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Update: Hormel Foundation gifts $23M to Institute

Published 11:11am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Extra $9.5 million to be used to recruit scientists

With extra funding in place, The Hormel Institute hopes to attract about 20 of the world’s best cancer research scientists.

The Austin-based institute announced Tuesday it received a $23-million donation from the Hormel Foundation for its expansion project, with $9.5 million for recruiting scientists to lead each of its roughly 20 new laboratories. The rest of the funds will match a $13.5-million grant from the state — through the legislature’s 2012 bonding bill — to pay for the $27-million expansion set for groundbreaking during the first half of 2014.

“This is a great milestone for The Hormel Institute and the foundation, and we’re just proud to be a part of it,” Hormel Foundation Treasurer Jerry Anfinson said. “The Institute is extremely excited, and I can’t express how excited we are.”

Anfinson said it’s great to invest in a new facility, but it’s the scientists who make it successful.

“We don’t want to spend money up front for brick and mortar and not have funds for scientists,” he said. “We’re looking for the top scientists in the world. We have the funds to be able to recruit.”

Anfinson estimates it costs about $700,000 to recruit a lead scientist, which also includes providing them with customized state-of-the-art labs and relocating their assistants. With each lead scientist bringing at least five assistants, they hope to create a minimum of 100 to 120 new jobs.

“It’s a complex process,” Anfinson said. “And we want them to start out with everything being in as ideal condition as it can be.”

Anfinson says this donation, which has been in the works for about four years, is probably the largest one-time gift the foundation has ever given the Institute.

“The values and generosity of the Hormel Foundation have been essential in making our accomplishments possible,” Dr. Zigang Dong, The Hormel Institute’s executive director, said in a press release. “Our cancer research holds tremendous potential to improve cancer prevention and control protocols; that research can move forward — and now grow — because of the Foundation’s important and critical support.”

Groundbreaking for the expansion was originally slated for the spring of this year, but with numerous entities involved — from The Institute, the foundation and the University of Minnesota, to the Austin Port Authority and the state of Minnesota — it became a complex process that required more time, according to Gail Dennison, Institute public relations director.

“All the collaborations take time,” she said.

Officials hope to wrap up the expansion by 2015, which will likely double the facility’s size. The expansion will take place on its existing land, in its east parking lot, and it will use many of the 23 properties it purchased east of its facility for parking.

“This is the kind of investment that Jay Hormel envisioned when he created the Foundation,” Gary Ray, The Hormel Foundation chairman, said in a press release. “The Institute is engaged in world-class, cutting-edge research into cancer prevention and treatment that benefits all of us. And, because that work is being done right here in Austin, the Institute helps energize our local and state economies, enhances our reputation as an attractive, diverse destination and brings some of the world’s leading health researchers to our community.”

Ray noted a fundraising campaign also will be launched in the fall of 2013 to raise an additional $3 million to support research. This past month The Hormel Institute’s research was featured on the cover of Cancer Research, the top cancer journal in the United States.

The Hormel Foundation contributed $16.7 million toward The Institute’s 2006-2008 major expansion and renovation project. The $24.3 million project added 20 state-of-the-art research labs and allowed for The Institute to create its ICRT to acquire and house today’s cutting-edge, cancer-fighting tools, including two IBM supercomputers, a protein crystallography lab, a mass spectrometer and 3-D technology.

This summer, The Institute plans to hire new department section leaders and scientists to fill the remaining research space provided by the last expansion. Currently, facility has 12 research sections — more than double the number when the last expansion project broke ground in 2006.

About The Hormel Foundation

The Hormel Foundation was established in 1941 by Hormel Foods Corp.’s founder George A. Hormel and his son, Jay C. Hormel, to serve as a charitable organization to benefit the Austin community. For many years, The Hormel Institute was the sole recipient of the foundation’s funds, outside of the Hormel family.

Today, The Hormel Foundation ranks sixth in annual giving among Minnesota’s largest community/public foundations and public charity grant makers, with those in the lead located in the Twin Cities, according to the

Minnesota Council on Foundations. In 2013, the foundation is giving $6 million in grants to numerous Austin-area organizations.

For more, visit hormelfoundation.com.


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  • dj

    The Hormel Institute should be studying the benefits of Hemp and Cannabis. 20 States are using both to treat cancer patients. It’s time to repeal prohibition!

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  • happy4th

    How does this benefit the local economy? I’m not being a wize acre. I was sort of expecting “more” from the first build if you know what I mean. Where are these people living and shopping? Will I see 100 new nicer homes? 50?

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    • LEXXfan

      My understanding is that quite a few of the corporate Hormel people live in Rochester now, so I’m guessing some of the Institute people probably do as well. I kind of doubt that’s what Jay had in mind when he set up the Hormel Foundation. Too bad that Hormel seems to feel that their people are too good to “have” to live in Austin anymore. Austin is a microcosm of what has been happening in this country for many years now. Me thinks it’s time to limit the amount of immigration going on in this country before we become a third-world country. These business entities wouldn’t be able to operate as they do now if they didn’t have such a willing supply of foreign-born labor to draw from.

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  • Pamela D. Best

    Actually, it was my understanding that housing was also being built for the staff. Did that change? Amazing opportunity for Austin.

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  • darb02

    Austin needs good housing otherwise these scientists will ALL live in Roch. Why don’t developers see this opportunity? Where is all the new construction?

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