Vision2020: Spam Museum just the beginning of Austin’s future

Published 6:01 am Sunday, April 24, 2016

By Greg Siems

Vision 2020 Director

You’ve all heard the news by now — after the long wait, the Spam Museum is open once again. Its new location will play a big role in making downtown Austin a destination for residents and visitors alike. Folks can check out all of the new interactive displays and old favorites at the museum, followed by a little shopping or a stop at one of the many great restaurants in the area.

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The museum is an invaluable addition to downtown, and bringing it there was an important priority for the Vision 2020 Downtown committee. It serves as a very visible symbol of Austin’s progress and is a testament to what is possible when we all work together.

Hormel Foods deserves a huge amount of credit for its forward thinking in locating the museum in the heart of downtown. At the same time, the museum is an important reminder that building a stronger community cannot be the work of a single organization. A community is, at its core, a web of relationships that are at once personal and professional, cultural and commercial.

We, the citizens of Austin, have to do our part to make sure the museum doesn’t stand alone or become a one-off novelty. We must continue to increase our support for local retail, dining, and other services (both downtown and throughout Austin) to help them succeed and grow. More money circulating in the local economy means more opportunities for everyone — for our businesses, schools, nonprofits, and everyone else involved in making Austin an even better place to live.

Downtown is already growing, with new businesses like Everything Hobby and Willow Cove setting up shop in the past year, and a new book/candy store called Sweet Reads coming later this spring. The new Community Recreation Center, once built, will be an anchor for development along the Fourth Avenue corridor. And there are, of course, many other exciting things going on throughout Austin. The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s new interpretive center is in the works, as is the new Hy-Vee. Great work continues to happen at Riverland, Austin Public Schools, Mayo Clinic Health System, and the Hormel Institute.

We truly have a lot to be thankful for in Austin. It’s not often you see a community of our size with so many large, well respected institutions, such cultural diversity, and a large pool of active community members. This doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of problems, or that there isn’t more work to be done. Far from it. But it’s worth stepping back once in awhile and appreciating everything we have going for us. It’s this appreciation that gives us at Vision 2020 the hope and energy to keep moving forward.

This summer will be an especially fun time to be in Austin. Be sure to mark your calendars on June 3 for the fourth annual Vision 2020 Summer Kickoff event. Downtown Main St. will be blocked off as usual, with fun activities for the whole family and entertainment from local musicians. There is also the big community celebration on July 29 for Hormel’s 125th Anniversary, featuring The Band Perry and many other attractions.

What better way is there to celebrate our community’s progress than with a party (or two)? We hope you’ll be there for these great events and join us as we work to create even more things to be proud of in the future.