State commissioners visit Hormel research facility; Austin among 11 stops for fifth annual tour

Published 8:06 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

Commissioners from nine state agencies toured the Hormel Foods Research and Development facility Wednesday morning. The stop was part of the fifth annual “Commissioners on Wheels,” a three-day bus tour of southeastern Minnesota. It focused on issues and investments related to innovation, manufacturing, workforce, energy and food production.

The tour was organized by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)
and was used to spread awareness of Gov. Mark Dayton’s “Minnesota Business
First Stop” program. Austin was one of 11 stops along the tour.

“This has really been a chance for us to see businesses in action,” said DEED communications director Shane Delaney. “It’s a great
opportunity for the commissioners to see how this part of the state is growing and what the needs are, what the concerns are and what they can do as state agency commissioners to help folks over here.”

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The commissioners first heard a presentation from Aaron Asmus, director of Hormel Food Safety Validation and Lab Services, Research and Development, before touring the facility.

“I hope (the commissioners) get an idea of the high level of technology and high level of science we’re doing in southeast Minnesota,” Asmus said.

The commissioners were broken up into smaller groups as they toured state-of-the-art laboratories used for research and development.

“Anytime we can bring anybody into these facilities to show the type of work that we do, talk about the company — but also talk about food safety and food quality with an entity like (the commissioners) — and show that this is the degree that we take things
at Hormel, I think is really important,” Asmus said.

The commissioners left with a fresh perspective and good impression of the facility.

“Austin is a great community on the cutting edge of many things research and development wise,” Delaney said. “We’ve seen that all across the region. There are a lot of good things happening in this part of the state.”

The commissioners also visited Red Wing Shoe Company, Winona Canoe, Envirolastech, EZ Fabricating, Kerry Ingredients, IBM, Al-Corn Ethanol and Faribault Woolen Mill Company along the tour.