Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year end blog notes - get out there and play in traffic

 In April of 2013 this Sustainable Work blog will be 8 years old.

I've wanted to do many kinds of jobs since I was a kid.  Throughout it all I've wanted to write and work as an entrepreneur.

My first small business gig was through the Elmhurst (IL) Press Agency.  I think I did this from about 6th to 8th grade  A group of us would come tearing into this newspaper office on our (un-lit, un-helmeted, look-no-handlebars) bicycles at about 4:00 AM in dead darkness during summer breaks.

We bought papers (Chicago Tribune and Sun Times) from the agency for $0.08 each for the right to sell them for $0.10 each.  Plus tips.  That's where you made your money.

The agency would shuttle us out to the busiest corners in the region in a rickety old van.  My spot was the corner of (IL) Route 83 and North Avenue. 

My job was to run as fast as I could between long lines of cars that would stack up at the red lights.  Customers would stick their arms out of their drivers window and you'd run to sell them their paper.  Then I'd look up for an arm waving in the exhaust fumes further down the queue and I'd take off running to get to them before the light changed.

By hindsight this was nutty, considering the moving traffic, early 1960's engine emissions, and a million other small, grave dangers.

I think good entrepreneurs and writers love the same stuff,  They look for opportunities to run through dangerous traffic.  

I really like practicing the writing part here.  My blog numbers have risen steadily since 2005, but this last year has seen a real bump in visitors.

Lately this blog has registered more than 9,000 page views per month, and more that 86,000 total page views since it's beginning.  These are not crazy viral numbers, but they certainly make me want to keep running and writing.

Thanks to everyone who visits this site.  It's time to start or grow your own new enterprise.  Get out there and play in the traffic.   I wish you a wonderful 2013!

Photo:  Snowy Egret I spent some quality time with at the  Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, December 2012.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"What's Farmland Worth? What's a Trademark Worth?"

My pal Rich Schell writes a great blog about food entrepreneurship,   

Rich currently has a really good post up:

"What's Farmland Worth? What's A Trademark Worth?/ The Answer Is The Same--Tell Me What You're Gonna Do With It, And I'll Tell You What I Think It Could Be Worth?"


"... So, if you're going to do something like what Mr. Green did with a trademark then, it's worth a lot, just like if you're going to use farmland to produce a branded retail food product that sells for a premium, in a business with healthy margins that has formidable barriers to competition and an exquisite local presence, then I would say that farmland's worth a lot too"

"So, what are you going to do with your farmland?"

Thanks to Rich for a great post. 

This speaks directly to the high value of small, safe, professionally staffed food processing centers like the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.  We are bringing new, branded food products to the market that capture and celebrate the opportunities for small food businesses and farms.  The time is right.  The opportunity is here.

"What's Farmland Worth? What's A Trademark Worth?/ The Answer Is The Same--Tell Me What You're Gonna Do With It, And I'll Tell You What I Think It Could Be Worth?"  (Rich Schell)  


Innovation Kitchens


The 2013 Chicago Farmers 2013 Farmland Investment Fair, Feb. 2, 2013.  Joliet, IL.  Rich helps organize the Farmland Investment Fair.  I'll be speaking again this year.  Join us!



Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Makers. The New Industrial Revolution" - Buckle up for this ride!

"In an age of custom fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed upon the economy, driving a new age of American Manufacturing."

This is from Chris Anderson, author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Long Tail, has written a great new one called Makers.  The New Industrial Revolution.  I highly recommend it.

I love the manufacturing world. Our last business designed, built and sold products to heavy industries all over the world.  It felt rewarding to see things we'd invented and manufactured helping to solve serious global problems.

But manufacturing is tough.  The first few of anything are expensive and usually not exactly right.

Now the desktop revolution is coming to fabrication and it looks like one heck of a big opportunity for the world.

Chris Anderson's 'Makers' compares our current desktop manufacturing to the early stages of the desktop publishing revolution. 

"Two decades after desktop publishing became a mainstream reality, the word desktop is being added to industrial machinery,  with equally mind-blowing effect."

If you think this might be some bleeding-edge, high-investment pursuit, think again.  Popular Science Magazine recent issue featuring the top 100 Innovations of the year, cited the Makerbot Replicator as their choice for "Easiest 3-D Printing".   Models start at $1,799.

I took this photo of the intricately fabricated 'Motion W' as it was being made on a consumer-grade 3-D printer at the University of Wisconsin.  I have this 'W' on my desk. 

Amazing.  And when you tie all this to the new crowdfunding models, things look amazingly possible.

I highly recommend Chris Anderson's new book, 'Makers.  The New Industrial Revolution.'

Of course I see a parallel in all this to the small-batch food 'manufacturing' done at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.  Different stuff being made with different tools, but the same story.

By providing increasing numbers of people with increasingly affordable access to increasingly valuable tools you're going to get positive outcomes.

Chris Anderson, Wikipedia

The Replicator, by Makerbot

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Milwaukee welcomes Martha's Pimento Cheese

I love Martha's Pimento Cheese.

My good pal Martha Davis Kipcak's emerging food empire, Mighty Fine Food, has just launched their new pimento cheese.

I'm honored to say I was one of Martha's earliest taste testers and most enthusiastic supporters.

This is from a new article and review linked below:

An American Classic

"Combining local, handmade Wisconsin cheese with a classic Southern recipe, Martha’s Pimento Cheese takes your taste buds on a delicious cross-country trip. Handcrafted in small batches with premium ingredients, MPC is meant to comfort and nourish. Spread on a sandwich, serve as a dip, crown your best burger, tuck into farm fresh eggs, get to eating . . . . . . no directions required."

