Hormel Foods breaks ground on new Early Childhood Education Center

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(ABC 6 News) – Wednesday, Hormel Foods broke ground on a brand new multi-million dollar childcare center. Responding to a huge need in the area.

“Quality and affordable childcare is critical to sustaining and growing the workforce in our community,” said Katie Larson, Senior VP of HR, Hormel Foods.

The $5 million, 13,000-square-foot facility located at 17th Ave. NW in Austin, will accommodate up to 130 children of company team members, as well as community members throughout Mower County.

According to a 2022 report by First Children’s Finance, Austin is short about 500 childcare placements.

Hormel Foods employees will have priority in getting a spot but HR Manager Angie Bissen says it will eventually be available to the whole community.

“We are excited to begin construction on our new early learning center and partner with Bright Horizons to help meet the childcare needs of our team members and those in our community,” said Bissen. “We’re constantly hearing just an anxiety surrounding the availability of childcare and a concern about that childcare and how it was gonna impact their ability to stay in the workforce.”

Bissen didn’t specify how or when the rest of the community will get access but says this model is unique for a town the size of Austin.

“Being located in a smaller rural area it’s a lot harder to make a project like this financially sustainable,” said Bissen.

Something Austin Mayor Steve King takes pride in.

“I think it’s great that government and corporate partnership is alive and well here in Austin,” King said.

Bright Horizons Childcare will run the facility — in the ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday saying the community needs to work together to improve access and affordability to quality childcare.

Bissen says Hormel has yet to decide how much tuition will cost, but the company says it is keeping affordability in mind.

Hormel Foods

“We’re also making sure that we’re accepting the childcare assistance program, just to help make this support as affordable as possible,” explained Bissen.

Benike Construction is scheduled to begin construction on the new facility immediately. The early childhood education center is expected to open spring of 2024.