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