From the Mighty Fine Food web site:  "When life’s road led Martha Davis Kipcak North from her native Texas to Milwaukee, she fell in love with Wisconsin’s world-class cheese, but longed for a favorite Southern staple: pimento cheese. It was then that the Community Food Advocate and Chef decided to set out on a new culinary adventure. Mighty Fine Food was born with Martha’s Pimento Cheese leading the way, marrying the best of Southern foodway traditions with the best of Wisconsin’s finest contribution to American eating: great cheese."

I really love Martha's story.   I really love Martha's Pimento Cheese. article, nicely written by Lori Fredrich

Mighty Fine Food and Martha's Pimento Cheese

Also kudos to my friend Bob Wills at Clock Shadow Creamery.  Martha produces her wonderful Pimento Cheese at the Clock Shadow Creamery, for sale at a number of outlets including the creamery store.   Clock Shadow Creamery is the first urban cheese factory in Wisconsin.  As Martha would say, 'Good on ya, Bob!'

Friday, November 30, 2012

Food trends 2013 - Innovation Kitchen video

We need more small scale, professionally managed food processing facilities and related business services.  It's the missing link.  This model make good community jobs and solves problems for small farms, consumers and communities. 

I see this issue every day.  The Innovation Kitchen model - one that emphasizes small, professionally staffed food processing and business services - can take problems for food entrepreneurs and small farms and turn them into profitable, sustainable solutions.

There's my food trend for 2013.  Food entrepreneurs and small farms - start your engines!

This new video was created by the University of Wisconsin Extension for a presentation at this year's Midwest Value Added Conference. Thanks to Greg Lawless for creating this video.

Innovation Kitchens

The 2012 Midwest Value Added Conference, La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Dec. 12th and 13th, 2012. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Congratulations Hook's Cheese!

I love Hook's Cheese.  Tony and Julie are globally cool, rock-star cheese makers.

What a great honor to work with them in Iowa County.

Their cheese plant is just down the hill from my office at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in Mineral Point.

Their 15 year old cheddar is in my fridge.

Tony and Julie have been models of entrepreneurship for decades.  I love their cheese and I love their work ethic. 

Here is a quote from a Wisconsin State Journal recent interview:

Q:  Do you still work 100 hours a week?

A:  It's back to around 80 hours a week, but now it seems like fun.  I get to deal more directly with peopleand they're buying your product, that's got your name on it.  Even though it's hard work, it doesn't seem as hard anymore.

Thank you Tony and Julie Hook!  Rock star cheese makers and amazing sustainable entrepreneurs.

The article about Hook's Cheese was written by Jane Burns in the Nov. 14th, 2012 Wisconsin State Journal.

Hook's Cheese

Iowa County Area Economic Development

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My current Kiva report - November 2012

 I just made my 34th micro loan to entrepreneurs on Kiva.

My small contributions are now working in 27 countries.

85.29% of my loans are directed to agriculture, food and related retail, in roughly equal balance.

About 75 per cent of my loans go to women entrepreneurs.

To date, my Kiva loans have a 100% repayment rate.

Kiva is amazing. Thanks to all involved!

Kiva.  Loans that change lives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Social Entrepreneurship - NY Times

Written by David Bornstein

Skoll Foundation

Thursday, November 08, 2012

2012 Iowa County Wisconsin Entrepreneurs of the Year

Congratulations 2012 Iowa County Wisconsin Entrepreneurs of the Year!

Our Iowa County Area Economic Development Corporation (ICAEDC) is proud to announce it’s first group of local business leaders chosen as Iowa County Area Entrepreneurs of the Year.

The awards are being presented in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week, Nov. 12-18, 2012.

According the Global Entrepreneurship Week website,  “The celebration of Global Entrepreneurship week is about unleashing ideas and doing what it takes to bring them to life—spotting opportunities, taking risks, solving problems, being creative, building connections and learning from both failure and success. It is about thinking big and making your mark on the world—doing good while doing well at the same time.”

This year’s award winners highlight both established and new businesses popping up all over Iowa County.  This is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur, and Iowa County is a great place to grow new businesses.

As the ICAEDC slogan says, “Iowa County, Wisconsin.  Come Grow With Us.

Winners for 2012 Iowa County Entrepreneurs of the Year include (from the photo left to right):

Kristin Mitchell Design - Kristin Mitchell

Johnston Gallery / Brewery Pottery - Tom and Diana Johnston.  (Diana in photo)

Walnut Hollow - Dave Ladd, Sandy Bartelt, Chris Ladd.  (Dave and Sandy in photo)

Bob's Bitchin' BBQ - Bob and Judy Page.  (Bob in photo at center)

Sielaff Corporation - Alex, Ulrich and Jason Sielaff

Rick Terrien, ICAEDC is on the far right.

Congratulations to our 2012 Iowa County Wisconsin Entrepreneurs of the Year!

Iowa County Area Economic Development Corporation 

This article appeared in today's Dodgeville Chronicle (11/8/12) but is not yet online.

Photo credit - Barry Hottmann - Thanks!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen annual party!

The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is a wonderful place.

It creates jobs and opportunities for all kinds of people including those with disabilities.

Today we celebrated their annual Foodservice Party.

It is an honor to be involved with this amazing group of friends and co-workers.  And when they throw a party...

My contribution to the party is to choose and call out playing cards for a really cool bingo game that Foodservice Director and Mistress of the Universe Annette Pierce (top photo) conjured up.

