Momentous Events in the Rochester Entrepreneurial Community: A Look at the Past Year

Thanks to everyone who came out to our 1st Birthday Party and Celebration of the Entrepreneurial community on Wednesday. We had a full house of over 40 members of our small business and entrepreneurial community, with some excellent storytelling from Kenneth Ngah and Mike Rolih. Thanks to all of you for your continued support of what we are doing here. And thanks to our supportive business community for helping to make this night happen.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester may not be as advanced as others around the nation, but we have much to celebrate. Here are some major milestones from the past year.  

Mortenson to Create Ecosystem of "Orchestrated Serendipity" in First New Discovery Square Building

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Tuesday night, Historic Southwest Neighborhood Association held a Community Open House with Destination Medical Center (DMC), Mayo Clinic, and developer partners to open the conversation about Phase 1 of Discovery Square. Discovery Square is one of six DMC sub-districts, containing a sixteen-block area intended to be the “center of healthcare innovation” in Rochester. The event, led by Mortenson Development, captured ideas and thoughts from the public surrounding the first new building in the district, which will be situated on 2nd Avenue SW and 4th Street SW.

The Discovery Square district is currently home to the Conley-Maass-Downs building, an entrepreneurial hub containing Bleu Duck Kitchen, Collider Coworking, BrandHoot, and Area 10 Labs. Residential complexes are additionally popping up in the district to accommodate the expected population growth, including the new 501 on 1st, Residences of Discovery Square, and Urban on First.

“What we’re really seeing is a neighborhood development that is consistent with this vision that the community had, that really dates back five to seven years ago. This idea of this discovery zone, this innovation zone. This district that would be live, work, and play,” said Patrick Seeb, Director of Economic Development and Placemaking at DMC.

About one year ago, Mayo Clinic announced their commitment to Discovery Square and dedication to externalize Mayo research to spur commercialization and development. The global organization found partners to bring this project to life with Mortenson Development and architectural collaborators RSP and HOK.

“You will understand by this presentation tonight how fortunate we are to have attracted such talent and depth and expertise to our community as we have with Mortenson and this project led by Jeremy Jacobs,” said Seeb.

This first proposed new structure in Discovery Square will be “far more than a building,” stated Jacobs, Development Executive with Mortenson.

Jacobs hopes that this 80,000 square feet of rentable space will be a true “economic engine.” The building will be a constant in the neighborhood for a long time, offering yearlong programming from the Twin Cities Musicant Group to activate the building for its tenants- a mix of scientists, educators, and students- as well as the community.

Designed transparency of the structure is meant to simultaneously invite people inside and allow interaction with the outside environment. The bottom floor will contain a café, which will be open to the public, and a bright two story atrium. A three-story stairwell traversing the building will be ringed by open, inviting spaces and conference rooms, where both building tenants and the public can connect, and most importantly, collaborate.

The building is intentionally designed to facilitate “orchestrated serendipity,”: the collaboration, collision, and fusion of people and ideas within the building.

“80,000 square feet rarely transforms anything. But it’s the collective impact of what we’re doing that’s going to set the tone and create the series of dominos,” said Jacobs.

This new structure is meant to be not just another building, but an ecosystem of Mayo Clinic and their dedicated partners, building things that have never been built before and accelerating the translation of medicine as rapidly as possible to create a real “destination for biomedical innovation,” explained Jon Buggy, Director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at RSP Architects.

The building contains a mix of committed and available space on all floors. The team has embarked on a global search for tenants with values in line with both the cutting-edge and collaborative culture of the structure.

Tenant recruitment has centered around the concept of “attract the attractors,” said Chris Shad, Senior Strategy Consultant with Mayo Clinic. Mayo has identified three primary research groups within the organization as strategic tenants of the building, with the hopes to attract in their collaborating partners. Inaugural Mayo tenants will include The Center for Regenerative Medicine, Advanced Diagnostics, and Biomedical Technology.

The team hopes to break ground on the site in November 2017. The building is set to open around May 2019.

