RDA Blog

Category: Lifestyle

Featured Stakeholder Series with Kim Zabel

Posted on November 28,2018

Kim Zabel is a true supporter of the community and visitors to Downtown Rochester. Her efforts do not go unnoticed and you will feel her care and support upon entering her store.

What is your favorite thing about Rochester?

I appreciate the connections and accessibility Downtown Rochester offers its community and guests. People can get where they need to go through a variety of transportation modes. Subways and skyways all provide walking access and our bike trails provide paths for cyclists and runners. The public transit system is continuing to improve as well.

Tags: Lifestyle

Featured Stakeholder Series with Ty Bestor

Posted on September 12,2018

Ty Bestor, owner of Valor Mechanical has been helping build our city for many years. Below is a quick behind-the- scene glimpse of his business model and some of the secrets behind his success.

Tags: Lifestyle

#MyDowntownRochMN with Lisha Leonard

Posted on September 11,2018

For this week's #MyDowntownRochMN we would like to introduce you to Lisha Leonard. Lisha moved to Rochester about five years ago from a small town in Wisconsin and is excited about the every changing menus that work with her vegan lifestyle. Keep reading to learn about her favorites. 

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN with Craig Jacobsen

Posted on August 28,2018

For this week’s #MyDowntownRochMN blog, meet Craig Jacobsen, a Police Officer in Downtown Rochester. We learned about his Downtown view as a police officer, as well as his recommendation for the best coffee.

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN with Danae Gaio

Posted on July 31,2018

Our latest featured shared the story of high school sweethearts John and Sandy MacLaughlin. This week we caught up with Danae who enjoys the convenient location of her job and the proximity to the great food options, steps from her desk. 

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN featuring Blue Sky Dental

Posted on July 17,2018

While the average dentist may not offer a paraffin wax or a massage chair during your routine checkup, Blue Sky Dental is not your average dentist office! During John and Sandy MacLaughlin’s #MyDowntownRochMN interview, Sandy commented on how terrific she feels after her appointments at Blue Sky Dental. We talked with Dr. SonjaMae, owner of Blue Sky Dental, to find out what makes them an above average dental clinic.

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN with John and Sandy MacLaughlin

Posted on July 17,2018

Our last feature was on Ahmed Makkawy for our #MyDowntownRochMN campaign. This week we sat down with high school sweethearts John and Sandy to get their take on all things Downtown Rochester, MN. Plus, we learned how to make your trip to the dentist more enjoyable. 

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN with Ahmed Makkawy

Posted on July 3,2018

Our last feature was on Shane Braatz and Svaar, owner of Knights Chamber for our #MyDowntownRochMN campaign. This week we sat down with Ahmed Makkawy to get his take on all things Downtown Rochester, MN. Plus, we learned some very interesting information about the banking industry as we also interviewed PJ from Think Bank.

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN Featuring Think Bank

Posted on July 3,2018

Ahmed Makkawy shared with us in his #MyDowntownRochMN interview that the customer service at Think Mutual Bank helps make his Downtown experience stand out. We sat down with PJ, the Branch Manager at the Downtown location, to learn about Think Mutual Bank.

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

Organizational Update

Posted on June 29,2018

The Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) Board of Directors would like to share that Executive Director, Jenna Bowman, will be stepping away from her role on Thursday, July 19, 2018. Bowman has accepted the newly created Communications & Engagement Manager position with the City of Rochester.

Tags: Lifestyle

#MyDowntownRochMN Featuring Knight's Chamber

Posted on June 19,2018

Located in the heart of the Shops at University Square lies Knight’s Chamber of Rochester. Shane Braatz mentioned in his #MyDowntownRochMN interview that the staff at Knight’s Chamber “provide a whole new level of customer service”. We decided to dig deeper into his statement and sit down with Svaar, owner of Knight’s Chamber, to learn about the ins and outs of his business.

