.

New homes will be smaller and built on smaller lots with more communal areas. Car share programs will be so widely used that the average household will have only one car and many will have none. Everything in the home from the heat to the dishwasher will be controlled from an app on your tricorder."

The prediction:"The gold standard for fiscal responsibility."

The predictor: Ryan Yetzer, Principal Planner, Community Development

"Rochester’s Comprehensive Plan ‘Pays Off’!

The city of Rochester adopted a new comprehensive plan in 2018 that was designed to provide elected officials and city teammates a solid, fiscally sustainable framework for guiding our city. By the year 2040, Rochester will have realized some major pay-offs by adopting this plan.

In the year 2040, Rochester will be recognized as the gold standard for fiscal responsibility, by effectively managing growth and development. Rochester will have set the national standard for making municipal investments based on an intentional strategy that made wise use of the taxpayers’ dollars, and did not sacrifice long-term stability for short-term gain.

By the year 2040, Rochester will be finishing the final leg of the Primary Transit Network (PTN), a high-quality, high-frequency electric bus system that allows residents and visitors the ability to easily get downtown to work, shop, and dine. This PTN system will have helped to connect all of Rochester to the downtown through the corridors of Broadway Ave., Second Street SW, and Fourth Street SE, making downtown Rochester an exciting and vibrant place to be.

In the year 2040, Rochester will be the national standard for providing housing choice by having successfully adopted a balanced approach to development that includes infill and strategic redevelopment of areas with the ability to support increased residential and business activity. Through the utilization of the PTN, these areas will be enjoyed by all residents and visitors of Rochester.  

In the year 2040, Rochester will rank as the Healthiest City in America for the fifth year in a row—through a wildly successful principle for maintaining a commitment to health, wellness, equity, and the environment. Rochester will be a community that values the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and neighborhood features that make it easy to practice healthy behaviors by residents and visitors. Access to safe and convenient sidewalk networks, bike systems, and a park network that can be used both for recreation and purposeful trips, and sources of healthy foods have become a priority for Rochester.

By using the comprehensive plan for guidance, in the year 2040 Rochester will continue to be recognized as the Most Livable City in America."

The prediction:"The Library is one of the most valued centers in Rochester."

The predictor:Audrey Betcher, Rochester Public Library Director

"With a daily focus on the city’s principles of compassion and social equity, the library is one of the most welcoming, utilized, visited, and valued centers in Rochester. Citizens feel a strong sense of belonging and are engaged in decision-making.

The entire community has invested in better education and health outcomes with significant progress made in kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading, high school graduation, immunization rates, and access to mental health services."

The prediction:"Mayo Field will become the outdoor hub for entertainment."

The predictor: Chris Goodell, President/Co-Owner, Rochester Honkers

"By the year 2040, I predict that the great city of Rochester will nearly double in population to see over 200,000 residents reside here. In conjunction with the great growth in population, the city will also see great growth in entertainment options. Most notably, a renovated Mayo Field will become the outdoor hub for entertainment for Rochester and the surrounding communities. Along with continuing to be Rochester’s home for baseball, a newly renovated facility will provide such amenities to make it possible to host regional and national outdoor concert events, festivals, outdoor movie nights, and more. The new synthetic turf playing surface will also open up the facility’s usage to more community users, making it not only a valuable community entertainment resource but also a destination that attracts athletes, fans, and entertainment-seekers from around the Midwest. (As a side prediction related to Rochester: The Detroit Tigers will return to the top of the American League, having secured two world championships between 2030-2040 led by their new General Manager, former Rochester Magazine Editor Steve Lange.)

The prediction:"A dense urban core filled with world-class amenities."

The predictor:Lisa Clarke, Executive Director, Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency

"Rochester is home to Minnesota’s newest fortune 500 company; one of several located in Rochester and Discovery Square over the past 20 years, thanks to an innovative business climate and an entrepreneurial ecosystem that has spawned transformational life science discoveries that bring new life to patient experiences and the world of medicine. Surrounding this ecosystem is a dense urban core filled with world-class amenities, art and green spaces, driverless vehicles and housing options for everyone. Rochester, seen as the community of the future … is the community of NOW."

The prediction:"We have thrived as a community."

The predictor:Randy Staver, City Council President

"I was able to contribute to the previous prediction article written in June 2011. It was only one year later that we experienced the untimely passing of Council President Denny Hanson. That was quickly followed by a special election, passage of a $139 million sales tax referendum, and a little something called Destination Medical Center. Who would have predicted any of those events?

So what might we expect for Rochester by the year 2040? We continue to grow as the third-largest city in Minnesota. I suspect that the 2020 census will show Rochester’s population to be very close to 120,000—almost quadruple what I have seen in my lifetime. With more people come more ideas and more opportunities, as well as new challenges and complexities. But the citizens of Rochester have always surpassed expectations and we have thrived as a community.

