Carol Nelson’s $5,000 bathroom remodeling is not the kind of project you think of in connection with Destination Medical Center.
Carol’s home improvement project, which dates from a few years ago, became famous last week when a Minnesota Public Radio news story noted that home fix-ups such as hers count toward the total private investment in the DMC development district, triggering state money.
That was news to some people, and even former state Rep. Kim Norton, who helped escort the DMC legislation through the Capitol in 2013, remarked that home projects don’t seem to fit the mission. Carol was as surprised as anyone that her project was chalked up for DMC purposes, telling MPR she didn’t think it was so interesting that it would be counted.
The story noted that a church installed a new air conditioning unit for $28,000 — that would be at Zumbro Lutheran Church — and a local business spent $13,000 on a new roof. Those and many more projects, such as demolition for expansion of the Ronald McDonald House on Second Street Southwest — have chipped in to push DMC’s total private investment over the $200 million mark.
That announcement was a major event in the DMC story, right up there with Jan. 30, 2013, when the initiative was unveiled, and May 20 of that year, when the Legislature approved it. Assuming the state certifies DMC’s report that it has cleared $200 million in private investment to date, the city can begin tapping state money. This year, that would amount to about $2.68 million.
To those who doubted that DMC was getting off the ground, the announcement leaves no further doubt. Through Dec. 31, 2015, the total Mayo expenditures were $131 million, with another $20 million in non-Mayo private development. Last year’s total, when certified, will put the total well past $200 million.
Regarding Carol’s bathroom and Zumbro Lutheran’s air conditioning system, that’s how the law is written, and it’s recognition that new capital investment of any kind within the development district contributes to the dynamics of DMC’s growth. Obviously, it’s the giant projects such as the $124 million, 19-story Hilton now under construction on South Broadway, or the $214 million in improvements planned at Saint Marys Hospital that will drive DMC, but a lot of small-business, nonprofit and private residential investment is occurring as well.
That should be no surprise to anyone. If DMC achieves its goals, all boats should rise, not just the cabin cruisers and sailboats of the developers and corporate titans.
As Patrick Seeb, the economic development and place-making director for DMC’s Economic Development Agency, told us recently, “In many ways, the way people will experience (DMC growth) will be much more at the street level — the prosperity being generated” all around us, including new restaurants, businesses and vibrancy downtown, new housing options, new demand for retail and more.
This prosperity won’t happen overnight, but there’s no more sure indication that it’s happening than that the $200 million benchmark has been hit, with projects large and small, and the city, which has invested heavily in DMC, will now begin reaping the benefits.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ROCHESTER POST-BULLETIN