Thursday, September 29, 2011

New video promoting the wonderful Madison, WI region

I love the area where I live and work.

Both sides of my family lived in Wisconsin before 1850.

I recently helped with a video promoting the Madison, WI region. This was for a new economic development initiative called Advance Now.

Watch this video. My contributions are at the beginning and the end.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Disabled girl gets spot on cheer team, hundreds of miles away

At the Innovation Kitchen in Mineral Point, I have made many new friends who also have disabilities.

It's an honor and a challenge as an economic developer to support the life goals of my new friends.

Platforms like the Innovation Kitchen not only create employment opportunities for folks with disabilities, they create wide ranging economic and social benefits for the society we live in.

This is a new economy. We need to create opportunities for everyone to contribute. Everyone benefits from that kind of world.

Here's a short, inspirational piece about how collaboration among people of good will can change one person's life and also change the world.

Video of a dream coming true through collaboration Thanks to CNN video.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen - rural / urban collaboration on food as economic development

Our work at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is being incorporated into a wonderful effort to create jobs and new businesses in both rural and urban areas of Wisconsin.

This food-based project is a collaboration between the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program and Milwaukee's Social Development Commission.

Our Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is one of three partner organizations in this effort. If this project comes to life, we are very much looking forward to working with Will Allen and his Growing Power organization, and the Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute in Milwaukee.

From the application:

"The three partner organizations will identify existing and new small businesses involved in various aspects of healthy foods in Milwaukee. Each will provide technical business assistance and support to enable these businesses to expand and create jobs for low-income residents of Milwaukee. These partners are Growing Power, the Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute (MEI) and the Milwaukee Business Improvement District #32. In rural southwestern Wisconsin, the main partner is the Innovation Kitchen, a state-of-the-art commercial processing kitchen."

"Small businesses involved with the Initiative will be able to have the Kitchen buy the ingredients, store and prepare the recipe, package, label and ship it to Milwaukee."

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program

Milwaukee's Social Development Commission


(Photo) Elegant Vegan's Piquantly Pickled Okra . Nice blog post about one of our partners and their wonderful products. Good quotes from the ever-wonderful Olivia Chase. Their amazing pickled okra is pictured above.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Congratulations again Sue Noble! Thank you President Obama.

My friend Sue Noble is an extraordinary economic developer.

I recently posted a short piece about Sue's recognition at the White House.

Sue was among a handful people nationwide chosen for recognition as an American 'Rural Champion of Change'. Wow! Many congrats Sue!

Before I accepted my current job I talked with Sue. I took Sue's direction for common goals for our work and our region. Looking back, she was dead on.

Now, when I have questions about big-picture economic development stuff, I call Sue.

This new photo just came in from Sue's award event at the White House 'Rural Champion of Change' ceremony.

Congratulations Sue, and thanks for all your great contributions to economic development and job creation in our region, rural America, and beyond!

Vernon County (WI) Economic Development, Sue Noble, Executive Director.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

David Stoltzfus - Innovation Kitchen friend, grower, and buyer.

My friend David is a great farmer, and a real gentleman.

The Innovation Kitchen has partnered with David, an Amish farmer from our region, for the second year to provide healthy, local, nutritious produce to our kitchen and to our customers. We all look forward to doing business with David going forward.

It's fun - an an honor - helping connect friends like David into the emerging new networks of people interested in sustainable regional food systems.

In one of the next posts, there will be news about a really cool new project that utilizes this kind of model to help connect food growing regions with a big regional urban area, in our case Milwaukee. This can be replicated elsewhere once we work out the wrinkles.

I think David, and farmers across the country can benefit through new business models that the Innovation Kitchen is prototyping.

David's wonderful butternut squash is headed into fame as an ingredient in amazing pasta mixes created by one of the Innovation Kitchen's best customers (served at the White House Super Bowl party this past January!).

Thanks very much David for supplying the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen with produce we love and a great business relationship we honor.

Our kind of partner!

When I visited last week with Dr. Duane Ford, new President at Southwest Tech there was an Amish buggy tied up outside his office. I KNEW I was in the right place!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Congratuations Dr. Duane Ford and Southwest Wisconsin!

Dr. Duane Ford recently became President of Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore, WI.

This is great news for all of Southwest Wisconsin. Dr. Ford was just at the Innovation Kitchen and posted about it in his blog (quoted below).

Dr. Ford will be a great leader for SW Tech and for our region. A quote I liked in a recent newspaper interview sums up what I've seen in my work with Dr. Ford: "'Community interaction has been an ongoing theme of my career', he said. 'Southwest Tech has a good outreach in the district and that is one of the things that appeals the most to me. Technical colleges are deeply in touch with their communities.'"

I've had the opportunity to work with Dr. Ford, and he walks the walk. He and Derek Dachelet from SW Tech just stopped in the Innovation Kitchen in Iowa County for a great visit. Dr. Ford's blog post accurately describes the opportunities for job creation and business development that the Innovation Kitchen represents:

"Our next stop was across town at the aptly named Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen. This operation is an innovative, fully-staffed commercial kitchen that supports innovation in the production of local food products. Rick Terrien, Executive Director of the Iowa County Economic Development Corporation, and Wally Orzechowski, Executive Director of the Southwest Community Action Program, informed us that there are many kitchen incubators around the country where entrepreneurs are invited in to prepare their own food products for public sale. But there are no others that are fully-staffed and able to take an entrepreneur’s ingredients and/or recipe and make “prototype” or production batches of the entrepreneur’s dream food product."

