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Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center to host official opening Tuesday in Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR -- University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will visit Willmar on Tuesday to meet with community and business leaders and to mark the official opening of the university's Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center on the MinnWest Technology Campus.

"Willmar is one of Minnesota's most significant regional economic centers, and I'm looking forward to meeting with leaders and partners involved in our growing collaborations in the area, including the new Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center," Kaler said.

He will be joined on the trip by his wife, Karen Kaler, along with University Regent Dean Johnson of Willmar and U of M Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration Robert J. Jones, who directly oversees the new research and outreach center.

The public is invited to attend an open house celebrating the opening of the Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center, from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at 1802 18th St. S.E. on the MinnWest Technology Campus. A program beginning at 2:15 p.m. will feature brief remarks by Kaler, Johnson and Jones, along with James Sieben, president of the MinnWest Technology Campus and vice president and general manager of Nova-Tech Engineering.

The event is free but registration is requested at www.

The Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center serves as a regional base for university research, education and engagement in collaboration with the MinnWest Technology Campus and city of Willmar. Its mission is to promote innovation, economic growth and workforce development in areas vital to the region's economic base, with an emphasis on bioscience, biotechnology and agribusiness.

The center will house leading-edge avian research laboratories headed by nationally renowned turkey disease expert Carol Cardona, a professor in the university's College of Veterinary Medicine. It is also home to Extension programs addressing community issues related to food and agriculture, environmental issues, families and communities and youth development.

The 18,000-square-foot center is one of 30 historically significant buildings on the privately owned MinnWest Technology Campus, a 110-acre collaborative business community on the eastern shore of Willmar Lake. The U of M center features a teaching kitchen and high-tech media center, a university Extension office and a Level-Three biosecure laboratory and space that will house student internship collaborations likely to involve the university's Morris campus, St. Cloud State University and Ridgewater College.

The facility also includes space for future research collaborations in renewable energy, as well as for continuing education and business training programs serving regional industries, community residents and university alumni.

The research and outreach center was developed by the University of Minnesota with support from the MinnWest Technology Campus, the city of Willmar, and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission. The renovation of the building was supported in part by a $1.25 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, along with a matching contribution by the MinnWest Technology Campus.