Over the next 20 years I predict healthcare will continue to evolve at an increasing rate. I predict that inpatient care and hospital stays will decline or perhaps cease to exist except for the most complex cases, and we may see reductions in the number of hospitals and hospital beds. At a minimum, hospitals will not look like they do today. The realities of healthcare costs, the expense of maintaining facilities, and an increase of targeted specialized care will be contributing factors. At the same time, advances in medical technology, procedures, remote medicine, pre-emptive diagnostics, robotics and artificial intelligence will contribute substantially to how, where, and when healthcare is delivered. I predict we are on the threshold of finally solving medical ailments such as cancer and diabetes.

I remain very optimistic for Rochester and look forward to the great things we have yet to achieve, even if life occasionally throws us unexpected curves as we saw in 2012."

The prediction:"A 20,000 square foot space for playful learning."

The predictor:Melissa Brinkman, Board Co-chair, Spark

"Time flies when you’re having fun. Over the last eight and a half years, we’ve seen a lot of our dreams and predictions come true and are so excited for 2020. In 2011, we predicted [the Minnesota Children’s Museum] would, by 2020, be celebrating three years in a new location. Sometimes it takes a little longer to make big changes. On Dec. 31, 2019, we announced our move to Apache Mall, with nearly 10,000 square feet of new exhibits and programming for people of all ages. Our partnership with the Minnesota Children’s Museum of St. Paul has allowed us to reach young learners in the Rochester area and helped us prepare for the next chapter of our organization. As we move into our new space in July, we’re also transitioning to an independent organization and rebranding as Spark–Place of Play. With a focus on playful learning, Spark offers visitors the opportunity to engage with interactive, hands-on exhibits and develop a life-long passion for exploration, collaboration, and fun. We believe the move was worth the wait, as it will allow us to reach an even wider audience and offer programs and events that will help us better serve the growing and diverse Rochester community. We can’t wait to see what the next decade and beyond has in store for us. By 2040 we see that we will be more than double our size (20,000 square feet) and impacting learning through play for families and youth. Spark will be a cornerstone to playful learning, helping build confident young learners."

The prediction:"An innovative University endeavor launched with local partners ..."

The predictor:Lori J. Carrell, Chancellor, University of Minnesota Rochester

"I recently listened to University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) seniors present final projects. Each expressed gratitude to their educators and described plans for the future. Wow! Their drive to make a difference in the health of people and the planet gives me great hope for a flourishing community in 2040.

Our campus vision is to inspire transformation in higher education through innovations that empower graduates to solve the grand health challenges of the 21st-century.

Twenty years from now, resilient UMR alumni will be working creatively with teams and technology, leading advances in some of the arenas that trouble us most in 2020—like environmental and mental health. The region will be thriving, with graduates contributing to an innovative University endeavor launched with local partners to sustain the well-being of our community.

Not only will alumni be achieving their part of the UMR vision, but together with collaborators, faculty and staff will have revitalized education. Equity in educational attainment will be the norm in Minnesota. At Rochester’s Center for Learning Innovation, a diverse team will still be a catalyst for doing what works, applying educational research to practice.

Connected to educators by a shared commitment to develop human potential, industry will recognize public education as an investment priority. As the population of workforce-ready talent diminishes and diversifies, that new model will yield a vital ROI.

No doubt, progress in the next two decades will include hard times and even harder choices. As machines get better at being machines, we will be propelled to get better at being human. Creativity, curiosity, compassion—these and other distinctly human capacities will be in greater demand, as we seek complementary relationships with artificial intelligence for enhanced education and health outcomes. This community of care and innovation is already moving in the direction of that flourishing future."

The prediction:"The Elton Hills Expressway is near completion."

The predictor:Shaun Palmer, City Council Member, 5th Ward

"In 20 years, much will have changed but the heart and integrity of Rochester will remain the same. In 2040, I am 80 years old and never thought I would see a 12,000-car parking ramp. The Lourdes Ramp is the largest ramp in Minnesota. Downtown Rochester will finally be cohesive and easy to navigate. There will be parking and rapid bussing will be utilized to better control traffic and go between to Minneapolis and St Paul. The state will be grieving the Vikings’ eighth Super Bowl loss. The Twins will have won their fourth World Series championship. People will finally stop screaming about bike lanes, but the 17 miles of heated sidewalks will keep plenty of people steamed up. The Elton Hills Expressway is near completion. The concerns we are arguing about now will be a distant memory. The Chateau Theater is due for a repurposing again. People who show up and participate in local government will shape how Rochester grows and expands and changes in these next 20 years, as it does now."

The prediction:"More flights and increased air connectivity for Rochester."

The predictor:John Reed, Executive Director, Rochester International Airport

"By 2040, one of the major changes in the aviation industry will be the development of alternative fuels and the utilization of electric-propulsion aircraft. This new technology is already underway and will first be utilized within general (private) aviation. This change will require new infrastructure, such as charging stations, and new regulations that will take decades to develop. Electric power would have the ability to lower the cost of travel for aircraft operators. When commercial airlines adopt this new technology, it will become more cost-effective to serve new routes that are not financially feasible today. This will result in more flights and increased air connectivity for Rochester."

The prediction:"An Innovation Triangle that leads the Midwest."

The predictor:Kim Norton, Mayor of Rochester

"Headline News: Minnesota’s ‘Big Three’ have created an Innovation Triangle that leads the Midwest, and is challenging the nation, in innovation and discovery!

With the world-renowned Mayo Clinic as its core, Rochester has a solid standing as America’s ‘City for Health,’ leading the world in healthcare innovation and treatment. Embracing its role in the world, the community has galvanized around becoming the nation’s ‘Healthiest City’ as well. By taking the lead in creating a healthy, sustainable, and vibrant place to live, they have set the standard for others to follow.

Rochester has continued to develop an artsy, foodie downtown culture that’s not only ‘the’ place to be for fun and friends, but its diverse cosmopolitan experience embraces residents and visitors alike. And unlike too many other Midwest cities, you can get anywhere using the integrated multi-modal transportation system—the high speed rail connects you to the Twin Cities in half an hour. The tram runs on time and continually so everyone can navigate between medical campuses, shopping experiences and cool neighborhoods. With autonomous e-buses that run day and night to every corner of the city, everyone can get to work at any time. Their investment in infrastructure provides hundreds of miles of bike/pedestrian trails, which allows navigation through safe, homey neighborhoods and a park system that is second to none!

Using creativity and universal design, this walkable community is a destination that reaches beyond patients to draw the best and brightest entrepreneurs, numerous global businesses, and young people looking for a city with seasons and sizzle! The arts district is the go-to place day and night—it’s simply an extension of the innovation and talent that defines this community that has grown beyond health care into a web of technology and science unlike anywhere else."

The prediction:"Success of healthcare organizations will be measured by the health of the population they serve."

The predictor:James Hoffmann, DO, President, Olmsted Medical Center

"At Olmsted Medical Center, as we look ahead, we see a future where we continue to play a vital role in providing primary and specialty healthcare to the residents of Rochester and the surrounding communities. We have been southeastern Minnesota’s hometown healthcare provider for over 70 years and look forward to providing care for another 70 years.

In the coming years, we see telehealth, home health, and continuing to develop stronger partnerships with patients related to the delivery of their care becoming more prevalent and embedded into how hospitals and clinics practice medicine. The future will likely include monitoring a patient’s health remotely.

As technology continues to evolve and change, this will present OMC with opportunities to find more personalized and sophisticated ways to deliver the care our patients want and need. We see advances in technology as a way to continue to help our patients be actively engaged in their healthcare.

Success of healthcare organizations, such as OMC, will be measured by the health of the population they serve rather than the number of visits and procedures performed. And to this end, OMC is committed to our first core value of ‘our patients come first’ and will continue to provide our patients the care they need to ensure they are as healthy as they can be.

Mergers and acquisitions will continue resulting in ever-larger healthcare delivery systems. The nation will demand greater value from the healthcare sector, including decreased cost to the patient, transparent pricing, universal access, and improved quality. Revolutionary or incremental movement to a single-payer system will continue to gain traction in the coming years since the cost of healthcare as currently delivered to the nation is not sustainable.

OMC is well-positioned to thrive in the future and we will be here for our patients."

The prediction:"Register for your own face-to-face holographic class today!"

The predictor:Jeffery S. Boyd, RCTC President

"With the advent of virtual and augmented reality, RCTC is now bringing instruction to students across the world and right into their living rooms through a holographic telepresence second to none. Today’s holographic technology allows RCTC faculty to share their expertise with students face-to-face virtually; but rather than teaching through an online class or requiring a student to come to campus to watch on ITV, today’s students experience face-to-face instruction, only through a holographic image. Whether the topic is English, math, or astronomy, today’s technology allows RCTC instructors to illustrate critical topics live, in person and in 3-D. This new visual interactive learning through holographic projection has allowed our students to visualize and experience learning as never before. Since migrating to this new technology, RCTC has boosted its distance learning enrollment by more than 40 percent, which in turn has reduced the college’s energy consumption by decreasing the need for classroom upgrades and ultimately saving the college thousands of dollars by reducing the campus carbon footprint. Come check out today’s holographic technology and register for your own face-to-face holographic class today!"

The prediction:"A vibrant downtown and many other amenity-rich neighborhoods."

The predictor: Michael Wojcik, City Council member

"In 2040, Rochester is a cosmopolitan urban center rivaling the best small cities in the world. We offer our citizens, now numbering 160,000, a high quality of life in a healthy environment. Over the course of the last 30 years, continuing investments in transit and walkability have yielded a vibrant downtown and many other amenity-rich neighborhoods. The best medical and technical minds from around the world come to Rochester and add to our community. Our strong public schools provide our children diverse paths to success. As a community, we are proud that we also produce our own world-class scientists, technicians, and artisans.

The electrification of our vehicle fleets, home heating, and industrial processes, along with our shift to 100 percent clean renewable energy and preservation of green space, has made us a model of climate adaption. As sea levels rise and drought and deadly heat waves have started to cause mass migrations, our region continues to maintain sustainable water and food supplies.

Understanding a change in demographics, we have become a community that is friendly to people of all ages. Children and seniors are easily able to navigate the community, even without access to an automobile. Additional housing options have created more affordable living options and inter generational integration has allowed seniors to remain independent.

The Minnesota Vikings still haven’t won a championship, but we believe that 2040 is finally the year."