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One Minnesota Town Makes List Of ‘Best Small Cities’.

Rochester, the home of the Mayo Clinic, ranks as the 47th best small city in the nation, according to a new report published this week by researchers at Resonance Consultancy, which offers advice on real estate, tourism and economic development. The firm ranked America’s large and small cities using data and qualitative assessments in six categories: place, product, promotion, prosperity, people and programming, explained below.

Here is a breakdown of Rochester’s rankings out of 50 cities.

•Place: 35 •Product: 75 •Programming: 85 •People: 24 •Prosperity: 20 •Promotion: 102.

The top two small cities couldn’t be more different — respectively, Honolulu, located on Hawaii’s biggest island, and Omaha, Nebraska, which springs up from the cornfields of the Midwest. The report praised Honolulu for its “unparalleled natural beauty” — no argument there — and Omaha for its booming local economy. Indeed, billionaire Warren Buffett still lives in his modest Midwest home and Omaha is home to eight Fortune 500 companies.

  “Thanks in no small part to Buffett, Omaha earns our #1 ranking for prosperity, with the most Fortune 500s (eight) of any city with less than a million people (earning it another #1 ranking for that category as well),” the report said. “But it’s not just stalwarts like Mutual of Omaha that keep this city bustling: a growing tech sector has earned Omaha the nickname ‘Silicon Prairie.’

” After Omaha, the cities rounding out the top five were Charleston, South Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. While more than a handful of so-called “best city” rankings are published throughout the year, the Resonancy report stands apart for its comprehensiveness, according to Bloomberg.

It’s “the most comprehensive study of its kind; it identifies cities that are most desirable for locals, visitors, and business people alike, rather than simply looking at livability or tourism appeal,” Bloomberg said.

About The Measurement Categories

The promotion ranking reflects the number of stories, references and recommendations shared online about a city. It includes metrics such as Facebook check-ins, Google search results and TripAdvisor reviews. The place category refers to how people view a city’s natural and built environment. These measurements include the number of sunny days expected, crime rate, number of recommended quality neighborhoods and landmarks, and number of quality parks and outdoor activities are available.

Product was often the most challenging metric for cities, the report said. It looks at major institutions and infrastructure, which can be “expensive and difficult to develop and maintain.” Metrics include number of direct airline destinations served by nearby airports, the number of recommended attractions and museums, the ranking of the best local university and even the number of major sports teams.

The prosperity category assessed metrics such as typical household income and number of Global 500 businesses in a city, while the people category looked at population diversity and educational attainment of residents.

Programming evaluated the “experiential pillars of a great visit.” This includes recommended performing arts, cultural experiences and nightlife, as well as number of great restaurants and shopping venues.

(Patch national staffer Dan Hampton contributed to this report).

Living the American Dream can mean different things to different people when it comes to their material situation.

For some, it might mean a white picket fence. For others, it might mean a gilded penthouse high above a big city. Generally, though, most people agree that the American Dream is about living a full and fulfilling life, surrounded by a community of people doing the same. It means having economic opportunity, having the ability to save enough to own the place where you lay your head at night and living someplace where people from all walks of life can live comfortably. ‘SmartAsset’ combed through data to find the cities where the American Dream is most achievable. Specifically, we considered the five metrics: homeownership rate, diversity rate, upward mobility rate, median home value and unemployment rate. This is the 2019 edition of this study.

1. Aurora, IL Aurora, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, is at the top of our list. It has the highest diversity score in the top 10 and ranks well for economic mobility, coming in third place in this list for this metric. Aurora doesn’t lead any single metric we used to determine the best cities for living the American Dream, but places solidly in all of them.

2. Odessa, TX The highest-ranked Texan city in our top 10 is Odessa, located in the western part of the state. This town is another all-around performer. It has the highest score for economic mobility on our list. It also has a homeownership rate of 63.08%, which is the second-highest rate in this top 10.

3. Midland, TX Midland, Texas, another city in the western part of the state, comes in at No. 3. Midland has the lowest unemployment rate in our top 10, at 2.30%. It also ranks well in other metrics, including the second-highest economic mobility rate of all of the other cities on this list.

4. West Valley City, UT West Valley City, Utah lost its top spot on the list this year, but it still places a respectable fourth. It is tied for the second-lowest unemployment rate on this list, at 2.80%.

5. Abilene, TX Abilene, Texas brings us back to the Lone Star State to round out the top half of this list. Located in Central Texas, Abilene has a homeownership rate of more than 60% and a median home value of $114,900 (the lowest home value in our top 10). Diversity suffers, however: Abilene has the worst diversity score among Texas cities in the top 10.