Playing this game with my all friends at the kitchen is wonderful.    Adam and Mitch (middle photo) are always great to work with and have fun with - when the boss lets us. 

My friends also tastefully redecorated my office during the party.  Brooke and Margaret seem pleased with the results.  (bottom photo)

But I was not without my own surprises.  An interview I did a couple of years ago at the opening of the kitchen quoted me as saying the new kitchen enterprise was "like a shiny spaceship landing in rural Wisconsin."  Of course, my friends at the kitchen then presented me with a tin foil hat with antennae made from spoons and forks.  A really beautiful thing that I've hidden away - waiting for the right moment - ever since.

Today I brought that beautiful hat out to wear during our card bingo games.  Perhaps that photo may show up in a future post.  Or not.

A special thanks to Annette and her staff and the entire Hodan Center team for all you do to make this possible.

Thanks to all my friends at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen for a great party! 

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Andy Hatch and Uplands Cheese. World-class cheese, great music, and smart local economic development

I really admire Andy Hatch and Uplands Cheese.

Check out the great story below about the demand for Andy's work.  Have you tried their Rush Creek Reserve?  Yikes!

And their amazing Pleasant Ridge Reserve has been named the nation’s top cheese by the American Cheese Society three years in a row - unprecedented professional recognition.

I get to work with Andy in Iowa County, Wisconsin.  Watching Andy combine family and business and music and those wonderful, wonderful cheeses is an honor.

Uplands Cheese is owned by the Gingrich and Patenaude families.  When I'm really lucky I get to share a venue in Iowa County where Mike and Carol Gingrich are sharing samples of their Pleasant Ridge Reserve.  

There is a lot of business wisdom from Andy in the article below.  It's never a straight line no matter what kind of enterprise you're in.  How you adapt, as Uplands Cheese did, is the difference between sustainable businesses and those that aren't.

You'll see how the drought hit their operations and the temptation to stretch the brand beyond what made it so great.

“It took a lot of self-discipline to not make cheese this year, watching your costs rise and your income shrivel,” Hatch said. “It’s tough not to say, ‘Well, we can make a couple batches on hay,’ but we didn’t.”

Andy and everyone at Uplands Cheese have created an amazing economic development story in Iowa County, Wisconsin.  Great cheese.  Great brand.  Great business wisdom.

This Wisconsin State Journal article was written by Jane Burns.  Oct. 31 2012

Much-anticipated Rush Creek Reserve cheese hits store shelves early.

"This year, Rush Creek Reserve lived up to its name."

"The much-anticipated cheese was on store shelves ahead of schedule this fall, pleasing the eager fans of the seasonal release from Uplands Cheese Co. in Dodgeville while helping to take the sting off a tough year at the company’s farm."

"You can’t believe the amount of emails and phone calls I’ve been getting in the last two weeks: ‘Is it ready yet? Is it ready yet?’” said Uplands cheesemaker Andy Hatch. “I think, ‘You remembered? Did you write it on your calendar?”

 Thank you Uplands Cheese and Andy Hatch!

Wisconsin State Journal story: Much-anticipated Rush Creek Reserve cheese hits store shelves early.  Written by Jane Burns.  Oct. 31, 2012

Uplands Cheese Company,  Dodgeville, WI.

Iowa County Area Economic Development

Point Five. The wonderful band Andy plays with.  I love their music.  -  "Point Five is an Americana Acoustic Band from Mineral Point that really rocks!",  Americana Gazette Magazine. 

My favorite Andy Hatch quote from the article - because it vindicates MY favorite way to eat Rush Creek Reserve...  “My wife treats it like a Haagen-Dazs. I’ll come home and she’ll be sitting there with Rush Creek and a spoon.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two new Iowa County, WI food businesses in the news

This was a great weekend for two new Iowa County, Wisconsin food businesses.

First up... Acala Farms in Barneveld.   Our friends Sarah and Peter Botham recently launched a new venture, Acala Farms, to introduce beautiful, flavor-infused cooking oils made from cottonseed.  Stop at Botham Vineyards and Winery in Barneveld, WI for a tasting.
Quoting a story this weekend in the Wisconsin State Journal: 

Botham Vineyards banks on cottonseed cooking oil  (linked below)

"The oils can be drizzled on pasta, vegetables, popcorn and salads. They also can be used as dipping oils in the same fashion as olive oil. 'It adds flavor to everything you can think of. It's a great dipping oil. All of the flavors are wonderful for dipping with bread,' Sarah Botham said."

"It has superior cooking qualities, (UW-Madison animal science professor)  Cook said."

Sarah Botham certainly won't disagree.

"These oils," she said with a smile, "are something special."


Next up....Kusaka Restaurant in Mineral Point.  

Hiroko and Chris wonderful food entrepreneurs and really delightful people. 

From Japan to Mineral Point: Kusaka is an unexpected rural find.  (linked below)

"Hiroko and Chris met in Sendai City, Japan, where Chris was teaching English and Hiroko was a cook in a hospital. She's a professionally trained chef, and together they opened a coffee shop... Then in 2011 came the tsunami — and the subsequent nuclear fallout."

"Chris' mother lives in Dodgeville, and the two decamped to Wisconsin and moved in with her. Shortly after, they got an offer to take over a vacant space in Mineral Point, and Kusaka was born in July of this year."

"To put things into perspective, you should know that all the ramen noodles in New York City come from just three factories."

"Hiroko and Chris Messer are making their own handmade ramen noodles at their restaurant, Kusaka, in Mineral Point. And they're not using a pasta machine, as is conventional for the DIY crowd. This is hand-kneaded, hand-rolled and hand-cut."