Sponsored: Newly Added Flights Boost Business Travel Capabilities for Rochester International Airport

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The past two months have been instrumental for the development and growth initiatives of Rochester International Airport (RST) to continue to competitively serve southeastern Minnesota’s air travel needs. In early June, United Airlines opened shop in RST, offering a brand new nonstop flight to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). Over the course of the summer, additional flights were added by current carrier Delta Air Lines, creating increased opportunities for business travel out of RST and enhancing accessibility of the city to the global workforce.

RST currently supports three airlines: Delta, American Airlines, and the recently added United Airlines. The inaugural United Airlines flight between Rochester and Chicago took place on June 8th, creating three daily flights between Rochester and Chicago and increasing the airport’s affordability and flight offerings compared with its closest competitor, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).  This month, Delta added a second daily flight to the Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and a fourth daily flight to MSP. American Airlines will continue its three daily flights between RST and ORD airports.

The five additional flights added by RST this summer increase service by 65%, creating thirteen total daily flights and adding an additional 100,000 annual seats. RST hopes to add a westbound flight- hopefully to Denver or Dallas hubs- soon to further increase the capabilities of the airport and make it “one connection away from international travel to destinations in South America,” stated John Reed, Executive Director of Rochester International Airport.

Photo courtesy of Rochester International Airport.

Photo courtesy of Rochester International Airport.

“The increased RST flights give me significantly more options to conveniently fly for both work and family events. Seeing so many more RST flights is definitely worth celebrating!” explained Nate Nordstrom, Rochester entrepreneur and Founder of BrandHoot, a website and app design company.

The national and global accessibility created by these new flight offerings is a key piece to maintain Rochester’s status in the increasingly global economy. In addition, seventy-six Rochester companies and startups have pledged to keep business local and utilize RST for business and recreational travel as part of a “Fly Local” campaign.

Increased flights and attraction of new airlines are positive signs for the Destination Medical Center- a twenty year $5.6B economic development project to make Rochester a destination medical city- and additional business development initiatives taking place in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota.

“Rochester is fortunate to have an international airport just ten minutes from downtown.  As we continue to add flight and airline options, direct travel to our community becomes easier and more appealing for everyone exploring business opportunities here,” said Patrick Seeb, Director of Economic Development and Placemaking at Destination Medical Center. “Because many companies today are national, if not global, our air services must make access to Rochester as convenient as possible to maximize attraction and retention of businesses here.” 

Attention is turning toward Rochester and the potential professional opportunities the city can offer now and in its expanding future.

“Network airlines are just not growing overall capacity these days. Rochester has to compete for air service with communities across the country. When service is added here it means a different community has lost that service and that plane,” explained Reed. “By choosing to Fly Local, we as a community will prove to the airlines they will have success by choosing to bring in additional routes to serve southeast MN.”

Rochester Workforce Housing Shortage Brought into Focus at Recent Policy and a Pint

About the author: Ryan Cardarella is a freelance writer who recently moved to Rochester after spending 12 years in Milwaukee.

A standing-room only crowd gathered at Bleu Duck Kitchen on Thursday, June 29 for a distinguished panel discussion on workforce-priced housing in Rochester. The event was part of the Policy and a Pint event series presented by the Citizens League and Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) The Current.

Moderated by MPR’s Steve Seel, panelists included: Steve Borchardt, Housing Initiative Director for the Rochester Area Foundation; Julie Brock, Workforce Strategy Consultant for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; and Pat Sexton, President of Sexton Public Affairs and former Government Affairs Director with the Southeastern Minnesota Realtors Association.

The panelists first dove into the key housing challenges facing working-class Rochester residents before offering their solutions and opening the discussion to the audience.

Borchardt set the table for the discussion by referencing that 36% of Olmsted County households earn less than $50,000 in gross annual income and 25% earn less than $35,000, yet only a handful of homes in Rochester are currently on the market in the $150,000-$215,000 price range that the working class can afford. Additionally, inventory is low for these homes and the competition is fierce, with buyers often needing to offer well over the list price to secure one of the few homes in this price range.

In a city poised for robust public and private sector growth thanks to the Destination Medical Center and other business initiatives over the next twenty years, Borchardt believes that working-class Rochester residents are in a tough spot.

“Do I think we are in a crisis? Yes, I believe we are in a crisis,” he said.

Sexton posited that a combination of mitigating factors—including more conservative lending practices, increased regulation, and ten years of less than one percent GDP growth—have made constructing more affordable homes a challenge for builders. These factors have led builders to choose more profitable paths, constructing large apartment complexes and more luxury homes, while creating a shortage of more affordable single-family houses.

“No one should be surprised that these homes are not being built,” Sexton explained. “There’s no money, there’s no builders, there’s no labor, and there’s no desire for risk.”

Brock stressed the need to attract more workers to Rochester to create the demand necessary for builders to effectively address the working-class housing crunch, but admitted that striking a balance would be tricky. She advocated for the city to take a holistic view of the workforce and for “the gears of childcare, public transportation, and affordable housing to work as a motor to drive economic development and growth in the city.” The calibration of those gears would ensure that Rochester continues to attract people of all income levels to work and live in the city.

While the challenges facing the Rochester housing market are complex, panelists also shared a belief that through innovation and collaboration, progress can be made.

Sexton advocated for reduced regulation, increased partnership with the City of Rochester, and a more innovative building approach to make construction of affordable housing more economically viable for builders. Instead of proposing singular solutions or “planting one flower or seed,” Sexton is hopeful that the city can help “change the soil” and address overhead costs and the overall dynamics and expenses of building.

Borchardt is “very hopeful” on the single-family home front and believes that the market can be welcoming for first-time homeowners if they adjust their expectations and are willing to put in work on a starter house.

“If you have a tolerance for risk and have some innovation and creativity in you, this is a great time to be out there in the market,” Borchardt said.

Brock believes that employers will need to take a more hands-on approach to housing issues, citing local businesses that have helped employees buy and sell their homes to address the present situation.

“We have to rethink how we are doing work,” Brock explained. “If we are not willing, as an employer, to address these barriers and ask, ‘How can I help?’ we are going to have perpetual problems.”

Moving forward, the panel agreed that one of the most important ways to influence change within the current city housing market is to bring it to the forefront of the conversation, both in the workplace and the greater community.

“It’s important for people to talk about this issue at work, at church, and on a grassroots level,” Borchardt said. “This issue needs to be center stage in the community.”

For additional information on the Policy and a Pint series, visit http://www.thecurrent.org/collection/policy-and-a-pint.

Expansion Team Med City FC Finds Solid Footing in Rochester

About the author: Ryan Cardarella is a freelance writer who recently moved to Rochester after spending 12 years in Milwaukee.

As the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) regular season draws to a close, Rochester’s expansion Med City FC soccer team is enjoying success—both on and off the field.

With one game remaining in the NPSL season, Med City FC sits atop the Midwest Region’s North Conference Division with a 7-2-4 record, tied at 25 points with Duluth FC. Just as importantly, the team is succeeding as a draw and gaining momentum within the Rochester community, under the direction of general manager Frank Spaeth and the Med City FC front office staff. Though Med City is in its inaugural season, home attendance has been strong and Rochester has been turning out for the first-place club.

“Our crowds have been fantastic and make a big difference for our team,” Spaeth said. “We wanted to create a competitive team with a community feel, and I think our style of play has really connected with the home crowd.”

The team has helped foster that community feel by connecting with the local youth soccer community, which has been foundational to the team’s success. Spaeth, the former Director of the Rochester Youth Soccer Association, met with youth clubs throughout the area before the season to ask for their support. Through a special sponsorship program, the team offers free season passes to all Rochester-area youth soccer players. Of the twenty-four players currently on the Med City roster, eight are local products and give aspiring youth players something to emulate.

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“Kids are able to see themselves in their shoes,” Spaeth said. “The ability to see our players who came up through similar channels can really spark dreams. It’s an attainable goal for them through hard work.”

The framework for what would become Med City FC came together quickly for Spaeth, who was approached to lead the team as general manager in November. Because of its size and proximity to other division teams that play in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota, Rochester was deemed a natural fit for the league. However, that left only a few months for the front office to assemble a roster, establish partners and sponsorship opportunities, finalize travel and find host families for traveling players, and work out all the logistical details that go into supporting an athletic team.

Moving forward, the team hopes to offer more soccer camps and clinics around the area, solidify its finances, explore new ways to develop relationships with local businesses, and maintain a vibrant presence in the city during the offseason.

