Created: 05/28/2014 5:45 PM KAALtv.com
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's already got a reputation as one of the world's premier cancer research facilities. Now, that reputation isn't the only thing that's growing.
With a few shovels full of sand, work on a project that will nearly double the size of the Hormel Institute has begun.
"The institute is living up to its slogan: today's research, tomorrow's cures," said the Hormel Foundation’s Gary Ray.
The project was awarded $13.5 million dollars in the state's 2012 bonding bill.
"When we sat down to write the bonding bill with that blank sheet of paper, guess which project came first?" said state senator Dave Senjem of Rochester.
“The Hormel Foundation was going to put in half of the money, the state put in the other half, that's just very appealing," said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, one of a number of local, state and federal dignitaries in Austin for the start of work on the Institute project Wednesday afternoon.
The Hormel Foundation committed $15 million toward the project.
"No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess. the institute and this expansion is that scientific gem that will allow our bold guesses to occur," said the University of Minnesota’s Dr. Brian Herman.
This expansion comes eight years after an expansion that tripled lab space at the institute. That expansion increase also doubled the institute staff, from 60 people to 120. This expansion is expected to add another 120
"And bring some of the world's leading scientists to Austin, Minnesota," the Hormel Foundation’s Gary Ray told about 300 people invited to the ceremony marking the start of the expansion.
This project will add 20 state-of-the-art laboratories.
"The Hormel Institute is bringing us ever closer to the groundbreaking prevention and treatment therapies," said US Senator Al Franken.
It's scheduled for completion in August 2015.
"You don't have to be a big city to have big ideas and to cure big diseases. That's what Austin is doing today," US Senator Amy Klobuchar said.