"For now, the very gregarious and efficient Chris is host, waiter and kitchen helper, while Hiroko is chef. The couple have begun to hire some help, and as word spreads, they're going to need it."

Congratulations to our Iowa County food entrepreneurs!

Botham Vineyards banks on cottonseed cooking oil Wisconsin State Journal. Oct. 28, 2012.  Written by by Rob Schultz.

    Acala Farms    &   Botham Vineyards

From Japan to Mineral Point: Kusaka is an unexpected rural find.   Isthmus.  Oct. 25, 2012.  Written by Andre Darlington.

   Kusaka Japanese Restaurant 

Visit Iowa County Wisconsin   Lodging, restaurants.  Culture, arts.  Artisan food and farms.   Iowa County Area Economic Development, where I work.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches

I work in economic development with a focus on regional foods.

However, I'm not really a food guy.  My lifelong favorite food is peanut butter.  Not exactly a foodie thing, but there it is.

I thought I had tried every combination of peanut butter and (everything) sandwiches.

Then a friend sent me the New York Times food article:  Peanut Butter Takes On an Unlikely Best Friend.

Yep.  Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

"LIKE Krazy and Ignatz, Carville and Matalin, Cupid and Psyche or Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, the peanut butter and pickle sandwich is one of those unlikely pairings that shouldn’t work, but does."

I laughed then I made one.  Then I made two.  After the third, I'm hooked.

Peanut Butter Takes On an Unlikely Best Friend.  NY Times.  By Dwight Garner.  Published Oct. 22, 2012

Cucumber food facts, thanks to the Wisconsin Farmers Market Association:  "Cucumbers do not contain an abundance of nutrients -- they contain mostly water but do have small amounts of lutein which is essential in eye health.  Did you ever hear the phrase, "cool as a cucumber"?  ... you'll find the inside of a cucumber to be 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperatures in the summer heat!  Native to India, cucumbers may be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Food Enterprise Center Grand Opening. Congratulations Sue and Vernon County, Wisconsin!

What a wonderful day for Vernon County, Wisconsin and the world!

My friend Sue Noble is a great economic developer. 

Yesterday Sue and a zillion friends including me celebrated the Grand Opening of their Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua.

This building was a manufacturing plant and a hub for good regional jobs for decades.  When the owners shut the plant down Sue and her team acted boldly.

Sue focused on food as economic development.  In doing so she converted a problem into a world class asset.

Best of all though, is that Sue dedicated the re-opening of this facility to the men and women who lost their livelihoods when the former plant shut down.  Many were with us at the celebration today.

Congratulations Sue and to everyone involved with today's Grand Opening of the Food Enterprise Center! 

Vernon County Broadcaster story about Grand Opening story

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Help for entrepreneurs with disabilities

 Here is a great story about new organizations emerging to support entrepreneurs who have disabilities.

It's been a dream of mine to introduce entrepreneurs who have disabilities to the great team of people with disabilities working at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.  

Entrepreneurs with disabilities could be creating jobs for other people with disabilities as they develop their businesses.... good for all involved.

We are creating these kind of opportunities with small batch food startups.  

Professionally managed safe, legal kitchens can change the world.  That's what Annette Pierce and her culinary team at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen have taught me.

With this kind of platform, entrepreneurs who have disabilities can launch their own food businesses from wherever they live.  The food processing work can be done safely, legally and deliciously by Annette and her professional culinary team that includes many people with disabilities.

As demand grows, we can help launch new professional community kitchens and create new jobs and opportunities for all involved including entrepreneurs and workers who have disabilities.  

Chicago Tribune:  Help for entrepreneurs who have disabilities

"It is no secret that it is difficult for new small businesses to succeed.

Imagine the extra challenges faced by business owners with disabilities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people with disabilities are almost twice as likely as the general population to be self-employed. They are also much more likely to be unemployed or underemployed. When they plan to establish a business, people with disabilities confront extra challenges..."

The Innovation Kitchen model can be used to create startup opportunities for entrepreneurs who have disabilities as well as creating jobs and support for people with disabilities in our communities.

Help for entrepreneurs who have disabilitiesChicago Tribune article,  Written by Elliot Raphaelson,  April 27, 2012.  Copyright Tribune Media Services.

Information about food startups in professional community kitchens.  Our new social venture.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jack's in Skokie - 487 years of sustainable jobs

There are no higher honors for small business owners than long term, sustainable success and the earned loyalty of the people they employ and support.

Mary and I recently got the chance to eat breakfast at Jack's Restaurant in Skokie, IL.

Check out the years of service their employees have been with them. 

Talk about sustainable work...

Jack's has provided 94 years of combined employment for the owners Jack and George.

Jack's has provided 393 years of combined total employment for their employees.  

That's a combined total of 487 years of sustainable work.  At this writing Jack's has likely created more than 500 years worth of good local jobs.  Imagine if you could include all the many years worth of total jobs for people who worked there in the past.

Remarkable.  Congratulations to the entire family at Jack's! 

Jack's Menu and contact info 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Madison, WI ranked one of the top 20 American cities by Bloomberg.

Accolades for Madison, Wisconsin roll in regularly.  These awards are well deserved.

Madison is a great place to live and work.  I raised my family here and started successful businesses here.

Madison was just named one of the 20 best cities in the United States by Bloomberg.

Many thanks to my friend Jennifer Alexander for the Bloomberg news link.  Thanks also to Jennifer for many years of success as leader of the Madison Chamber of Commerce and our regional economic development organization, Thrive.