“It’s been a whirlwind, but I’m excited with where we are and believe the groundwork is set for future success,” Spaeth said.

Following a bitter 1-0 defeat to division co-leader Duluth FC on July 8th, Med City’s postseason aspirations will rest on the result of their regular season finale this Saturday, July 15th against Minneapolis City SC. Only two teams from each division will advance to the NPSL playoffs. The top four squads in the hotly contested North Conference Division are currently separated by a mere three points; Med City will need a win to ensure a playoff berth. The home game will start at 7 p.m. at Rochester Regional Stadium.

For more information on the team, visit medcityfc.com.

Pure Rock Studios and Special Guests to Present at Next all Music 1 Million Cups Rochester

Join the entrepreneurial and small business community at the next 1 Million Cups Rochester on Wednesday July 12th (tomorrow!) from 9-10AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event Space. This month is a very special music focused edition of 1 Million Cups! Join in to welcome featured entrepreneur, Ryan Utterback of Pure Rock Studios, and bonus innovators Dylan Hilliker, Founder of ROCKchester, Zach Zurn, Owner of Carpet Booth Studios, plus a special performance by Pure Rock students.

 

About Pure Rock Studios

Pure Rock Studios is Rochester’s premier lesson and performance center that custom fits lessons to meet student’s needs. Pure Rock provides private and group lessons, but also gives students the ability to participate in live performances. The Pure Rock team believes that live performance builds up a student’s confidence and stage presence, a skill important in multiple aspects of life, and allows students to immediately apply techniques learned in class.

Launched in: 2011

Founder: Ryan Utterback

Industry: Music

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About ROCKchester

ROCKchester is a local music and arts festival curated by teens and featuring teen musicians and artists.

Launched in: 2016

Founder: Dylan Hilliker

Industry: Music

 

About Carpet Booth Studios

Carpet Booth Studios is Rochester’s only full production and recording facility.

Launched in: 2017

Founder: Zach Zurn

Industry: Music

 

About 1 Million Cups

1 Million Cups is a free, national education program developed by the Kauffman Foundation. 1 Million Cups takes place every Wednesday at 9AM across 116 US communities to support and encourage entrepreneurs. The program is based on the idea that entrepreneurs connect and discover solutions over one million cups of coffee.

#Emerge Episode 1 with Nick Moucha

This week in our #Emerge Facebook Live video series we talk with local entrepreneur Nick Moucha about the Rochester startup community. Tune into our Facebook page this Friday for the latest edition.

Tech Entrepreneurs Mike Rolih and Kenneth Ngah to Speak at Rochester Rising Community Celebration

We are very excited to announce the two invited speakers for our first birthday party and celebration of the Rochester entrepreneurial community: Kenneth Ngah and Mike Rolih. Our community celebration will take place on Wednesday July 19th at 4:30PM at Grand Rounds Brew Pub. Click here to purchase your ticket by July 12th.

 

About Kenneth Ngah- Founder of WandaGuides

Kenneth is a season web programmer, hailing from Cameroon, who has been in Rochester for the last ten months. This tech entrepreneur founded the startup WandaGuides to encourage tourism in Cameroon and connect tourists with government recognized travel agencies. Kenneth began his career performing web contract work and building websites in several different countries without ever having to leave Cameroon. He served as Community Manager of a coworking space in the city of Buea, called ActivSpaces, where he helped to create entrepreneur-focused events and connect with the local university system. Kenneth and a team of entrepreneurs helped to build very specific tech communities in Cameroon- including JavaScript and WordPress focused hubs- to increase the local skill set and bolster tech development. He also helped to directly place students into internships with developing startups in the community to teach immediately transferable skill sets.

 

About Mike Rolih- Founder of GoRout

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GoRout is a two-year-old hardware and software startup based out of The Vault in downtown Rochester. GoRout developed football’s only on-field wearable technology that allows players and coaches to communicate instantly and efficiently. Mike- a former professional baseball player, Division One baseball coach, and baseball scout- originally set out to build a baseball stats platform, but the idea took too long and was not headed in the intended direction. He landed the original seed money for GoRout while driving a limo between Rochester and the MSP airport. The GoRout team believes in failing fast and learning fast. During Global Entrepreneurship Week last year, GoRout held the first ever sportstech product launch from Rochester unveiling their newest product, an in-helmet, heads up display called Vue-Up. This February, GoRout earned national attention by winning the “Communication with the Athlete” division in the NFL’s 1st and Future Competition in Huston over Super Bowl weekend.

