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Rochester Downtown Development Corp. names new leader to replace the retiring Heidi Zimmer-Meyer

A skyline view of Rochester
Max Schulte
Downtown Rochester skyline view.

Galin Brooks will take over as president and CEO of the Rochester Downtown Development Corp. later this month.

Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, who has led the organization for nearly two decades, is retiring.

Galin Brooks will be the new president and CEO of Rochester Downtown Development Corp. starting June 20, 2022.
Galin Brooks will be the new president and CEO of Rochester Downtown Development Corp. starting June 20, 2022.

Brooks comes to Rochester from Washington, D.C., where she has helped lead business improvement districts in that city’s downtown since 2013. Chris Hill, the local group’s board chair, said that experience was a major factor in the hiring decision.

“She’s an absolute rising star,” Hill said.

Rochester is in the early stages of possibly forming its own business improvement district. A BID, as it’s called, can take on a variety of functions, be it marketing, beautification or event programming. Property owners in the district agree to tax themselves in order to fund those programs.

Over the past two decades, downtown Rochester has grown from 1,500 to 8,500 residents, filling dozens of renovated or newly constructed buildings. More than $2.5 billion has been invested in downtown since 2000.

Mayor Malik Evans has put a focus on downtown improvement. And Brooks takes over as a number of riverfront improvements are underway or soon to be completed.

Brooks — who got her master’s degree in urban planning from New York University — also brings experience working on transportation and mobility issues, and how people get around in urban areas.

She leaves behind the DowntownDC BID, where she was vice president of planning and placemaking. The organization’s other focuses include marketing, beautification, park improvements, and homelessness – operating a day center that provides services and outreach. Before that, she was with a BID operating in the NoMa neighborhood that worked on safety, economic development, beautification, marketing and events.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.