If you needs help connecting to this great city let me know.  

Here is the link to the Bloomberg story

City of Madison official site

 Jennifer Alexander at LinkedIn

Photo copyright David Nevala and Bloomberg.  Thanks.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mineral Point artists Tom and Diana Johnston featured in Wisconsin State Journal

My friends Tom and Diana Johnston were featured in last Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal under the 'Favorite spaces' column.  It's a very nice 'behind the scenes' introduction.

These good folks are the founders and owners of Brewery Pottery and the Johnston Gallery in Mineral Point, WI.

The newspaper story paints a picture of the beautiful living space Diana and Tom have created at their 1850s brewery - now turned into their home and studio. The story pays special tribute to the beautiful family table Tom built from redwood long ago in California.

I'm also thankful that Tom has served as a long term Board member of our Iowa County Area Economic Development Corp.

If you are looking for a great place to visit, check out this story then come visit the Johnston Gallery and Brewery Creek Pottery in beautiful Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

Former brewery has been fit for a family. Wisconsin State Journal article by Patricia Simms. Oct. 7, 2012

Brewery Pottery

Johnston Gallery

Iowa County Area Economic Development

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Make your life safer. No slip floors. Inside and outside.

I usually don't recommend individual businesses but I'm going to start ignoring that.

I had lunch this week with an old friend and former client who is a really cool specialty contractor. Mark provides a valuable service that few of us ever stop to consider.

My friend Mark Wilcox owns Wisconsin No Slip Floors. His firm offers treatments for most any surface - inside and outside - making it safer and even more beautiful. You don't have to put up with slippery, dangerous floors at home or at work.

Mark can make homes much safer - floors, tubs, showers, decks, and pools. At work, Wisconsin No Slip Floors can treat most floors to increase safety and decrease risk. We did our tub floor and it made an immediate difference.

It makes sense to invest in prevention rather than paying for injuries and time off work.

This would make an especially great gift for an older person in your life.

Mark at Wisconsin No Slip Floors is a craftsman and a great resource for people wanting to increase their safety at home and at work. He's also got some great no-slip products you can order and apply on your own.

Mark's base is in Southeast Wisconsin. His territory is typically all of Wisconsin and Northern Illinois but I'm sure you could coax him further with a great job. No guarantee, but if you mention promotion code 'Rick', Mark will probably split his McDonald's cookies with you.

This year, give yourself and your family the gift of safety. Wisconsin No Slip Floors.

Here is how to get in touch with Mark:

Check our Mark's photo galleries

Contact page

Visit Wisconsin No Slip Floors

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Video - Making it Sustainable - the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Prevention Speaks, part of the University Health Services program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, produced a series of videos at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen last year.

I especially like this short video below called 'Making it Sustainable', highlighting the theme of this blog. I got the opportunity to do an overview of what an Innovation Kitchen can do and how we might build a network of collaborating projects regionally and across the country.

I'll link to other good videos about the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen below.

Thanks to Prevention Speaks for helping highlight the valuable work that the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen has pioneered.

Farmers Expanding Markets. Farmers Expanding Markets. "We grow enough quantity all the time that we have more than we can sell at the stores," says Kevin Lucey, farmer. And that's where Innovation Kitchen comes in. (1:26)

Overview of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen. "A network of partners can benefit local farmers and schools with a facility focused on carefully controlling distribution , processing and packaging costs. Best of all, everyone gets a chance to regularly eat fresh, healthy food." (4:54)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Paul Jadin joins Thrive. Welcome!

The most important topic in the world of economic development is how to initiate and integrate positive change across bigger regions.

Our eight county Thrive region in South central Wisconsin has done some great work in developing this model.

Paul Jadin has just joined Thrive as head of its new leadership team. Welcome Paul!

The Thrive region is centered on Madison, Wisconsin, an amazing, globally relevant city with economic development possibilities baked in for decades to come.

The counties that share boundaries with Madison all contribute to our bigger, better story about this strategically cool region.

Our work in Iowa County area economic development has been a key driver in building a more cohesive regional Thrive network. The opportunities to expand these relationships are exciting.

Welcome to Thrive Paul. I am looking forward to working with you.


Iowa County Area Economic Development

Paul Jadin, LinkedIn

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rural food banks struggle to meet need

There was a great article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this weekend about the difficulty food banks are having getting enough food to meet the need.

The piece focused on problems in Southwest Pennsylvania, but it paints a picture that is universal among people working to support food programs across the U.S.

"Like the people they help, food pantries throughout southwestern Pennsylvania are struggling -- and in some cases, failing -- to make ends meet as skimpy federal food supplies, a tighter state budget, higher food prices and more needy clients strain resources."

This scenario is taking place all over the country. We need new and better ways of helping this situation.

One idea I've seen work is the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, in rural southwest Wisconsin. I've helped them launch their new model - a professionally staffed small-batch processing kitchen. This model also creates good jobs for people with disabilities. It also creates great new business opportunities for area farms.

This model can also include processing local foods for food bank programs as well as for retail sale.

A professionally staffed processing kitchen can make an immediate impact on a region in many ways: local jobs, support for local farms, increased food security, and great food.

We have a very good food system in the U.S. and it's getting better every day. However, there is a big space in the market that is clearly not being served by existing business models. Such as in the picture above. Such as all the small farms in this region that could be so much more productive with access to professional food processing services.

My goal has been to build a collaborative network of these kind of community focused facilities. This good article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is another argument for this kind of collaboration.

