Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thank you beautiful Iowa! Multi-state economic development without permission.

It was a great pleasure to meet with the Iowa RC&D folks in Ankeny this week. Thanks for the invitation!

Our friend Bill Menner, Iowa State Director, USDA Rural Development was able to join the discussion. Thanks to Bill and all my new friends across Iowa.

Iowa is such a beautiful, diverse state. It's a great place with wonderful people.

I came to talk about networked food processing kitchens across a multi-state region. As we discussed at our USDA meeting at the Innovation Kitchen last week, this project is doing multi-state economic development without permission. Action is needed now.

My presentation was about the Innovation Kitchen model and a plan for creating a network of independent, collaborating food processing facilities connected to community development goals. The idea is to replicate promising models.

We are now starting talks for expanding our initial 4 facility network of collaborating food facilities into the next 10, across Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

Throughout this, we can be linking into the Great Lakes Food Hub Network (Hubbas).

In Iowa, the first network partner should be in their beautiful Northeast. Our group is planning next steps with our friend Teresa and her network of friends there. We have a good meeting set up to discuss this idea with friends in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois on Tuesday. New economic development collaborations are already underway across state borders. No one ever asked permission. Just perfect.

Thank you for a great meeting, Iowa RC&D friends!

The corn maze image above is being cut in this week (Go Adam!) at Kathy's Pumpkin Patch in Donnellson, IA.

The Iowa League of Resource Conservation and Development (RC&Ds)

USDA Iowa Rural Development. Thanks Bill!

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Great Lakes Food Hub. Here and here

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Innovation Kitchens. Rural commercial kitchens form local food network

The Wisconsin State Journal just posted a good piece about a meeting we hosted today for our regional USDA Rural Development State Directors.

"A series of commercial kitchens designed to process locally grown food could dot a four-state region of the Midwest under plans being proposed by economic development leaders."

In the photo, left to right:

USDA Rural Development, Wisconsin State Director, Stan Gruszynski

USDA Rural Development, Illinois State Director, Colleen Callahan


USDA Rural Development, Iowa State Director, Bill Menner

"State directors from three U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development agencies were in Mineral Point Wednesday to tour the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen and discuss ways of expanding the kitchen to other communities in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota."

"The facilities, which typically employ workers with developmental disabilities, would be run independently but work together sharing ideas, processes and marketing."

"The opportunity to make jobs and entrepreneurial capacity out of those facilities is huge," Terrien said. "We don't want to compete with these folks. We want to cooperate."

Many thanks to our regional friends in USDA Rural Development for a great visit!

Wisconsin State Journal Article by Barry Adams.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New video - Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen and our emerging network

Congratulations Tom, Annette, the Hodan Center, all my friends at the kitchen, Iowa County Area Economic Development, and everyone involved in our wonderful Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen project!

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Hodan Center

Iowa County Area Economic Development Come Grow With Us!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Kiva portfolio, May 2011. "A hand up to entrepreneurs"

I really enjoy working with Kiva. They have created an amazing business model that connects people and opportunities worldwide through lending.

This crowdfunding model is moving toward approval in the United States as a new mechanism for funding small businesses.

Here's what Kiva says in their responses to new loans:

"We're so excited that you've chosen to give a hand up to entrepreneurs working towards better lives."

Check out these current Kiva stats:

$1,216,125 loaned this week

3,090 entrepreneurs funded this week

15 seconds between loans

18,515 loans this week

$220 million in loans since 2005

98.75% repayment rate

When this kind of crowdsourcing model can be directed toward new business startups and expansions in the U.S., job creation will flourish.

Kiva lets me be a micro volunteer - in short time slots that allow me to make a little bit of difference in circumstances and places that are important to me.

The current repayment rate for loans I've made to Kiva entrepreneurs is 100%

What a cool org. Thank you Kiva for the wonderful entrepreneurship opportunities you help fund, and the dreams you inspire worldwide!