Tags: Shopping | Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN with Shane Braatz

Posted on June 19,2018

We are one month into the #MyDowntownRochMN campaign and we, at the Rochester Downtown Alliance, are so excited to continue to provide interviews all year long. No matter the season, we’ll provide you with firsthand knowledge of how you can make YOUR Downtown experience even better. Plus, we invite you to share what you love about Downtown Rochester by using #MyDowntownRochMN on your social media accounts. 

Last week we heard from Amanda Golden and her love for the First Avenue Food Court. This week we sat down with Shane Braatz for #MyDowntownRochMN to get his take on all things Downtown Rochester, MN. 

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

Featured Stakeholder Series with Sean Baker

Posted on June 8,2018

The Med City Beat started in 2014 and has grown to be one of Rochester's go-to media outlets. Capturing over 14,000 loyal followers through Facebook by producing breaking news, community stories, opinion pieces, and everything in between. If you haven't already, it's time for you to meet Sean Baker, the man behind it all. See Sean's answers below on all things Downtown Rochester. 

Tags: Lifestyle

#MyDowntownRochMN with Amanda Golden

Posted on June 5,2018

The Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) introduced #MyDowntownRochMN two weeks ago by featuring Nicki de Vera and highlighting Canvas & Chardonnay. The RDA will continue to provide interviews all year long, so no matter what the season, we’ll provide you with firsthand knowledge of how you can make YOUR Downtown experience even better. Plus, we invite you to share what you love about Downtown Rochester by using #MyDowntownRochMN on your social media accounts. 

This week we sat down with Amanda Golden for #MyDowntownRochMN to get her take on all things Downtown Rochester, MN. 

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN Featuring the 1st Ave Food Court

Posted on June 5,2018

First Avenue Food Court

Where is the First Avenue Food Court? This can be a common question for those who have yet to discover this Downtown Rochester gem. The First Avenue Food Court offers incredible food options. This includes on-the-go versions of Rochester restaurant favorites or unique cuisine all over the world. Wondering how to get there? You can find the First Avenue Food Court by entering from the street level on First Avenue or 2nd Street. In addition, you can also head up to the second floor of University Square and just pop around the corner. Make sure to add the First Avenue Food Court to your Downtown Rochester destination list. It is worth discovering and exploring!

Tags: Food | Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN Featuring Canvas & Chardonnay

Posted on May 22,2018

Do you love painting with your girlfriends or just enjoy a fun night out with adult beverages? Nicki de Vera thinks Canvas & Chardonnay is the perfect place, as she mentioned in her #MyDowntownRochMN interview. We stopped by Canvas & Chardonnay to chat with Leah, one of the new owners, and learn more about the business.

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

#MyDowntownRochMN with Nicki de Vera

Posted on May 22,2018

The Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) is excited to introduce a new campaign called #MyDowntownRochMN. The campaign will feature interviews with a variety of community members so we can share with you all the things they love about Downtown Rochester, MN. We want you to know to where the locals go!

RDA’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Samantha, will be doing interviews all year long so no matter what the season, we’ll provide you with firsthand accounts of how you can make YOUR Downtown experience even better. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Meet Nicki de Vera!

Tags: Lifestyle | #MyDowntownRochMN

Board of Directors Featuring Angie Richards and Jeanine Gangeness

Posted on September 20,2017

Part of a diverse and eclectic group, RDA Board Members Jeanine Gangeness and Angie Richards share their point of view into the RDA’s values, mission, and strategic priorities .

Which of the RDA values resonates the most with you and why?

Jeanine Gangeness: The value that most resonates with me is the focus on striving for excellence. Accessibility is essential to downtown programming for Rochester residents and visitors. Focusing on providing great events, programs and services for everyone who wants to have fun is why this value resonates with me. Similar to the work with students, staff and faculty at WSU-Rochester, accessibility and quality are essential! We have a lot of fun too!!

Angie Richards: Strive For Excellence is the core belief that resonates with personally. By facilitating engaging, fun and family-friendly programs and events downtown, this excellence creates an environment and feeling unique to Rochester. Our downtown area has an important role in economic and social development and I take pride that as we Strive for Excellence each and every day that the RDA promotes a foundation that is welcoming, accessible and approachable.