Thanks to our generous community partners for making this event possible.

Rochester Native and Former US Army Ranger Launches Executive Protection Business Ehni Enterprises

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

Rochester native Bryan Ehni always felt the need to protect people. The former US Army Ranger launched his first business, Ehni Enterprises, last October to “protect the life, reputation, and property of our clients with real, physical security.” Ehni and his team capitalize on technology advancements and continual training to meet customer needs. Ehni sees Rochester as a prime location to germinate his business and prepare for the future.

Ehni Enterprises provides executive protection for foreign dignitaries, celebrities, and corporate executives in a manner consistent with the highest models in business security.

From a young age, Ehni was driven to protect others. This mission began in the second grade after standing up to older bullies for a childhood friend and later motivated him to pursue a degree in law enforcement. After graduation, Ehni enlisted in the United States Army and attended the Ranger Indoctrination Program, a Special Operations selection process for the 75th Ranger Regiment. Ehni was selected and served for four years in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“I enjoyed the idea that I could make a difference,” he explained.

The germ of an idea for Ehni Enterprises was conceived early in his career, right after completion of his law enforcement training. While serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, Ehni identified a unique opportunity to leverage his military skill set toward this personal mission of protection. Once hatched, the concept for Ehni Enterprises grew and evolved in his mind for the next seven years.

Apart from working in the hardware department at Menards and selling Cutco knives door to door, Ehni really had no formalized sales or business training. To fill this gap in his educational experience, he enrolled in the business management and business administration program at Winona State University. He spent the next few years learning and continuously sharpening his business plan with the guidance of advisers such as Dr. Hamid Akbari at the university.

Now, Ehni Enterprises is seeking a foothold in Rochester as the “first choice for executive protection.” Ehni’s team is a mixture of highly skilled, experienced former military and law enforcement individuals on both the executive and protective sides of the business.

Ehni sees an immense need for increased executive protection in Rochester, and on a worldwide scale, due to evolving risks and a changing geopolitical climate.

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

Photo courtesy of Ehni Enterprises.

“Even though Rochester is a relatively safe city, it is growing because of Destination Medical Center. With growth comes the need for additional vigilance,” he explained.

Ehni says that Rochester currently does not offer services that provide an adequate level of protection for these individuals.

Executive protection is certainly a challenging market to break into, but Ehni has been persistent. A market analysis and assessment of the need in Rochester for his services posed its own unique challenges; information about the presence of potential clients in the city is highly sensitive and difficult to obtain. Ehni successfully collaborated with key members of the Rochester business community to identify local opportunities and needs for his specialized protection services.

Ehni says his experience in Army Special Operations prepared him well for business, where you’re “faced on a daily basis with challenges that you don’t know how to deal with.” To others interested in launching their own business Ehni says, “You have to be willing to push yourself to the limits and then beyond what you think you can do.”

For more information on Ehni Enterprises, please call (507) 251-2309, send an email to Services@EhniEnterprises.com, or check out the website at http://www.ehnienterprises.com.

Fuse Digital Creative Services Takes Next Step with Grand Opening of New Office Space

Today one member of the Rochester entrepreneurial community, Fuse Digital Creative Services, made another large step forward with the grand opening of their new office- located in The Vault- and ribbon cutting ceremony with the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

Fuse Digital Creative Services was launched last January by local entrepreneur Jeff Bell after a long career in creative services at Mayo Clinic.

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Bell helps large and small businesses “interpret visually” and successfully incorporate design, branding, and creative innovation into their business model. Fuse Digital Creative Services is tightly linked to the Rochester entrepreneurial community, performing recent work with entities such as Med City FC, Destination Medical Center, GoRout, and Soul Purpose Boutique.

Bell says he looks forward to the day when people refer to his business simply by the word “Fuse”.