6. Round Rock, TX Round Rock, Texas, located near Austin, is the final Lone Star State town on this list. The unemployment rate is 3.40%, and it has a homeownership rate of 67.79%. Round Rock, however, does have the highest average home value in the top 10, at $267,500.

7. Des Moines, IA Des Moines, Iowa is the first of two cities in Iowa in the top 10. The city does not have a good diversity index score, ranking seventh for this metric out of the top 10, but it has a relatively low unemployment rate of 3.30%.

8. Cedar Rapids, IA Next up is Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which has the second-worst score for diversity on this list. Cedar Rapids also has the highest homeownership rate of all our top 10 cities, at 73.99%.

9. Rochester, MN Rochester, Minnesota is the only representative from the North Star State in this top 10. Rochester has the second-highest homeownership rate in the top 10, at 72.40%. The average home value there is $211,900, which is the third-highest figure for the cities on this list.

Rochester, MN Ranked Highest for Resilience

The Resilience Capacity Index ranks 361 metropolitan areas for their capacity to recover from stresses — recession, natural disaster, etc. — relatively unscathed.

Metropolitan areas in the South and West did not score well in a new ranking called the Resilience Capacity Index that is available on the website of Building Resilient Regions (BRR), a group of experts whose research is supported by the MacArthur Foundation. The top-ranked metro area is Rochester, Minn., while the lowest-ranked is College Station-Bryan, Texas. The rankings were released July 11.

Houston, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Miami all ranked near the bottom of the index.

BRR Network member Kathryn Foster of the University of Buffalo’s Regional Institute created the index. She explained in a Q&A on the BRR website that 12 factors are included in the scoring. They are grouped into three categories: regional economy, social and demographic factors, and community connectivity. She said network research shows “there are two basic ways to think about resilience. One is as a performance measure -— how well did my region respond to and recover from a stress? The other is as a capacity measure —- how well positioned is my region to respond and recover effectively from a stress? The RCI focuses on capacity. It is a single ranking number that accounts for 12 factors we believe make regions more resilient.”

Regional economy factors are economic diversification, income equality, regional affordability, and overall business environment. Social and demographic factors are educational attainment in the region, percentage of the population living in poverty, percentage with disabilities, and percentage with health insurance. Community connectivity include voter participation, homeownership, how long people have lived in the region, and civic infrastructure.

Asked why civic participation and health insurance are included, she said civic participation is an indicator of civic engagement. Having community networks affords communities a foundation for assistance and support during crises and also a way for residents to become involved in their own communities, she said, and having health insurance provides a foundation for social, physical, and economic security.

Want the Best Hospital Care in the U.S.? Head to Rochester, Minnesota

For the best medical care in the United States, you should probably head to Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic, located in Rochester, tops the latest U.S. News rankings of the country’s best hospitals for children and adults. For the 27th annual list, U.S. News compared 5000 medical centers across the country, ranking them on their quality of general care as well as their expertise in 25 specialties.

The rankings are based on data pertaining to patient survival rates, number of patients, infection rates, staffing numbers, and other objective measures. Here are the top 20 hospitals in the general excellence rankings:

1. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
2. Cleveland Clinic
3. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
4. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
5. UCLA Medical Center
6. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
7. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
8. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
9. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia
10. NYU Langone Medical Center
11. Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St. Louis
12. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, Pittsburgh
13. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
14. Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital, Stanford, California
15. Mount Sinai Hospital, New York
16. Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina
17. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
18. University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor
19. Houston Methodist Hospital
20. University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora

School’s back in Session!

That yellow flashing light means the bus is preparing to stop; the red light means children are getting on or off. A bus stop is less than a minute, but that’s all it takes for something bad to happen.
The bus can control two lanes: the lane it’s in and the next lane over. On a divided highway with a median, the cars behind the bus must top, but the cars on the other side do not. On a two-lane road, all traffic — behind and in front of the bus — must stop.

Avoid the ticket, and more importantly, keep our kids safe; watch for the red lights and stop!

Rochester, Twin Cities Ranked Among Most Innovative On Earth

ROCHESTER, MN — Innovation isn’t easy. Case in point, your kids have heard of Netflix and Facebook, but will give you a blank look if you talk about Blockbuster or MySpace, two companies routinely listed among the biggest to fail specifically because they didn’t innovate.

So when we say three Minnesota cities were just ranked among the most innovative on Earth, it’s — with apologies to Ron Burgundy and the movie “Anchorman” — kind of a big deal.

The Australian data research company 2thinknow, which crunches numbers from cities across the globe, released its 11th annual Innovation Cities Index rankings of the world’s 500 most innovative cities this month. Cities that innovate more tend to bring in more revenue, create more jobs and become the best places to invest, the company said in a release.

The index is meant to measure how well a city creates an environment that encourages innovation. It uses more than 160 indicators based on comparative data sold to corporations.

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro, 61
  • Rochester, 275

This year, Tokyo, Japan — dubbed the “robot capital” of the world — became the first Asian city to be named most innovative on Earth. Tokyo proved it had a clear direction by embracing “smart technology change” to lead innovation, the authors found. It also emerged as a leader in two sectors that will be key to the future: robotics and 3D manufacturing.

“What really surprised us this year, was the resurgence of Tokyo, moving up to eclipse rival cities like Boston,” Christopher Hire, the company’s director data, said in a release.

He added: “While it was close between London and Tokyo, support of new technologies gave it to Tokyo based on 2018 trends, although this could change in 2019.”San Francisco, thanks in large part to the flourishing tech industries in Silicon Valley, was named the most innovative city in America and ranked third overall. New York City and Los Angeles also cracked the top five overall, claiming the fourth and fifth spots behind No. 2 London.

Here are the top 10 U.S. cities that made the list, as well as their overall ranking.

  1. San Francisco (3)
  2. New York (4)
  3. Los Angeles (5)
  4. Boston (7)
  5. Chicago (11)
  6. Dallas-Fort Worth (13)
  7. Seattle (15)
  8. Houston (17)
  9. Atlanta (20)
  10. San Diego (23)

The U.S. performed particularly well, with 37 cities appearing in the top 100. California had the most cities on the list with 12. Florida had the second-most with six cities while New York and Virginia each had five. Some U.S. cities dramatically improved their rankings this year due to what the company called favorable trends and improved economic development. Chicago jumped up nine spots to No. 11 in the world, Seattle improved by six spots to 15th and Austin zoomed up 18 spots to No. 29.

The myriad startup and tech scenes cropping up show the U.S. economy has “strong grass roots of opportunity positivity,” the analysts noted. Much of that is due to how Americans are coming up with new ways to do business “as a service,” such as ride-hailing apps and subscription services for software and clothing. Such ideas allow for new ways for companies to make money on undervalued assets in the digital economy.

The authors also pointed to the success of smaller cities, which performed very well in the rankings.

“This year innovation is likely to come from large cities as usual, but we found on a population-adjusted basis many small cities are punching above their weight. It’s the year of big cities with physical networks and small cities with digital networks, going global,” Hire said.

Films under the stars this summer

Tired of shivering in air-conditioned theaters and paying too much for candy and popcorn? Outdoor movies have the solution. And with options all over Southern Minnesota, your next family night is just a short drive away. As always, check the movies’ ratings and start times before bringing extremely young children.

Movies in the Park

Bring a lawn chair or blanket to Central Park (225 1st Ave. NW, Rochester) for free monthly movies hosted by the Rochester Downtown Alliance. The 9 p.m. movie start time may rule out younger kids, outdoor activities begin at 7. Food and drinks are available for purchase on-site.

  • July 7 – Jumanji
  • Aug. 18 – Coco
  • Sept. 15 – Safe Haven

Movies Under the Stars

The History Center (1195 W Circle Dr. SW, Rochester) has three outdoor movie nights in August, shown on Schmitt Field. General admission is $5, but seniors and children under 12 get in free. Leave the pets and coolers at home, but feel free to grab snacks and drinks before the movie starts at 8:30 p.m.

  • Aug. 10 – CARS 3
  • Aug. 24 – Moana
  • Aug. 31- SING

Byron’s Movies at City Hall

Visit our neighbors to the west for monthly movies on the lawn of Byron’s City Hall (680 Byron Main Ct. NE, Byron). Movies are hosted by the Byron Good Neighbor Days Committee. Bring your own snacks and lawnchairs.

  • July 20 – Finding Dory
  • Aug. 17 – Wonder

Four Daughters Vineyard

About 30 minutes outside of Rochester, Four Daughters Vineyard (78757 Hwy 16, Spring Valley) is screening movies among the grapes. BYO blankets and chairs, and kick back (maybe with a glass of wine?). The free movies begin at 8:30 p.m.

