75 years, $197M; Austin recognizes The Hormel Foundation’s contributions

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In 1941, The Hormel Foundation mades its first donation of $10 to Ducks Unlimited. In 2015, it donated $7.1 million in annual appropriations along with another $15 million in major projects for a total of $22.1 million.

Over 75 years, The Hormel Foundation has given $197 million to the Austin community.

“It’s a story that I think is probably one of a few in America today of how this whole thing has unfolded. And I think we can all be extremely proud.”Hormel Foundation Chairman Gary Ray said.

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As The Hormel Foundation celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, community leaders gathered Monday morning in downtown Town Center building to hold a ribbon cutting and to recognize its contributions to the community and the vision that kicked off The Foundation 75 years ago.

Hormel Foods Corp.’s founder George A. Hormel and his son, Jay C. Hormel, established The Hormel Foundation to serve three main purposes, according to Ray: keep Hormel Foods Corp. independent through a foundation and trust, look out for the community, and to protect the heirs of the trust.

“They were strong supporters of the community way back in their days, and it’s amazing how much they looked out for the community, not only for the community but also for the workers that worked in the plant here in Austin, Minnesota,” Ray said.

Hormel Foundation Chairman Gary Ray chats during a quick break Monday.

Hormel Foundation Chairman Gary Ray chats during a quick break Monday.

Today, The Foundation controls 48 percent of Hormel Foods Corp.’s shares, making it highly unlikely the company would ever be bought out.

One key purpose has been to serve as a charitable organization to benefit the Austin community.

The Hormel Foundation ranks fifth in annual giving among Minnesota’s largest community/public foundations, with those in the lead located in the Twin Cities, according to the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

Through the Foundation’s support and leadership, grants have virtually transformed all parts of the Austin community through providing everything from stocking food shelves to cancer research to education opportunities.

Austin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandy Forstner praised Ray and the board for their dedication and connection to the community. Under Ray’s leadership, Forstner said The Foundation has become more accessible, visible and active in the community.

“Gary [Ray] has been an inspirational leader, continuing a long line of them,” Forstner said.

Foundation Treasurer Jerry Anfinson said Austin is lucky to have strong leadership at the Foundation, with the likes of I.J. Holton, Dick Knowlton and Ray.

“These are three gentlemen who really care about Austin,” Anfinson said.

Thirteen qualifying organizations are supported by The Hormel Foundation, including Austin Area Foundation, Austin Community Charitable Fund, Austin Public Schools, Austin Salvation Army, Austin Community Growth Ventures, Austin Scholarship Committee, Cedar Valley Services, city of Austin, Mayo Clinic Health System Austin, The Hormel Institute-University of Minnesota, Riverland Community College Austin, United Way of Mower County and The YMCA of Austin.

The Hormel Foundation supports a variety of issues around Austin: education opportunities, supporting food provisions, shelter and transportation, providing services and space for people with disabilities, success programs for both high school and first generation college students, new programs/areas of excellence at higher education organizations, health and wellness and family support programs.

The Hormel Foundation played a big part in helping redevelop the space where the Oak Park Mall once stood and where Hy-Vee’s new store is currently being built. Herald file photo

The Hormel Foundation played a big part in helping redevelop the space where the Oak Park Mall once stood and where Hy-Vee’s new store is currently being built. Herald file photo

The Foundations principal funding recipient is The Hormel Institute, a world-renowned cancer research center with global collaborations and impact. Due to the Foundation’s annual support,100 percent of every dollar donated to The Hormel Institute’s can be used exclusively for cancer research.

But the contributions go much further, as The Foundation contributed to the project to redevelop the former Oak Park Mall into a new Hy-Vee grocery store, it gave to the Wescott Athletic Complex dome and turf project, it pledged $5 million to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s new interpretive center, it’s pledged money to the proposed Austin Community Recreation Center project, it’s been a major backer of several Vision 2020 projects, and it’s — often quietly — supported a variety of education initiatives in Austin.

“You can’t say enough good about The Hormel Foundation,” Forstner said.

Looking around Austin and at landmarks and at facilities, Forstner said it’s hard to find one that The Foundation hasn’t supported and backed.

“Almost anything we point to with pride, The Foundation has its fingerprint on,” Forstner said.

About The Hormel Foundation

A separate entity from Hormel Foods Corp., The Hormel Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization established in 1941 by Hormel Foods Corporation founder George A. Hormel and his son, Jay C. Hormel. Contributions from The Hormel Foundation directly benefit the Austin, Minn., area. The Hormel Foundation was reorganized in 1980 as a supporting organization under I.R.C. Section 509(a)(3). As a supporting organization, it is organized and operated for the benefit of those charitable or educational organizations represented on its board.

Since 1941, The Hormel Foundation has given nearly $197 million to the Austin area. In 2015 total contributions were $21.4 million, which included the annual contributions budget of $7.1 million, plus another $14.3 million of other spending including $3.4 million toward Vision 2020 projects, to improve overall quality of living and working in Austin.