Join us for our 1 Year Birthday Party and Community Celebration

Rochester Rising is turning 1 year old! This online news platform was created last July to amplify the stories of Rochester entrepreneurs and give a voice to our emerging entrepreneurial community.

Join us for a celebration of this milestone!

This evening is not just for Rochester Rising. It's a time to celebrate the entire entrepreneurial community of Rochester and its growth over the past year. 

All tickets include a buffet style meal from Grand Rounds and 1 beer, wine, cocktail, or soft drink.

As part of this event, we have also invited one entrepreneur from the community to tell more of their story, as chosen by the Rochester entrepreneurial community. Look for an announcement of this speaker early next week.

We will also have a $2 raffle with items from Rochester Rising and GoRout up for grabs. All proceeds from the raffle will go toward keeping Rochester Rising alive and running.

This event was made possible by: Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza, Sonex Health, and Brandhoot.

and by: AM Fitness, Community and Economic Development Associates, TerraLoco, Penz Dental Care, FireFly, Carpet Booth Studios, BubbleBall Rochester, GoRout, and COVR Medical

This incredible businesses helped to subsidize the food costs for members of our community, to lower the barriers for everyone to attend. Be sure to buy your ticket at the low $10 price before funds from our amazing community partners run out!

Event Schedule: 

4:30-5:30: Happy hour 

5:30-6:00: Food and Programming

6:00-6:30: Happy Half Hour

Ticket sales end July 12th at 1:30PM.

Singer/Songwriter Opens Carpet Booth Music Production Studio to Fill Gap in Rochester Music Scene

Photo courtesy of Carpet Booth Studios.

Photo courtesy of Carpet Booth Studios.

At only twenty-five years old, musician and entrepreneur Zach Zurn is getting his feet wet in the small business scene in Rochester and learning on-the-go. Although young, Zurn is on the founding team of two other businesses: the tech startup Tinua and the entertainment franchise BubbleBall Rochester. Recently he’s launched his own business, a full production and recording facility called Carpet Booth Studios, to serve the emerging music community in Rochester.

Zurn, a Texas native, is inspired by many musical influences like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bee Gees, and other golden oldies of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. His parents were themselves musicians and he hopped on his mother’s drum kit and started playing at a young age. At thirteen, Zurn became obsessed with the production and recording side of music and began experimenting with microphone placement and the creation of clean, unique audio.

He and some friends rigged up a makeshift production studio in his mom’s basement, tacking old carpet to the inside of a closet to create a dead vocal booth where they would record covers and original songs.

“And that’s actually where the name Carpet Booth Studios comes from,” Zurn explained. “It pays homage to [Carpet Booth’s] humble, humble, humble beginnings.”

Growing up, Zurn played in several small bands, toured, and most importantly, wrote songs. After graduating from Winona State University with a degree in Music, he worked at a church in Rochester in music and media and rented out various studio spaces around town for music production.

With the exit of friend Jim Fricker’s North Coast Productions last fall, Zurn saw an immense need for a full-time production and recording studio in Rochester. Three months ago, he opened Carpet Booth Studios on the corner of 2nd Street Northeast and Broadway to fill that gap.

Carpet Booth Studios is a full-service production and recording house, facilitating any type of audio recording service like voiceover, full EP and album production, podcasting, session work, and songwriting.

Word of mouth in the music community has organically helped the business grow so far.

In addition to running this budding business, Zurn is developing his own career as a solo singer and songwriter. He’s created works for several businesses around town, such as Nalu Float, where he was hooked up with an hour-long float session and wrote a twelve-minute ambient piece that “musically displayed how my emotions were feeling at that moment.”

Just this month, Zurn released his original single “Losing My Head,” which he calls a slow-roasted, crock pot tune addressing his self-confidence issues and fears.

“I’m kind of a melancholy person at heart,” Zurn said. “I think I’m a happy person because I don’t express my melancholy in my everyday life because I express it as a songwriter through my art.”

Zurn says he second guesses himself constantly, questioning if he’s talented enough to make it in the music industry. Everyone deals with self-doubt at some point, he explained, “especially if you’re an entrepreneur because your entire existence is a risk.”

