Hard to miss plethora of expansions in Austin

It seems you can’t travel anywhere in Austin without passing several major construction or expansion projects. The construction tally seems unusually high, and just a few of the big ones include expansions at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, Hormel Foods corporate offices, St. Mark’s Lutheran Home, Woodson Kindergarten Center, a new Austin Public Schools fifth- and sixth-grade building, and proposed expansions at the Paramount Theatre and The Hormel Institute.

It’s hard to overstate the impact these projects will have on Austin. The $28-million medical center expansion will create about 70 full-time jobs, including nine new physician positions, and The Hormel Institute’s $27-million expansion is expected to create around 120 new jobs. If you factor in spouses and children for these new professionals — and assuming a majority will live in Austin — a conservative estimate adds 300 residents to Austin in the next few years for these two projects alone. That’s on par with the population increase Austin witnessed the past 10 years, when it went from 23,314 in 2000 to 24,718 in 2010.

Another indicator of an economic turnaround is growth in the taxable retail sales numbers. While the total for 2011, $1.478 million, is a hair below 2010, at $1.482 million, both are sizeable increases from 2009, at $1.398 million, and 2008, at $1.225 million. Also, three of the last four months show in improvement from that month the year before.

Still, the economic signs aren’t completely positive in Austin, as the housing market hasn’t fully recovered and many feel unemployment isn’t where it should be yet.

While the Austin housing market is showing some signs of recovery, homes are still selling below the median sales price from 2011. But that trend, which is one of the last indicators to show improvement since the housing crisis began, is beginning to change throughout Minnesota, as the median sales price statewide showed double digit increases in April.

And while the unemployment rate, at 4.6 percent, doesn’t account for those who aren’t actively seeking work, it’s the lowest it’s been since the start of the recession in 2008.

Most would look at these numbers and conclude the economy is improving.

 

More jobs for Austin

Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin announced Tuesday the addition of 14 new providers, some of which are related to the expansion while others are replacements.

New providers include:

—Jennifer Goins, M.D., Pain Clinic physician who started in January

—Mohammed Nazmul, M.D., Internal Medicine physician who started in May

—Kathy Crabtree, C.N.P., Family Medicine certified nurse practitioner at Blooming Prairie Clinic who started in May

—Scott Persellin, M.D., Rheumatology physician who started in May

—Brian Whited, M.D., temporary Family Medicine physician who will start late June

—Joanne McGaffey, C.N.P., Family and Occupational Medicine certified nurse practitioner who will start late June

—Seema Dewani, M.D., Adult psychiatry physician who will start early July

—Brian Stith, D.O., Family Medicine physician who will start late July

—Jenna Wheeler, M.D., Pediatrics physician who will start late July

—Sarah Scherger, M.D., Pediatrics physician who will start late July

—Rupinder Singh, M.D., Emergency Medicine physician who will start early August

—Laura Walker, M.D., Emergency Medicine physician who will start early August

—Trisha Rau, C.N.P., Family and Occupational Medicine certified nurse practitioner who will start early August

—Gayette Grimm, M.D., General Surgery physician who will start late August

For a complete list of all current providers, go to mayoclinichealth system.org and click on the Austin location and Find Medical Staff or Meet Providers on the home page. Medical center officials say information for all new providers will be added to the web site upon their start dates.

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