Rural food banks struggle to meet need. Written by Amy McConnell Schaarsmith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Photo of the Corner Cupboard Foodbank in Waynesburg, PA is copyright Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Voice of The River Valley and Enos Farms. Forward!

A great publication in our area is Voice of The River Valley. This month we welcome new Publisher and Editor Sara Lomasz Flesch, who takes over from Founder Mary Friedel-Hunt.

The Voice covers community events and great stories that inspire and enrich life in our area of the lower Wisconsin River. You can follow this great publication below.

This month features a great article about a friend of mine and a patron of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, Jeremy Lynch of Enos Farms. Enos Farms is in the Town of Wyoming in the northern part of Iowa County near Taliesen and Spring Green.

Jeremy and his fiancee Erin Crooks are featured in a wonderful article in this month's written by Sara Lomasz Flesch.

Here's a couple excerpts...

"Crooks and Lynch soon discovered their shared passion for food, cooking and farming and Crooks began working with Lynch in the fields at Enos Farms. She helped him refocus Enos Farms’ energies on catering weddings and other events featuring food grown, preserved, and/or procured from farms within 100 miles of Spring Green."

"Crooks had worked with the organization Outstanding in the Field, and last fall suggested hosting a similar event to promote the catering business and show off Enos Farms."

"After cutting trails on the farm and designating certain fields and groves for different courses of the gourmet meal, in October 2011 Enos Farms hosted its first in a series of “full moon dinners.” Cocktails, crackers and cheese were served in a vegetable field; a four-course gourmet meal was served in the walnut grove; and for dessert their guests hiked up to the knob and enjoyed coffee and dessert as the sun set and full moon rose."

"Subsequent dinners have featured themes like “Open Heart” for Valentine’s Day (Lynch’s birthday), “A Taste of the Isles,” and “Cinco de Mayo,” the latter of which featured black bean and spiced walnut tacos that guests can’t stop talking about. Future dinners are planned for Unity Chapel and Hilltop, those places of significance from Lynch’s child- hood that will also factor into another wedding they plan to host a year from now—their own."

The next farm dinner at Enos Farms is October 28th, their second annual Harvest Moon Dinner. You can join these good folks through the Enos Farms link below.

You can download the PDF copy of this great issue of Voice of the River Valley via the link below.

Congratulations Jeremy, Erin and Enos Farms!

Congratulations and welcome new Voice of The River Valley Publisher and Editor Sara Lomasz Flesch!

Enos Farms

Download the September issue of Voice of the River Valley. 7.4 MB

Friday, August 31, 2012


I think LinkedIn is a great business tool.

It's an easy way to introduce folks I want to invite to join business projects. I just send out LinkedIn professional profiles to the people involved.

I have been limiting my connections to people I've met or worked with. I'd also be glad to be introduced via LinkedIn to people with an interest in this blog.

If you would like to be connected please send a note through LinkedIn. You can find my profile and connection link below.

No matter what kind of enterprise you work with, this is a great way to professionally network.

Rick on LinkedIn

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thank you Illinois Farm Bureau!

Thanks to the Illinois Farm Bureau for the opportunity to present our ideas about developing Innovation Kitchen style business development projects across the region.

It was also really fun to catch up with many old friends and make so many new ones.

I even got a chance to ask Dr. Merrigan from USDA a question about best practices for rolling out our new Iowa County poultry processing capacities. I learned a lot. Doing regional poultry work is going to be a great opportunity for everyone involved.

In my presentation, I got to talk about how we built our last business around a successful collaboration among effective partners living and working in both Illinois and Wisconsin.

This was a great visit back to my home state. I look forward to working with all these great friends going forward.

Thank You Illinois Farm Bureau!

Photo. Illinois' Metamora Courthouse. Abraham Lincoln practiced law here. Metamora, IL is one of only two surviving courthouses on the historic Eighth Judicial Circuit traveled by Abraham Lincoln before his Presidency.

Illinois Farm Bureau

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dr. Kathleen Merrigan joins Monday's Illinois Farm Bureau gathering

I've really been looking forward to my talk next Monday at the Illinois Farm Bureau's Local Food Connections and Technical Summit.

USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan is now joining this gathering to make a presentation.

I just posted about the new small meat and poultry program USDA is initiating with the support of Dr. Merrigan. Our new plant in Iowa County will be among the leaders within this new opportunity.

Dr. Merrigan has been supportive of many great initiatives to diversify our food systems.

On Monday I'll be presenting results and possibilities that have risen from the development of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

Here is the speaker lineup for Monday in beautiful Bloomington, IL:

Cynthia Haskins, Manager of Business Development and Compliance, Illinois Farm Bureau

Director Robert Flider, Illinois Department of Agriculture

Director David Vaught, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Colleen Callahan, Illinois State Director, USDA Rural Development

Cynthia Haskins, Manager of Business Development and Compliance, Illinois Farm Bureau

Tiffany Carrington, Senior Program Specialist, USDA, Food and Nutrition Services

Carol Pinkerton, Buyer, Bureau of Strategic Sourcing, Illinois Central Management Services

Pat Stieren, Executive Director, Illinois Farmers’ Market Association

Mark Gebhards, Executive Director, Governmental Affairs and Commodities Division, Illinois Farm Bureau

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, U.S. Department of Agriculture

William Weissinger, Deputy Director, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Chicago District

Anthony Totta, President, Grow My Profits, LLC

Mike Nicometo, President, EmpowerTech

Rick Terrien, Executive Director, Iowa County (Wisconsin) Area Economic Development Corporation

Richard Weinzierl, Professor and Extension Entomologist, University of Illinois

Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms, University of Illinois Extension

Looks like a wonderful group. It is a special honor to have Dr. Kathleen Merrigna joining us!

