Meeting Highlights New Approach To Development in Austin

Created: 05/20/2014 6:55 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For more than a quarter century, it's been working to improve Austin's business and industrial climate.

But when the Development Corporation of Austin held its annual meeting on Tuesday, the philosophy behind it was different than it was in those early years.

"We really have a great story to tell. it's not made up," DCA Executive Director John Garry said.

When the DCA was created in 1987, its goal was to support new and existing industrial and commercial enterprises.

"Hormel foods corporation continues to go gangbusters, the Hormel Institute keeps growing," the DCAs John Garry said.

27 years later, the goal remains the same -- "Targeting and focusing on a customer's perspective is more the game today for all of us as we compete for these types of investments and job creation," said Kevin McKinnon of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

But more than ever, doing that is happening on a regional level.

"The radius or the region that people are looking at is looked at much deeper than it ever used to be," DEEDs Kevin McKinnon said. That radius can now be 60 miles, 90 miles or more.

“They're not looking at necessarily Austin, Minnesota,” said DCA executive director John Garry. “They could be looking at southeastern Minnesota, and they could be looking at who's there, what type of talent is there, what type of assets are there. So it is part of our message from Austin ... look at what's happening around us."

“What's happening over in Rochester obviously is going to have a big impact on this region,” said DEEDs Kevin McKinnon.

So projects like Rochester's "Destination Medical Center" and the expansion at Austin's Hormel Institute will have impacts felt far beyond their own city limits.

"The spill-over between the scientific aspect between the Hormel Institute and the Mayo Clinic is a big aspect of this," DEEDs Kevin McKinnon explained.

One of the DCAs biggest projects of the last year was nicknamed "Project Windmill" -- and Austin finished as runner-up when an unnamed Fortune 100 company decided to put its warehouse and distribution facility ... and more than 160 new jobs ... in Clear Lake, Iowa.

"What did we learn? First, that we can compete,” John Garry told members gathered for the DCA’s annual meeting on Tuesday. “This was a big one, and we did quite well."

"In the end we all win when we have projects that are successful," DEEDs Kevin McKinnon added.