Which strategic priority is most important to you and why?

JG: The two strategic priorities that are the most important to me are the RDA’s work with multiple partners through collaboration and use of data (downtown experts). I respect the work that the RDA has done to revitalize downtown Rochester and track the impact through well managed data. Ms. Bowman has transformed the organization through effective use of data which is reflected in the increased funding over the past few years. The RDA has a small, and mighty, staff who collaborates and uses data effectively.

Why do you feel it’s important for the RDA to provide benefits, opportunities, and support for downtown Rochester?

JG: The benefits of the RDA benefits, opportunities and support has resulted in revitalization of downtown. Selfishly, I live downtown, so I love the energy of downtown Rochester, which is due to the great activities the RDA programs. Rochester is a great place to live and have fun!!

AR: Igniting downtown Rochester as a central gathering space has transformed our community, and by building upon that innovation will continue to do so in the years to come. By leading with an authentic passion for downtown, the Rochester Downtown Alliance creates a central space where business, community and cultural activities are concentrated. Where people and places have memorable experiences while at the same time growing our local economy.

Why do you feel a vibrant downtown is important?

JG: A vibrant downtown is essential to business viability and resident livability.

AR: Downtowns are iconic and powerful symbols for a city and often contain the most historic landmarks and distinctive features. A vibrant downtown, full of activity and life, is the heart of our city and having a healthy heart is essential to having a strong city. Vibrancy downtown sets the tone for investment, new business opportunities, as well as, being a place to live and visit.

Tags: Lifestyle

Downtown Rochester Featured Stakeholder: Virginia A. Smith of Ginny’s Fine Fabrics

Posted on March 9,2017

Downtown Stakeholders are the personality of Downtown Rochester, and that got us thinking, “We bet there are some interesting stories out there.” So the RDA sat down with downtown Rochester stakeholder Virginia A. Smith of Ginny’s Fine Fabrics with one objective: “Tell us about yourself.” 

Why did you start Ginny’s Fine Fabrics? 

Virginia Smith: I started Ginny’s Fine Fabrics when I was just 26 years old and had worked for a fine women’s clothing store for many years.  My employer had taught me all aspects of running a business and my passion had always been creating unique garments by sewing them, so when an opportunity to start a branch of Amluxen’s, a fine fabric store in Minneapolis, was offered to me, I jumped at the chance.

Why is it important to you to be operating from downtown Rochester?

VS: I truly believe that my business would not have survived elsewhere in Rochester, as proximity to Mayo has brought me customers from all over the world, especially people who appreciate the value of quality.  

Is your main customer base local residents, visitors, or a mix?

VS: My main customers come from everywhere.  Many are local - happy to have a local source for their sewing needs, whatever they are.  However, I do have regular customers from all over the world.  I carry the unique silks and cottons desired by the ladies from the Middle East, whose desert sun fades fabric of lesser quality in no time at all.  Men from the same countries choose my fine “tropical” woolens for their full-length caftans.  I have mail order customers who have found a cloth they enjoy working with and cannot find elsewhere, who order over and over.  I also have designers who just love working with elegant fabric when creating their original designs.  All are welcome!

What is your favorite thing about Rochester?

VS: I was born here, so it is ‘home.’  Most of my family is within a few hours of Rochester.  Although I went away to college, I never felt safe until I returned to live in the shadow of the Mayo Clinic.

What do you think is the best kept secret about downtown?

VS: [It’s] the incredible variety of quality choices in merchandise  and cuisine.  Unlike the “big box” retailers, quality is job #1!

What do you think the biggest change will be to downtown in the next 20 years?

VS: ...seems to be the impact of the implementation of the DMC.  That change will have an unknown effect on the community I have known all my life, but change is the one constant of life, so let’s have it.

What unique perspective do you have being a fabric store in downtown Rochester?

VS: My customers are so varied, from so many different cultures, that they have given me a unique, appreciative view of the entire world.

