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State leaders celebrate start of Hormel Institute expansion

May 28, 2014

State leaders celebrate start of Institute expansion

CONTACT:  Tim Ruzek, The Hormel Institute 507-437-9601; 507-993-2518 (cell); truzek@hi.umn.edu

AUSTIN – Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota celebrated today the start of a new expansion project to nearly double in size and greatly enhance its world-class cancer research.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton joined U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, among more than 350 state and local leaders and Institute supporters, in taking part in a groundbreaking ceremony under a large tent set up in The Hormel Institute’s east parking lot, where the expansion will take place. The three leaders each spoke during the ceremony along with other dignitaries that included Gary Ray, Chair of The Hormel Foundation, and State Sen. David Senjem, who was Senate Majority Leader in 2012 when the Legislature approved $13.5 million in bonding funds for the expansion.

Dayton included The Hormel Institute’s expansion as one of three projects he highlighted when he unveiled his proposed state bonding bill in early 2012. That bonding request – supported strongly by both political parties – led to the state partnering for the first time with The Hormel Institute on a building project, with The Hormel Foundation committing $15 million to the new expansion.

“The expansion of the Hormel Institute is great news for Minnesota, and great news for the hundreds of Minnesotans who will go to work in these new facilities over the next several years,” said Governor Dayton. “The growth of this facility, and the good work that happens here, offers hope to tens of thousands of Minnesotans, and millions of people around the world, who are now suffering from cancer.

Scheduled for completion in August 2015, the $27 million expansion will add 20 state-of-the-art laboratories and better space for The Hormel Institute’s International Center of Research Technology, which includes two IBM supercomputers along with other cutting-edge technologies that accelerate cancer research discoveries. About 120 new faculty and staff jobs are expected to be added over the next few years, growing The Hormel Institute to about 250 employees overall.

Institute leaders also say the expansion will provide a stronger path to commercialization opportunities in Austin and southern Minnesota. Additionally, The Hormel Foundation has committed up to $8 million for recruitment costs to fill the new labs.

“The Hormel Foundation is proud of our significant support of The Hormel Institute since its inception in 1942, continuing one of the foundation’s top goals: To benefit the health of the world through scientific research,” said Gary Ray, Chair of The Hormel Foundation. “The continuing growth of The Hormel Institute is very much part of the vision Jay Hormel had when he created the foundation.”

Austin Port Authority, the city’s economic-development entity, made the bonding request, with the significant help of local legislators Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe. Austin Port Authority will build, own and manage the Institute’s new addition.

This expansion is breaking ground just eight years after the start of The Hormel Institute’s last expansion (2006-2008) that tripled lab space with a 20-lab addition and major renovation of the Institute’s 1960 building. That expansion was fully paid for privately. Since 2006, The Hormel Institute has doubled in employment from about 60 to 120 and from five to 13 research sections.

“All of us at The Hormel Institute are profoundly excited for what the future holds with this new expansion, as our cancer research holds tremendous potential to improve how humans can prevent and treat cancer,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director. “We are deeply grateful to The Hormel Foundation and State of Minnesota for coming together for the cure by supporting this project that will accelerate cancer-research discoveries while enhancing the state’s position as a global leader in bioscience.”

While the main expansion is fully funded, officials with The Hormel Institute also are seeking to raise funding for a new, 250-seat lecture hall on the Institute’s west side, adjacent to its main lobby. The lecture hall – aimed to be part of the expansion construction – would bring scientists from around the world to Austin to share groundbreaking research related to cancer and other diseases and accelerate discoveries through collaborations.   

The Hormel Institute

Started in 1942 by Jay C. Hormel, The Hormel Institute is comprised of a group of highly successful medical scientists who are focused on determining the basic molecular mechanisms of cancer development to develop new anti-cancer agents.