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History of Innovation

December 15, 2010

Related Document: HistoryofInnovation.doc

Rochester, Minn. Convention & Visitors Bureau History of Innovation Fact Sheet

Rochester, Minn., a city located in the southeast part of the state, is known as a great place to live, work and visit.  Rochester combines the best aspects of an innovative and cosmopolitan city with the charm of a small town environment.  Rochester has the sophistication of a large metro area, but not the congestion or complications of the big city.

Rochester History

George Head founded Rochester in the late 1840s.  Head came from Rochester, N.Y. looking for a chance to prosper in a new area.  He named Rochester, Minn. after his hometown, and in 1857 Rochester was named the Olmsted County seat.  Rochester was known as a stagecoach stop for travelers who journeyed between St. Paul, Minn. and Dubuque, Iowa.  When the railroad came to town in the 1870s, it brought with it a number of new residents and a wealth of business opportunities.

In 1869, The Minnesota Guide, a handbook of information for travelers and immigrants, described Rochester as "a fine business point" with a population of 4,500 "and growing rapidly."  Designed to entice settlers to the area, the guide further stated of the young city, "It is neatly and handsomely built, many of the buildings being of brick, and very substantial.  There are several fine churches, two or three hotels and a number of stores, many of them first class."

Today, Rochester is the fastest growing major city in Minnesota.  With a population of over 100,000, Rochester is the state's third largest city.  Rochester has seen an increase in diversity that surpasses any other city its size in the state and it is the primary destination of workers from an area of approximately 2,300 square miles.  The city has been named the "#6 City for the Next Decade" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance and among the "Best Small Cities in America" by Money Magazine.

Mayo Clinic

On Aug. 21, 1883 tragedy struck when a tornado demolished much of Rochester leaving many dead and several thousand wounded.  There was no medical facility at the time, so Dr. William W. Mayo and his two sons worked together to care for the wounded.  With the help of the Sisters of St. Francis Church and $60,000 in donations, Dr. Mayo opened a new facility named St. Mary's Hospital.  The practice grew immensely and today is one of the largest and most well respected medical facilities in the world - Mayo Clinic.  Its largest employer, the clinic employs over 32,348 people in Rochester.  Today, Mayo Clinic contributes $9.6 billion to the Minnesota economy and one out of 50 Rochester residents is a doctor.

 Mayo Clinic specializes in virtually every medical specialty and provides care for over 1.5 million patients each year from more than 140 countries.  Its strength is its comprehensiveness and its ability to provide diagnosis and treatment of nearly any medical problem.  Mayo Clinic's practice includes more than 100 medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties.

Approximately 80 percent of the patients who come to Mayo Clinic are treated as outpatients and 20 percent are hospitalized.  About 80 percent of Mayo Clinic outpatients are from the Midwest.

A typical day at Mayo Clinic:

  • Outpatient visits: 5,764
  • Admissions to the hospital: 241
  • Surgical procedures: 205
  • Lab tests: 41,000
  • Radiology procedures: 3,779
  • CT scans: 647
  • Chest X-rays: 702
  • MRIs: 244
  • Electrocardiograms: 755
  • Units of blood and blood components used: 213

Biomedical research at Mayo Clinic includes strong programs in basic and clinical research.  Most of the medical staff at the clinic participates in some advanced research activity.  Mayo Clinic is renowned for its research in biomedical technology, brain and nerve disease, cancer, digestive disease, endocrine and metabolic disease, genomics and proteomics, heart, lung and blood, infectious disease, kidney and urological disease, transplant, and bone and muscle disease.


IBM is the largest information technology company in the world with over 370,000 employees worldwide and revenues of more than $98 billion.  Its history dates back to 1911 before the development of electronic computers.  IBM's Rochester campus is one of the largest private employers in the city, employing 4,200 people.  Initially designed by noted architect Eero Saarinen, the campus spans one mile across in the northern part of the city.  The facility plays a significant role in the company's e-business strategy and its team manufactures and develops powerful server and storage products for customers around the world.  The IBM campus in Rochester is home to the most powerful supercomputer, Blue Gene, which can perform 280 trillion operations per second, and its computer chip design lab produces the key components of video game consoles such as Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox.


For more information regarding Rochester's history of innovation, please contact Mary Gastner at 800-634-8277 or mgastner@rochestercvb.org, or visit www.rochestercvb.org.