Photo is from my first introduction to Dr. Merrigan. Also in photo is my great pal, economic development superstar and advisor to Presidents, Sue Noble, Executive Director of Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA). On the far right of the photo is Stan Gruszynski, Director of our Wisconsin USDA Rural Development

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dodgeville Chronicle article: Innovation Kitchen hosts Chinese scholars on educational tour

As a follow up to the visit by Chinese students to Iowa County, here is a nice article about this fun and valuable visit. The article is written by Jean Berns Jones, and was published on the front page of the Dodgeville Chronicle.

Thanks to the Chronicle for the great coverage. There is a direct link to the original article and their advertisers (all friends of mine!) below. Please patronize these good Chronicle advertisers. I am re-posting here so I can include the fun group photo of the visit.

I am especially glad for the article's emphasis on the good words of incoming Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping about his memories of living in the Upper Midwest as a foreign exchange student.

Innovation Kitchen hosts Chinese scholars on educational tour
By Jean Berns Jones
The Dodgeville Chronicle, August 2, 2012

A group of over thirty Chinese students and teachers visited the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in Mineral Point July 26th during an 18-day tour of three Midwestern states.

The Kitchen was on a prestigious list of about 35 places scheduled to be toured in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois from July 20 to August 6, as part of the educational "Rivers as Bridges" project between the U.S. and China.

It focuses on using rivers -- the Mississippi and the Yangtze -- to connect culture, conservation and commerce between the two countries. Natural resources organizations in the Midwest states cooperated in sponsoring the event.

Other stops included Northwestern University, The Field Museum, Chicago Metropolitan Water District, U.S. Geological Survey & Mississippi River lab, Mississippi River National Museum, Aqua Most Technology, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection, Crave Farm, Horicon Marsh International Education Center, and Trees for Tomorrow. The list also included numerous colleges and universities including the UW-Madison Research Park, Edgewood College, and more.

"It feels like quite a list to be on," said Rick Terrien, Executive Director of the Iowa County Area Economic Development Corporation (ICAEDC). The Innovation Kitchen is owned and operated by The Hodan Center in Mineral Point and was developed as a partnership between The Hodan Center and ICAEDC.

The kitchen is a processing facility for small farms and small food businesses that want to make products in a government-inspected facility for sale on the open market. It gives small businesses access to the same clean, safe, certified processing as larger businesses at an affordable price.

"Food in the Innovation Kitchen is prepared for sale across the U.S," Terrien explained. "The workers prepare recipes in small, affordable, commercial batches in their facility, which is state-of-the-art. The kitchen will help anyone living in the U.S. to start a food business."

The Rivers to Bridges course is sponsored by the Environment and Public Health Network for Chinese Students and Scholars (ENCSS). The organization was formed at the UW-Madison in 2006 and is a not-for-profit 501 C 3 corporation with members in 23 states and 27 Chinese provinces.

China's Vice-President Xi Jinping has called for innovative, people-to-people projects that emphasize mutual respect between the two cultures. Mr. Xi visited Muscatine, IA on the Mississippi in February, returning to the area and farm where he had lived as a foreign exchange student in his youth.

He is quoted as saying to a Midwestern audience, "To me, you are America."

A goal for Rivers as Bridges is to begin a youth-inspired relationship that can result in a renewal of the 1972 Shanghai Communique, a document signed by President Richard Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai on Nixon's visit to China to seek normalization of relations. The goal is to renew the Shanghai Communique in 2022.

The program hopes to establish long-term relationships that benefit the students, as well as encourage new business and government relationships since the youth will relay information they learn back to their family members and friends in China, according to Xiaojun Lu, president of ENCSS.

The visiting students came from "key high schools," as identified by Chinese educational authorities. The rigorous course focuses on public health and the environment. Of particular interest were sponsors who could showcase or demonstrate processes and products that expose students to issues involved in environmental monitoring or corrective practices.

"Environmental and public health problems are boundless, requiring a global exchange of information and experiences to solve them," said Lu. "Strategic measures to solve these common problems facing human beings include introducing key environmental and health issues to a younger generation across countries."

"The Midwest is a prime spot for students to get this exposure," Lu said, adding that this inaugural program could lead to future exchanges of teachers, students and sponsors that benefit the Midwest as well as China. Lu feels that the focus on high school students is a logical next step to ensure the needed research skills, collaborative spirit and global outlook were developed in future generations.

"At the Innovation Kitchen students saw a facility that helps small farms and food business successfully compete with firms that are much larger and how the kitchen, its employees and its clients contribute to a healthy rural community," Terrien explained.

"Since the Innovation Kitchen is owned and operated by a center supporting persons with disabilities, it provides employment for persons with disabilities who demonstrate the capacity of all persons in society to contribute to its economic and social well-being," Terrien added.

At the Kitchen, students learned about government food safety requirements that all businesses selling to the general public must meet, and the challenges facing small farms and businesses to meet those requirements. In addition, they learned about the Innovation Kitchen's services that help small businesses compete in the market and to start new businesses, and also about the contribution of small businesses and the Innovation Kitchen to local economies, sustainable agriculture, the hospitality industry, and healthy diets.

Terrien became involved with the ENCSS and the Rivers as Bridges program two years ago when he was speaking in Iowa at a multi-state economic development conference, telling about work that is being done in Iowa County.

