Helle: Excitement building for Spam Museum

Published 5:56 pm Saturday, February 7, 2015

Excitement is building for the construction of the new Spam Museum at the intersection of Third Ave. and Main Street in downtown Austin.

Hormel Foods Corp. is working with key partners RSP Architects, McGough Construction and Jack Rouse & Associates museum design firm. They expect to start construction this spring with the museum opening in summer 2016.

What is currently the Third Avenue plaza will open for one way traffic to the west. This will facilitate a drop off area for buses and vehicles near the south door of the museum. The Spam retail shop will open off of Main Street, near the Style Lounge Salon. The retail shop can be accessed from the inside or outside as it is in the current museum.

Vision 2020 is working to coordinate a discussion on parking for downtown. Employers, residents and visitors to the neighborhood all need appropriate parking available. Now is the time to plan for a change and best utilize the available space.

Extensive signage and other communication on the parking plan will be critical so downtown Austin can be a welcoming site when traffic starts rolling in to visit the Spam Museum in 2016.

The Vision 2020 Destination Downtown committee is currently conducting a survey of downtown employers to document their needs for employee and customer parking. If you have not had a chance to complete a survey, please contact me at 507-437-3448.

The Vision 2020 Gateway to Austin committee is also working on amenities to welcome guests. They have designed signage to direct visitors to area attractions. They are currently working with the city of Austin on mapping out the locations of the signs. We hope to see the signs installed in 2015. These signs will be a key tool in helping visitors find our tourism attractions such as the Spam Museum, Hormel Historic Home, Mower County Historical Society, Historic Paramount Theater, Austin ArtWorks Center and the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

In addition to attractions, Austin is steadily developing tourism in conventions and bicycling. The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau is booking more and more conventions each year.

Austin CVB Director Nancy Schnable says that our local hospitality businesses are delivering a great experience that keeps convention planners coming back, bringing their dollars to our local economy in the form of lodging, restaurants, retail and gas purchases.

The market for bicycle tourism is expanding and visitors travel from the Twin Cities to enjoy southern Minnesota’s flat terrain and beautiful prairie views. The city of Austin continues to build the extensive trail system within the city—currently over 15 miles of paved trail. Mower County will begin construction on the Shooting Star trail to connect Austin with Rose Creek this summer.

The Vision 2020 Bike Walk Trails committee continues to add amenities to our trail system such as bike racks, a bike fix-it station and QR codes to scan for trail maps. The committee has developed a partnership with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau in order to support Austin’s bids to host bicycle events such as the BAM ride that came through Austin in 2014.

Many of the changes are incremental, but the total impact is big and growing. Austin is transforming itself into a small city for the 21st century—a great place to live, work, play and visit.

Thanks to the hundreds of Vision 2020 volunteers and our many partner agencies for the progress to date. Let’s keep going.

Reminder, Bremer Bank of Austin and Vision 2020 Community Pride & Spirit are collaborating on the Keep the Spirit Alive volunteer service challenge in 2015. To find out more, go to at www.vision2020austin.com/spirit or find us on Facebook at ‘Spread the Spirit in Austin MN.’