"The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen’s production staff can efficiently produce non-meat or dairy products ready for sale nationwide. By letting the staff take care of production, compliance, and related issues, the entrepreneur can focus his or her energy on product development, marketing, and sales. If you have some time, I strongly encourage you to look at their website or stop by and visit. This is a remarkable operation that Rick, Wally, and others hope to replicate across our region. And by the way, they are looking for investors to help them make this happen."

Dr. Ford got this exactly right. Thank you.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College has a great new leader. Congratulations and welcome Dr. Duane Ford!

Dr. Ford's blog: Southwest Tech District Tour – Mineral Point and Blanchardville. Posted September 1, 2011

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in beautiful, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Two new jobs today! A great interview with Thomas Friedman

We made two new jobs at the Innovation Kitchen today. We're inventing stuff, making stuff, expanding our enterprise and helping create and grow small businesses across our region and beyond.

There was a good interview this evening with Thomas Friedman, NY Times correspondent and three time Pulitzer Prize winner titled, 'How America Fell Behind'. It was on NPR's All Things Considered (linked below).

The interview focused on a new book Mr. Friedman helped co-author: 'That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back' by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, published in September 2011.

I have not read the full book yet but excerpts and this interview will insure I do.

What has caught my attention profoundly is Mr. Friedman's strong focus on the strengths and ingenuity of our United States citizens and how we can compete wisely and successfully going forward in an economic world undergoing great upheaval.

In discussing the ineffective and transient role multinational companies play in the long term economic development life of our communities, Mr Friedman talks about ways we can utilize our own strengths to rebuild our country from the bottom up, with resources within all of us.

Emphasis added:

"What needs to be our vision going forward?"

"There is kind of a hankering today of 'When is Ford going to put in that 50,000 worker factory in my city, and when is Intel going to come? Folks, it's not going to happen. Because those factories are all incredibly roboticized, automated, and they are capital intensive, not labor intensive."

"We are not going to have a 50,000 person factory in your town. What we need are 50,000 people, 1,000 of whom are starting jobs for 10 people, 50 of whom (starting jobs for) for 100, 100 of whom for 30. That - everybody needs to be starting something."

(Mr. Friedman on why he is optimistic about our future in America)

"This country is full of people today who just didn't get the word.... they just didn't get the word that we are down and out, they just didn't get the word that Washington is paralyzed."

"And they go out and start stuff, and invent stuff, and fix stuff, and make stuff, no matter what's going on in Washington."

I love that - everyone needs to start something! People all over are starting stuff and making change in their own communities.

Today we welcomed two new employees to the Innovation Kitchen. Our workforce of folks with disabilities is now about 35. Welcome! And tomorrow I'm meeting with my favorite College President to discuss hiring some of their graduates to meet the needs of our growing regional food initiatives.

It's great being among people that didn't get the word we can't change the world.


Listen to the NPR interview with Thomas Friedman, Sept. 6, 2011.

Hodan Center's Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in Iowa County, Wisconsin

Photo of Thomas Friedman is from his Wikipedia page

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Thanks Senator Dale Schultz and Agricultural Development Division Administrator Mike Powers

Thanks to Wisconsin Senator Dale Schultz for helping us welcome Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Division Administrator Mike Powers to the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

Senator Schultz has been very helpful in highlighting the work we're doing at the Innovation Kitchen. He recently invited Mike Powers, leader of DATCP's Agricultural Development Division. We're all very thankful for Senator Schultz's help in telling our exciting story!

The DATCP Agricultural Development Division promotes Wisconsin products at home and abroad and provides assistance to farmers.

From the DATCP site:

"Mike Powers served five terms in the Wisconsin Legislature, where he supported and advanced agricultural policy, serving on the Assembly Rural Affairs, Utilities and Land Use Committees and receiving special recognition as a "Friend of Agriculture." He chose to leave the Legislature to work in real estate and wind energy development. Powers also served on the Green County Board of Supervisors during adoption of the county’s first large-scale livestock operation regulations. Prior to his election to the Assembly, he was the Green County conservationist, managing soil erosion control, farmland preservation, priority watershed and agricultural education and youth programs. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, earning a degree in Land Reclamation, a combination of agriculture, engineering, mining and natural resources. Through school, he worked on local dairy and hog farms; for agricultural businesses including a farm supply, grain storage, feed and agricultural chemical cooperative; and for the University of Wisconsin-Extension."

Everyone at the kitchen enjoyed meeting Mike Powers. Mike is our neighbor in Green County and we really enjoyed his tales of ag entrepreneurship. Mike doesn't just talk about it, he's done it. It wan an honor to show Mike the good work of Annette and her team at the Hodan Center's Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

Mike has led a distinguished career, but the Innovation Kitchen team has decided to add one more accolade to Mike's resume after listening to him discuss his ag entrepreneurship experiences. We have unofficially nicknamed Mike, Wisconsin's "King of Kohlrabi".

Thanks to Senator Dale Schultz for another great visit and to DATCP Division Administrator Mike Powers.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity to show off our ideas for creating jobs and building new economic development models for rural and urban communities across our state and beyond.

Senator Dale Schultz Wisconsin state legislature site.

Wikipedia Dale Schultz

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection". Many thanks to DATCP Agricultural Development Division Administrator Mike Powers for a great visit.

In the photo above, Mike Powers is on the left, and former UW basketball player Dale Schultz is in the center.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Hodan Center