“Austin, Minnesota has an abundance of wonderful attributes that make it a unique place,” says Nancy Schnable, executive director of the Austin Convention & Visiotrs Bureau. “It’s just one of those towns that you have to see to believe.”

Population: 25,000

Location: Located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 218, Austin is 12 miles north of the Iowa border and 95 miles south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Transportation: The Austin Municipal Airport is a public-owned, public-use airport, located 2 miles east of the central business dis- trict of Austin. Along with various taxi com- panies, the Southern Minnesota Area Rural Transit (SMART) also runs through the city, providing safe, reliable and accessible public transportation to residents and visitors.

Must-Sees: ArtWorks Center, housed in the historic First National Bank, showcases and fosters the local art community through art enrichment and art shows. The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center sits on 500 acres of hikeable trails through hardwood and pine forests and prairie along Dobbins Creek. Stop by the Sterling Shopping Center, one of Minnesota’s original strip malls, to find those just-what-you’re-looking-for items. Other places include the Austin landmark Buffy the Cow and Rydjor Bike Museum.

Restaurants: There are 60 dining options within the Austin city limits including Piggy Blues BBQ, the historic Old Mill, and the only Culvers in the U.S. with SPAM on the menu.

Conference Center: The Holiday Inn Austin Conference Center has nine meeting rooms with more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space. Other meeting places include the Hormel Historic Home Center and Ruby Rupner Auditorium.

Hotels: There are seven hotels in the area with a total of 386 rooms including the Quality of Excellence Award winning Holiday Inn and Conference Center.

How the CVB Helps: “We know the local area, have built the partnerships with local vendors and together we can communicate and create success for everyone,” says Schnable. “At the Austin, Minnesota CVB office, we strive to make a meeting planner’s job hassle and stress free. The clients we work with become friends. When you provide excellent service time and time again, people begin to trust you. It’s easy to call a friend and plan a meeting knowing that it’s in good hands.”

Get Connected
AUSTIN CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU  
Key Contact: Nancy Schnable
Phone Number: 507.437.4563

The CDC defines close contact as within six feet or less, for 15 minutes or more with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. At gatherings of many kinds, contact tracing is used to trace the people that someone has come into contact with, before they learn that they have tested positive. This allows the people that the sick person came into contact with to be aware of the situation, and to make health-informed choices. 

 

With restrictions across the country in a state of constant flux, not everyone is ready to jump back into meeting in person. While some planners are eager to get back to “normal,” the long-term adjustment to new protocols and potential risks make some hesitant to gather.

While wearing masks and social distancing can help keep attendees safe, intentional design choices—such as including natureinspired elements and materials and plenty of plants—can also help calm attendees.

 

Take note of these seven pros who are making their mark in the meetings and events industry. 

Jolene Ihle, Founder
IdeationMKT
Lifetime Achievement 

“I was 10 years old when I received my Muscular Dystrophy Carnival Kit in the mail. The box was filled with cool ideas and colorful materials to  support fundraising efforts. I was completely enthralled with the event planning process. … This experience was my jumpstart into events and I was hooked.”