By Shannon Schlecht
AURI Executive Director
When the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) was founded in the late 1980s, it was tasked with helping Minnesota producers, companies and entrepreneurs achieve success through applied research, promotional marketing and commercialization efforts to expand opportunities for Minnesota grown crops and ag products. In that respect, AURI has consistently achieved that goal for over three decades. AURI works with many collaborators and stakeholders, but simply could not have achieved such heights without the vision of the Minnesota Legislature.
Their foresight into the agriculture sector’s needs led to AURI’s creation, and since day one, their support and partnership provides the foundation of this organization’s ability to make a difference in rural and metro communities across the state. For this, I want to extend the most heartfelt thank you to all of the current and past members of the Minnesota Legislature.
In return for their support over the past 31 years, AURI has worked tirelessly to create the highest possible return on their investment in the way of market expansion, new jobs created, and new dollars invested within the state. I am proud of the impact clients self-reported to AURI, including 606 jobs created or retained, and $128 million in new capital invested over the most recent five-year period, as well as the generation of $322 million in new gross annual sales.
Beyond client projects, AURI actively seeks out new industry opportunities and works to de-risk these ideas for commercial investment. These types of activities range from supporting feasibility studies, to creating commercial roadmaps, to convening value-chain participants to explore innovative opportunities.
Finally, AURI plays a vital role in both supporting other organization’s efforts involved in the food and agriculture industry as well as by connecting the food and agricultural ecosystem through several initiatives and activities. Over the past 30 years, it is clear Minnesotans have creative ideas and from my perspective, AURI plays a pivotal role in connecting challenges to opportunities to enhance commercial opportunities through its broad industry network and understanding of value-added agriculture. While more challenging to illustrate impact, this vital role accelerates innovative outcomes for the food and agriculture industry.
As you can see, the relationship between AURI and the Minnesota Legislature creates a significant economic and social impact across the state and the upper Midwest region. For that reason, I want to say, again, thank you to the legislature, our stakeholders and collaborators and here’s to another 30 years of fruitful collaboration for the benefit of Minnesota’s economy and food and agriculture sector!