What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

VS: The most exciting project I ever participated in was making a suit for a local young man who was 7’8” tall and had been invited to go on a cruise where a suit jacket was required to enter the dining rooms.  With the financial and stitching help of a few loyal customers, we were able to “dress” him properly for the cruise in less than a week’s time!  It was very rewarding in many ways!

And lastly, is it Virginia or Ginny?

VS: Everyone - but my banker - calls me Ginny.

Tags: Lifestyle

It's Global Entrepreneurship Week in downtown Rochester

Posted on November 9,2016

Global Entrepreneurship Week Rochester

November 14-20 is Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Rochester - a celebration of entrepreneurship in Rochester, MN.

Tags: Lifestyle

KSMQ TV's R-Town talks PlaceMakers | Rochester Prototyping Festival

Posted on May 25,2016

Rochester Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jenna Bowman talks about PlaceMakers | Rochester Prototyping Festival on R-Town, the show about Rochester by KSMQ TV.

Video by KSMQ TV

Tags: Lifestyle

John Adams Butt Kickers Pick Up Downtown Rochester

Posted on May 24,2016

"One of the many reasons why Rochester is an amazing place to live? We have middle schoolers like the John Adams Butt Kickers who aren’t afraid to pick up used cigarette butt litter from downtown.

"A giant Litter Bit Better thank you to this crew who canvased downtown today to collect heaps of toxic cigarette butts!"

The John Adams middle schoolers collected 28,179 butts this past weekend. Thank you for taking the time to clean up our streets.

Tags: Lifestyle

Looking for ideas in downtown Rochester - KIMT 3

Posted on May 19,2016

Source: Looking for ideas in downtown Rochester - KIMT3

Tags: Lifestyle

MN Bicycling Awards Recognizes People’s Food Co-op of Rochester

Posted on May 3,2016

More Minnesotans are bicycling more often, and more towns, cities and businesses across the state are working to become bicycle-friendly.

To recognize some of the organizations and individuals working especially hard and doing amazing things to support bicycling, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota has revitalized the Minnesota Bicycling Awards (formerly the Northstar Biking Awards), which lay dormant for more 20 years.

People from across the state nominated their colleagues, local community members, and organizations for the Minnesota Bicycling Awards over a month-long period. The submission list was reviewed by a panel of bicycle educators and advocates, and the winners were announced at the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota’s Annual Meeting on May 1. The 2016 winners and categories

Tags: Lifestyle

"Prototype Festival Planning for Rochester's Future"

Posted on April 27,2016

Click here for more information about the Rochester Prototyping Festival.

Source: Prototype Festival Planning for Rochester's Future - ABC 6 KAAL tv

Tags: Lifestyle

DMC: The Rochester Story Project

Posted on November 24,2014

Everyone has a story to tell and the people of Rochester are no different. Created by DMC, The Rochester Story Project comes to life in the people, places, and faces featured in the videos, and they just release the first installment. 

Check it out here. Tell us what you think? Did you see yourself? 

The Rochester Story Project from Knowble Media on Vimeo.

From the DMC Blog:

"The Rochester Story Project is a platform that gives voice to the people and places that make up the fabric of our city. The City of Rochester is a living narrative, and with the DMC plan nearing approval, our story is building momentum.

"Our goal with The Rochester Story Project is to showcase our community—one person at a time. These are people who live, work, play, heal and learn in Rochester. Individually, and as a collective, we all impact our community and each other, now and in the future"


Tags: Lifestyle | Art & Culture

STYLE on the Plaza 2014 Visual Recap

Posted on October 9,2014

Re-live the Excitment of STYLE 2014

Shawn Fagan at Fagan Studios captures the excitement, entertainment, and fashion of STYLE on the Plaza: the Experience 2014 through this stunning visual tour. Click through and tell us what you think!


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Tags: Entertainment | Lifestyle


Posted on October 8,2014

Explore MN Features Rochester in Commercial

Check out this commercial created by Explore Minnesota. Can you spot where Downtown Rochester is featured? Have you been to that spot?



Video compliments of Explore Minnesota.

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Tags: Entertainment | Events | Lifestyle


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Rochester, MN 55904



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