Attention DC Food, Beverage and Consumable Producers!

Specialized training offered for Door County food, beverage, and consumer product businesses

Program designed to help local entrepreneurs develop efficiencies, grow markets, and optimize business growth and resilience

A pilot program to advance the state’s small food and beverage businesses will be offered in Door County this spring with support from a $100,000 federal grant.

Financial management boot camps and customized consulting for food manufacturing companies and entrepreneurs will be provided by the Food Finance Institute (FFI) and the Small Business Development Center at UWGB (SBDC). Both programs are part of the University of Wisconsin System Administration’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship.

The food and beverage industry is a strong component of the Wisconsin economy with more than 1,400 companies, and food processing generates $67.8 billion in sales, according to data from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Wisconsin’s food industry jobs are changing. Nearly 3,500 food industry jobs were lost to closures from April 2016 to March 2018, including 1,800 in food retail establishments such as convenience stores and supermarkets and 800 at major plants (Kraft Heinz Foods and Tyson).  

The Expanding Food Manufacturing in Wisconsin Initiative responds to that challenge in two ways: 1. creating higher-paid manufacturing jobs for displaced retail workers who already have industry-specific skills. 2. Boosting rural economic vitality at existing food companies located in rural areas.

With funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the local boot camp will be held for four full-days from April 4-7 at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor.

Financial management boot camps combine industry-specific training, peer networking and one-on-one consulting to provide the tools necessary to build a more resilient food business.

The curriculum and approach were developed by FFI Director Tera Johnson over the past two years in working with businesses and organizations all across the country.

 “The ever-growing global food and beverage industry is being driven by trends for products that are healthy, source-verified, safe, sustainable and locally branded — an edge for Wisconsin’s ag-driven economy and businesses,” Johnson said.

Sessions include instruction on how to:

• Optimize a business model based on food industry standards.

• Fix financial infrastructure with proper financial statements to help clients and their stakeholders fully understand the business.

• Develop a financial plan, including realistic and research-based forecasts of sales, marketing and funding sources.

• Prepare to raise money by creating an investment pitch and properly documenting the business.

Ideal candidates for this program are:

• Young or small food or value-added farm businesses that want to grow, yet are too small for traditional investment banking and need financial technical assistance to raise equity.

• Local food and value-added farm businesses that need to expand to reach a critical mass of sales to be economically sustainable or that need to expand beyond farmer’s markets to make a positive contribution to the family enterprise.

• Local food businesses that want to become national brands or whose business models need to evolve for economic sustainability.

• Food companies looking to set up their own manufacturing facilities.

“As we developed our Strategic Work Plan at DCEDC, we identified food and beverage manufacturing as an area where we can catalyze economic growth and diversification,” said Jim Schuessler, Executive Director for Door County Development Corporation (DCEDC). “Tera Johnson is renowned for her success and innovation in the industry with Tera’s Whey. To be able to bring her here for a four-day intensive seminar with our local companies, and at no cost to the businesses, is fantastic.”

Due to the specialized one-to-one training, only 10 businesses will be chosen for the Door County boot camp. Applications will be accepted until March 1 at

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