"Two key people were in the audience," he said. "They pulled me aside and asked if the Innovation Kitchen would agree to be toured, to help teach people about safe, modern, regional food systems."


Thank you again to the Dodgeville Chronicle and writer Jean Berns Jones for the great coverage!

Original Dodgeville Chronicle story. Please patronize the Chronicle advertisers.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Iowa County Area Economic Development

ENCSS. Environment and Public Health Network for Chinese Students and Scholars. Thank you for a great visit!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to our new small poultry and meat plant in Iowa County, Wisconsin! Also... New USDA program for small poultry and meat plants announced.

What great news!

I can now start talking about the fact that we have a wonderful new small poultry and meat plant opening in Highland, in Iowa County Wisconsin.

We've been working on this in the background almost since I started doing economic development work in Iowa County.

This beautiful new plant is being designed to have a focus on poultry but also have the capacity to process rabbits and emu as well.

This is a big deal for many reasons.

Among them, the U.S. Department of Agriculture just created a great new pilot program for small, state-inspected poultry and meat processors to allow shipping their foods across state lines.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces New Opportunities for Small Meat and Poultry Processors (emphasis added)

"WASHINGTON, August 9, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that Ohio will be the first state to participate in USDA's Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program. Under this program, Ohio's small, state-inspected meat processors will be able to ship their products across state lines.

The cooperative interstate shipment program will expand economic opportunities for America's small meat and poultry processors, strengthen state and local economies, and increase consumer access to safe, locally-produced food."


This is great news for local foods and regional food systems everywhere.

Our new Iowa County USDA poultry and meat processing facility will begin opening this fall in Highland, Wisconsin.

The plan is to open with a commercial kitchen and meat counter for private label processing and local retail sales.

After that they will offer custom processing services for our region. Processing services will be available for chickens, turkeys, rabbits and emu at this beautiful new facility.

I can't wait to help tie this cool new Iowa County poultry and meat news to our amazing story at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

Perhaps the most important part to me personally is that I will now get to eat more home-made pie and delicious comfort food at Grandma's Restaurant in Highland, Wisconsin. The rest pales in comparison.

There is so much good news emerging for smaller scale, safe, professional food processing services of all kinds.

The new USDA program supporting small poultry and meat processors is great news for food economic development.

Now is the time to build a collaborative network of these facilities.

Iowa County, Wisconsin is an innovative and integral part of this national conversation.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces New Opportunities for Small Meat and Poultry Processors

Iowa County Area Economic Development

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Thank You Sysco Baraboo

We had a wonderful day meeting Sysco customers and sales folks at the Sysco Baraboo local foods expo in Middleton yesterday.

Thanks to Sysco and all the great new friends we made at the event.

The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen provides small-batch, professional food processing services. Food businesses of all sizes can benefit from this by having their own recipes made in our $1.5 million, 10,000 square food commercial kitchen. This is a great way to grow local food businesses.

We really enjoyed the Sysco local foods expo. Thanks very much for the invitation. We look forward to serving the Sysco team and the food professionals they support in our region!

Sysco Food Services of Baraboo

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Friday, August 03, 2012

Next presentation - Thank you Illinois Farm Bureau

I'm really looking forward to my next presentation.

I've been invited by the Illinois Farm Bureau to talk about the Innovation Kitchens model and regional food systems at their upcoming Local Food Connections and Technical Summit later this month.

This one is invitation-only. Attendees will include state and federal agencies, colleges and universities, nonprofits, councils, taskforces, farmer producer groups, government liaisons, economic development officers, and others.

I plan to talk about food safety, our wonderfully diverse workforce at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, optimizing facilities and equipment, food business challenges, and how local farmers can utilize our Innovation Kitchens business model to create jobs and new economic development opportunities for farm families.

My focus will be on how to create and integrate this kind of community based food processing capacity across multiple states.

This can improve the economic well-being of Illinois agriculture and enrich the quality of farm family life in Illinois and the region.

I'm honored to join this group of presenters:

Director Bob Flider, Director of Illinois Department of Agriculture

Director David Vaught, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Director Colleen Callahan, USDA Rural Development

Cynthia Haskins, Manager of Business Development and Compliance, Illinois Farm Bureau

Tiffany Carrington, Senior Program Specialist, USDA, Food and Nutrition Services

Carol Pinkerton, Buyer, Bureau of Strategic Sourcing, Illinois Central Management Services

Pat Stieren, Executive Director, Illinois Farmers’ Market Association

William Weissinger, Deputy Director, United States Food and Drug Administration

Industry Experts discussing post harvesting, distribution and marketing

Rick Terrien, Executive Director, Iowa County Area Economic Development Corporation

Richard Weinzierl, Professor and Extension Entomologist, University of Illinois Extension

Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Extension Educator, Local Food System and Small Farms, University of Illinois Extension

What seems important to me about this opportunity is that our last business was an Illinois / Wisconsin collaboration. Our business model not only flourished, we won the United States Small Business New Product of the Year Award for 2005, presented by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

The Illinois Farm Bureau presentation is in Bloomington, IL. We ran globally relevant green manufacturing and data management operations just 60 miles away in Streator, IL. At the same time we ran business development from Wisconsin. Together our enterprise served wonderful customers on 6 continents.

The Innovation Kitchens model is another great opportunity to do an effective, important Illinois / Wisconsin collaboration.

Thank you for the invitation, Illinois Farm Bureau. What a great opportunity to discuss new economic development opportunities for agriculture and our farm families.

Illinois Farm Bureau.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Iowa County Area Economic Development