Songwriting has been a healing process for Zurn. He says the oxymoronic pairing of despondent lyric with the bright music of “Losing My Head” should not work, but it gives insight to “the psychosis of what happens in my head.”

This fall, he plans to release a four song EP, including this single, which will be quite diverse in genre.

Zurn says for artists like himself concerned with “the craft of songwriting and the craft of creating this visual and sonic experience for a show,” there just aren’t many performance options right now in Rochester’s music scene. After Midwest Skate Park closed in late 2010 and Wicked Moose this year, there are a real lack of venues for concert-style performances in Rochester.

The recent opening of The Jive Mill near Carpet Booth Studios was a welcome addition to the scene, although this venue is tapped at about fifty people.

Open mic nights at places like Forager Brewery, C4, and The Rochester Art Center also provide an opportunity for emerging artists.

“But again, the thing that I see about the music industry, as far as live playing goes, is that other than The Jive Mill just opening up, which is so great, there are not places to play where you go for a show,” Zurn affirmed. “That brings the conversation to the Armory.”

The Rochester City Council is moving forward with discussion of two proposals for the former senior center, one of which would create a multi-use entertainment venue in the historic facility. This proposal- from Entourage Events Group, Fine Line Music Café, and local representative Sunny Prabhakar- would create space for both national and local music acts.

Right now, Zurn sees an entire music community germinating organically in the area surrounding the Armory building, which includes his own Carpet Booth Studios, The Jive Mill, Avalon Music, Northstar Bar, and Welhaven Music.

“We do have a little music compound, a little music district, popping up right here in Rochester, which is super cool. And I’m stoked to be a part of it,” Zurn said.

New Initiative to Gage Interest in Shared Community Kitchen Space in Rochester

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In the wake of the food truck and specialty food movements, another movement is growing.  The past four years have seen an increase in the number of kitchen incubators in the U.S.  Kitchen incubators are shared use commercial kitchen spaces that are rented out on an hourly or monthly basis to food entrepreneurs.  They may or may not include other support services for new businesses such as food safety education, technical assistance, and office space.  For one Minnesotan example, Midwest Pantry just recently unveiled their plans for a building in the St. Anthony neighborhood of Minneapolis that includes six commercial kitchen spaces and additional office space.

With the passage of Rochester's food truck ordinance and growing farmer's market, Rochester is poised on the verge of a local food renaissance.  A shared commercial kitchen space could be the key for a new entrepreneur to finally sell their grandmother's famous lefse or host their first pop up dinner.  In addition to increased food diversity, communities have also benefited from a shared commercial kitchen through food literacy programs, cooking classes, and training for at risk youth.  Successful businesses "graduate" from the incubator to opening their own space which contributes to the local economy.  Local farmers could reduce their food waste through using the kitchen to freeze or can their unsold produce.

In order for a shared commercial kitchen facility to become a reality in Rochester, general interest in its usage needs to be measured.  Any interested food entrepreneurs should fill out the survey located here.

Rochester Rising to Mark One Year Anniversary with Community Celebration

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Rochester Rising was launched in July 18, 2016 to amplify the stories of Rochester entrepreneurs and give a voice to the city’s emerging entrepreneurial community. Over the past year, we’ve told the stories of over 104 different entrepreneurs, operating across ten different industries. Hopefully, we’ve helped to make a difference in Rochester’s entrepreneurial community during this time.

To celebrate this milestone, we’re throwing a one year birthday party on Wednesday July 19th from 4:30-6:30 PM at Grand Rounds Brew Pub. So mark your calendars. More information and ticket sales will roll out in a few weeks.

Rochester Rising would not exist without the support of the growing entrepreneurial community here. This birthday event is not just to mark a milestone for Rochester Rising, but is a time to celebrate the progress of the entire entrepreneurial and innovation community of Rochester over the past year.

As part of this festivity, we would like to invite one entrepreneur who has told their story on Rochester Rising over the past year to give a brief talk at this event to tell a bit more of their story or share a big idea they have about entrepreneurship.

We want you, the entrepreneurial community, to tell us who you want to hear more from.

Click here to access a form with some of the local entrepreneurs that we’ve featured on Rochester Rising this year. Choose up to three innovators that you’d like to hear more from at this celebration.

Voting will end on Monday June 26th.