Knoxville — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds met with Hormel staff members and toured the Knoxville plant Thursday afternoon.
This was not Branstad's first tour of the facility, though he said he believes changes have been made to the plant since his last visit. Reynolds credited the governor's Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative for helping Iowa's students prepare for tomorrow's jobs. Branstad agreed that manufacturing, including plants like Hormel, are seeing more automation that will require robotic skills.
He and Reynolds also said that their tour of Hormel is a part of a statewide tour to observe and promote job growth. Prior to coming to Knoxville, the two took part in a ground-breaking ceremony for an expansion of the Cargill Plant in Eddyville.
Branstad said he intends to visit all 99 counties in Iowa each year. He is most impressed with Hormel, and has visited the company's corporate headquarters in Austin, Minn. Hormel is a publicly traded company, and, according to Branstad, has never seen a loss since the 1930s.
Hormel employs 1,700 Iowans and a large portion of the hogs used in the production of their goods are Iowa grown.
Joe Swedberg, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for Hormel, said Iowa has a good regulatory environment compared to other states. Swedberg took part in the discussion with Branstad and Reynolds. The discussion and tour of the plant were closed to the media.