  • July 11 – Pretty Woman
  • July 25 – Apollo 13
  • Aug. 8 – Overboard
  • Aug. 22 – The Greatest Showman

Summer salad is a crowd pleaser

Jennifer Segal graduated from culinary school and spent the early years of her career working in the high-pressure kitchens of fancy restaurants. She realized that way of life wasn’t for her, so when she started a family, she stayed home and started a food blog, Once Upon a Chef (, which features family-friendly recipes that are created with a chef’s expertise.

Her recipes are now collected in a cookbook of the same name — “Once Upon a Chef: 100 Tested, Perfected and Family-Approved Recipes.” Segal says she used the readers of her blog as volunteers to test recipes and help her decide which to include in the book.

In the introduction for this Black Bean & Corn Salad, Segal describes it as a make-ahead crowd pleaser that’s perfect for summer entertaining.

“Whether I serve it as a salad with grilled chicken or as a dip with tortilla chips (highly recommend!),” she writes, “the bowl is always empty and the plates are always full.”

Black Bean & Corn Salad With Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette

Serves 6

For the salad

2 ears fresh corn

1 cup finely chopped red onion

One 15½-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus a bit more for garnish

1 avocado

For the dressing

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 1 lime

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

2 small chipotle chiles in adobo sauce from a can (see note)

To make the salad: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn, cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the corn from the pot and let cool.

Meanwhile, place the chopped red onion in a small bowl and cover with water. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then drain completely in a sieve and set aside.

One at a time, holding the cooled corn upright in a large bowl, cut the kernels off the cobs in strips.

Add the beans, onion, bell pepper and cilantro to the corn.

To make the dressing: In a blender or mini food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine all of the dressing ingredients and process until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the bean and corn mixture and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.

Right before serving, cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Using a butter knife, cut a grid in each half. Holding each avocado half over the salad, use a spoon to scoop out the diced flesh. Toss the salad gently, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary (I usually add a squeeze of fresh lime to freshen it up). Garnish with a bit of fresh chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve cold.

Note: Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are small dried and smoked peppers (usually red jalapeños) that come in a spicy, smoky tomato sauce. You can find them in the Latin section of most supermarkets. Once you open a can, you can transfer any remaining chiles to a plastic or glass container and store in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze in a sealable plastic bag for up to 6 months.

Reprinted with permission from “Once Upon a Chef by Jennifer Segal”; Chronicle Books, 2018

Library offers more the 30,000 e-books to Minnesota residents

ROCHESTER, Minn.- Southeastern Libraries Cooperating and the Rochester Public Library are teaming up to offer more e-books for Minnesota residents.
More than 30,000 books added online.
Kim Edson has been a librarian in Rochester Public Library for more than 20-years. Today, she’s the head of readers services and said this is a way for the library to serve everyone on the go.
“The demand for digital material as far exceeded out ability to provide them this allows us to extend our reach with digital materials and try to address some of that demand in a cost effective way,” said the librarian.
It doesn’t matter where you access the book, it could be at home or at any library in Minnesota.
All you’ll need is your library card number.

I’ve heard that a castle once stood at the top of Rochester’s Pill Hill. Is that true? It sounds impossible. — Virginia, Rochester

Well, as you know, here at Answer Man World HQ, we deal in the impossible. So yes, Virginia, there once was a castle at the top of Pill Hill. But this wasn’t a castle like you would see in Camelot, occupied by knights of the roundtable.
In fact, Willson’s Castle, as it was called, was a “castle” in name only. It stood at what was then 900 W. College Street — now Fourth Street Southwest — at the top of Pill Hill. It was the home of Charles Cudworth Willson, who arrived in Rochester in the 1850s and practiced law for 60 years. He was Rochester royalty, you might say.
Ken Allsen’s fine book, “Old College Street” tells the tale of Willson’s Castle.
Willson built his home, which he called Red Oaks, at the highest point of Pill Hill, and then topped it with a 75-foot tower. Everyone in town took to calling the mansion “Willson’s Castle,” either in awe or in jest, and in no time at all Red Oaks receded into history.
The upper level of the tower, by the way, had windows on all four sides — imagine the view from up there!
Willson and his family lived in the castle until 1918 when Willson, then 89 and a widower, moved down the hill a bit to lodge with his daughter at the College Apartments. After sitting vacant for a few months, the castle caught fire that summer and burned to the ground.
The rubble of the castle served as a dangerous playground for local kids until the site was cleaned up and covered with soil. There’s no trace of the castle up there on the hill today, but those in the know — namely your not-too-humble servant — know exactly where Rochester’s castle once stood.