Longtime RDDC president to retire

Heidi Zimmer-Meyer
Heidi Zimmer-Meyer

Longtime Rochester Downtown Development Corp. leader Heidi Zimmer-Meyer will retire at the end of the year, the organization said Monday afternoon.

“This has been an exhilarating ride,” Zimmer-Meyer said in a statement. “Here we are in 2021 with a thriving downtown innovation zone, vibrant arts and culture, bustling vertical neighborhoods and a growing hub for foodies and nightlife. When we get beyond COVID-19, downtown will explode with activity. There is massive pent-up demand to come together as a community again.”

Zimmer-Meyer has been with the nonprofit organization for nearly four decades, the last 18 of which were at the helm.

“Significant leadership changes are never easy, but Heidi is handing over a stronger organization at a time when downtown’s momentum is really accelerating,” said RDDC Chairman Chris Hill. “So much is in motion — the Inner Loop East developments, Innovation Square, Aqueduct District, Sibley Square, Neighborhood of Play, ROC the Riverway and 16 housing projects — just unbelievable.”

Under Zimmer-Meyer’s leadership, RDDC built the Commissary in the Sibley Square building, the first food business incubator and shared kitchen in the region and the only one of its kind in Upstate New York. She created and operated a second corporation, Downtown Special Services Inc., which for 15 years ran the Downtown Guides, Red Shirts program and Downtown Information Center.

Zimmer-Meyer led the creation of the Cypher, a downtown youth arts center that ran for three years and offered an afterschool alternative to the streets. During her tenure at RDDC, downtown grew from 1,575 residents to more than 8,500, 60 buildings were converted to housing and 24 newly constructed housing projects were built, including six currently under construction. Zimmer-Meyer guided RDDC from its original role as a business association to becoming an active economic development entity.

RDDC’s board of directors has appointed a search committee which is managing the recruitment of a new leader in preparation for a seamless transition later this year. Zimmer-Meyer plans to retire on Dec. 31.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer