The Hormel Institute is Honored for Tourism
By David Richards | Austin Daily Herald

Published Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In 2006, the Hormel Institute in Austin launched a $23.4 million expansion project, adding a new two-story research building for housing 20 state-of-the-art research laboratories. The official dedication and grand opening of the project was held last October, a celebration that featured 400 in attendance and included Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

On Monday, the Institute was honored by the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau with the CVB’s “Tourism Toplist” award for 2008, given to a person, place or event that impacts the community of Austin and brings tourism to the region.

This is the second year the award has been given, with the Austin Public Library honored last year for its Smithsonian Exhibit called “Key Ingredients.”

“The Institute is very deserving of it,” said Cheryl Corey, executive director for the CVB.

The medical research center, which focuses on cancer prevention and control, is part of the University of Minnesota and a collaborative partner of Mayo Clinic.

“We are honored, and of course, very pleased,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, executive director of the Hormel Institute.

The Institute’s expansion campaign broke several records for donations. The Hormel Foundation gave $13.4 million, Hormel Foods Corporation donated $5 million, and the Austin and regional community gave $1.5 million. In addition, the City of Austin issued a $10 million bond, and Mower County issued a $5 million bond to help the project.

“I think it’s a true asset for Austin, to have the Hormel Institute here and to have the Hormel Foundation that supports the Institute,” said Gail Dennison, public relations and development for The Hormel Institute. “We wouldn’t be here for them, and we wouldn’t be here without this entire community.”

Large groups looking to tour the Hormel Institute can call the CVB at 437-4563.

The Institute also offers an open house on Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. during June, July and August.

This year’s “Tourism Toplist” award comes during National Tourism Week, which runs from May 9 through May 17 and is in its 26th year. This year’s theme is “Travel Matters.”