DMCC board: Accelerate the schedule
The Destination Medical Center Corp. Board of Directors on Tuesday told the staff of the DMC Economic Development Authority to speed up the process for creating the DMC Development Plan.
At the board's meeting, EDA Interim Executive Director Lisa Clarke and EDA consultants presented what they called an "aggressive" eight-and-a-half month schedule for completing the Development Plan. It includes milestones between April and December at which the DMCC will receive progress updates, and four public forums for collecting community input — in April, July, September and November.
A preliminary Development Plan, outlining what Rochester needs and wants for public infrastructure to support Mayo Clinic and other private development, is expected to be ready in December. A public hearing period will then take place in January and February, and the Rochester City Council is expected to approve the final plan in February, according to the schedule.
After looking at the timeline, almost every member of the DMCC board expressed a sense of urgency about completing the Development Plan quickly to take advantage of the current excitement surrounding the DMC initiative. They said they hope that excitement will soon spur private investors to start making development plans in Rochester.
"This is an excellent process ... and one of the most important parts is community engagement ... But I'm concerned about losing the momentum," said board member Bill George, a member of Mayo Clinic's Board of Trustees and the former chairman and chief executive officer of Medtronic Corp. "Why does it take six to seven months to have public forums? Can we accelerate the schedule?"
Board member James Campbell, the former CEO of Wells Fargo Minnesota, said he agreed with George and added that he feels removed from the content of the DMC.
"We're hungry for content," he said.
Referring to an earlier comment made by board member and former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Campbell suggested that the EDA involve the DMCC board in some of the planning work, and that the board should, at least, get up to speed on Rochester's current planning documents.
Board member Jim Bier, an Olmsted County commissioner, said he agreed with George and others about the timeline.
"I'm like a bull in a China shop. We want to get to work," he said. "We're not going to make everybody happy ... but we need to move forward."
Responding to board members' comments, Hammes Co. consultants Amy Supple and Keith Rowan, hired by the EDA to help with the Development Plan, said the schedule is doable, although difficult.
"A project of this complexity, this scale, takes about eight and a half months. It's a reasonable time frame," Rowan said.
He said that a team of planning sub-consultants expected to start in April will need several weeks to do market and site analyses, studies of infrastructure and transportation, and other work that will inform the final Development Plan.
Supple reminded the board that it just recently granted the EDA the ability to sign contracts with the sub-consultants and also just recently provided the EDA with a working budget. The DMCC board took longer than was expected to adopt its articles of incorporation and working agreements with the EDA and city, and that delayed the DMC schedule.
However, Supple said she appreciates the work the DMCC put into the documents because they are making for an efficient process today.
She said the EDA would try to find efficiencies in the Development Plan process, but she couldn't promise any changes in the schedule.
"A project like this takes time. I don't think you'll see substantial gains in this process," she said.
Further discussion led to board members deciding to make their April meeting an extended special event in which the DMCC and EDA will welcome the sub-consultants and all will tour Rochester to gain a better understanding of the community.
In addition, DMCC board Chairwoman Tina Smith, after listening to fellow members' concerns, recited a list of ways the board wants to become involved in the Development Plan process. They are: learn from what other destination medical centers have done; tour Rochester; receive regular briefs on other Rochester master planning efforts, such as the University of Minnesota Rochester's process; and make land-use and transportation planning top priorities.
The DMCC board meeting also included a discussion of workforce development — that is, how to involve minority- and women-owned businesses in DMC projects. The DMC law requires the city to "make every effort to do this and gives specific goals," Rochester City Council President Randy Staver told the board on Tuesday.
Staver said he is working with city staff to complete a city policy on DMC workforce development.
The Destination Medical Center Corp. Board of Directors on Tuesday added a public commentary period to its regular meetings. The first one was at the beginning of Tuesday's meeting, and two Rochester citizens took advantage of it.
Also during Tuesday's meeting, the board elected R.T. Rybak its vice chairman.
The next board meeting will be in April, however, the date and location have not been announced. For more information, visit the DMCC or EDA websites.