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Tale of Two Cities: Cleveland

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- As plans for Destination Medical Center begin to take shape, those in charge of Rochester's future have been seeking outside advice and inspiration. So in October, the figureheads of DMC and KTTC's Devin Bartolotta packed their bags and took their talents to Cleveland.

Although many of us may not view Cleveland as a destination, the Cleveland Clinic really is big-time competition for Mayo Clinic, which is why the Ohio city is one of those chosen for a DMC visit.

“I think it's one of the smartest things we're doing,” said Lisa Clarke of the EDA board.

In the past 10 years, the metro of Cleveland has become a destination of its own. It was even selected to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Downtown Cleveland has been transformed from abandoned skyscrapers, to multi-use buildings that contain luxury apartments and upscale restaurants, while still preserving historic features.

It boasts iconic architecture like the building that houses the Museum of Contemporary Art, and new, modern housing to encourage living downtown.

"What's evident in Cleveland is that they were really building an empire," said DMC Master Planner Peter Cavaluzzi. "And the architecture and public spaces are really about creating a great city."

In physical size, Cleveland is about one-third larger than Rochester. When it comes to population, Cleveland is about four times as dense.

Although Cleveland and Rochester have many differences, one of the biggest similarities is the medical industry in these two cities. The competition between Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic is only going to heat up as DMC comes into fruition.

"I always knew that if you put the Cleveland Clinic against the Mayo Clinic we'd win every time,” said DMCC Board's R.T. Rybak. “And I always thought, 'boy we can knock Cleveland out of the park.' Not true anymore."

With a backstage pass to the Cleveland Clinic, we got an up-close look at one of Mayo's biggest competitors and learned about a second medical monument: University Hospitals. Just like Mayo in Rochester, the Cleveland Clinic lies at the economic center of the city.

“It used to be an isolated area of prosperity in the midst of a poverty-stricken area,” said DMCC Board Member Susan Park Rani. “And Cleveland Clinic along with UHC, University Health Care system, and the City of Cleveland have come together as a group."

Up next, we stopped by the Global Center for Healthcare Innovation. It's a place similar to the design of Discovery Square and a one stop shop for all things healthcare.

“You walk in here and thinking 'oh my goodness, everything you might utilize in the delivery of healthcare is here,'” said DMCC Board Member James Campbell. “It strikes me that someone had the vision to take a concept that's been around for years and years, furniture marts, and tailor make it for the healthcare industry."

We also spent a significant amount of time in The Arcade, a historic building with a glass ceiling that might remind you of the Light Pavilion planned for above Peace Plaza.

“It's an icon, historic icon, beautiful soaring glass roof, something that was built over a hundred years ago,” Cavaluzzi said.

Right across the street is a space that might remind you of something back home, strolling through.

"East Fourth Street is the same kind of environment that we have the potential to create between Peace Plaza and the Convention Center to create a real destination,” Cavaluzzi said.

In 13 hours, we saw it all for ourselves. Some say Cleveland is cool now. Maybe even too cool, if you ask R.T. Rybak.

"I've seen a lot of good news for Cleveland, which is kind of bad news for Rochester,” Rybak said. “Because we can no longer count on the fact that people will rather come to Rochester than Cleveland, which is getting to be a very cool city. This just reminds us we need to up our game."

So how did they do it? A big theme we heard during meetings with Cleveland community leaders was that the rising tide must lift all boats.

“They also say this has taken us a long, long time. Sometimes as long as 30 years. Now hopefully what happens in Rochester is a much more compressed time table,” Rani said.

It took a lot of cooperation through living, buying, and hiring local to come a long way.

"The leaders of the community said 'Don't start with a small vision. You will regret it.' Start big, start with a big, bold vision, and go for it,” Clarke said.

And after all, if Cleveland can do it, why can't Rochester?

“Rochester, I've said before, is the largest small city in the world. We have a chance to create that here, and again I think it can become the world's hometown for healthcare,” Cavaluzzi said. “I think those are some of the lessons I feel like I've taken away from this trip to Cleveland."

The day after Devin Bartolotta left the group in Cleveland, they went on to yet another city, Indianapolis, where they got even more feedback and ideas.

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