My lender page at KIVA


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Happy 17th anniversary Forward Community Investments!

Everyone in Wisconsin should be thankful for the work of Forward Community Investments.

A wonderful group of friends from across the state helped FCI celebrate their 17th anniversary today. Here is how this valuable and productive organization describes itself:

"Forward Community Investments works with nonprofits in Wisconsin to help them make strategic financial decisions and build their capacity for greater success today and tomorrow. In 2010, our loans totaled more than $4 million and we provided strategic advice to various nonprofits throughout the state. And, in 2011, we have money to lend and assistance to offer.

For 15+ years, FCI has been bringing together nonprofits, socially-minded investors and funders to make amazing things happen in communities throughout Wisconsin. During that time, we have lent close to $23 million to nonprofits for the development of affordable housing and community facilities and services and the promotion of economic development initiatives. Our lending has cut across urban and rural demographics alike. We invite you to discover how to become part of what we do – whether it’s by borrowing, investing or giving."

As a 35+ year for-profit entrepreneur I now am immersed in, and relishing social entrepreneurship. In the new world of social entrepreneurship you still have to make a profit but you get to define that profit in better, broader, smarter terms.

In my new work, it's my great honor and privilege to have become friends with Salli Martyniak, President of FCI. Salli has been a patient mentor, emergency relief valve, wise devil's advocate, and much more.

My hearty congrats to the entire FCI team on your 17th anniversary!


Forward Community Investments. Image copyright FCI.

Meet the FCI team

Friday, June 03, 2011

Employment directly related to the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Our Innovation Kitchen is a wonderful startup. Every day the story gets better and new opportunities emerge.

I gathered this data for my friend Karen at Fresh Taste in Chicago who helped put the summary into the linked doc below.

The entire team at the Hodan Center, especially Tom and Annette, should stand tall for this accomplishment. In a stormy global sea of economic difficulties, this is high ground.

Employment directly related to the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Full time professional food staff : 6
Client-employees (developmentally disabled) : 32
Professional HR staff to support client-employees : 3
Employees of business entities currently processing through the kitchen : 30
Farmers supplying produce : 15
Employees of support businesses for kitchen entrepreneurs : 5
Sales people serving the kitchen's purchasing needs (food wholesalers, etc) : 6

Employment Total : 97

In addition:

• Approximately 700 separate businesses purchase food produced at the kitchen wholesale for resale to their customers

• The kitchen does 1-2 catering jobs per week, contributing indirectly to additional purchasing and employment in the region

Download Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen employment summary

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Hodan Center, Mineral Point, Wisconsin

Iowa County Area Economic Development Come grow with us

Fresh Taste, thanks Karen!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Local Processing and Commercial Kitchens. Ankeny, Iowa. June 27

I'm looking forward to a presentation I'll be sharing with the Iowa League of Resource Conservation and Development (RC&Ds) in Ankeny on June 27.

My talk will be on "Local Processing and Commercial Kitchens."

Specifically I want to discuss our proposals for creating a network of community based food processing facilities. This network will create jobs, help new and existing small businesses, and create economic development models that can be replicated globally.

Here is a nice overview about the Iowa RC&Ds from their site:

“Enhancing lives through conservation and community services”

"Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) is a unique program that helps people protect and develop their economic, natural, and social resources in was that improve their area’s economy, environment, and quality of life. Local RC&D Councils provide ways for people to plan and implement projects that will make their communities better places to live."

"RC&D is based on the idea that local people know what their communities need and can create solutions that will really work. Groups of local volunteers establish RC&D Councils, which represent sponsoring organizations within multi-county region. Council Directors volunteer their time to address important issues in their communities, and to build a better life for themselves and others. The strength of the RC&D Program is in local people working together to solve their own problems. The development of local leadership and community pride is a key part of RC&D projects and successes."

Thanks for the invitation! I am looking forward to visiting old friends and making new ones in Ankeny on June 27.

Iowa League of Resource Conservation and Development offices (RC&Ds).