From biztimes.com: “MATC to get $2.6 million from state for worker training” — Milwaukee Area Technical College will get $2.6 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funds from the state to train up to 546 workers for in-demand fields, Gov. Scott Walker announced today.

The funds are part of a $28 million grant package, announced earlier this week, for the state’s technical colleges to train up to 4,908 workers for jobs that employers need to fill.

“The Wisconsin Fast Forward program makes targeted investments in worker training, which will strengthen the workforce and ensure we have workers to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Walker said.

MATC will receive: $687,960 to train 125 students in early childhood education, $652,113 to train 66 students in truck driving, $546,945 to train 307 students in health care to be certified nursing assistants, and $703,500 to train 48 students in CNC manufacturing.

“This grant will provide MATC the opportunity to prepare area residents for employment in high-demand fields in southeastern Wisconsin,” said MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin. “These programs are among our most popular and the funds will allow us to educate, train, and prepare more students for careers that are essential to Wisconsin’s economic vitality.”

From expressmilwaukee.com: “Milwaukee supporting new food business concepts” – Greater Milwaukee is a sturdy hub for emerging food artists and continues to gain acclaim for the impressive amount of locally owned and operated businesses and restaurants within the foodie scene. Our city has many unique gourmet restaurants and businesses, mobile food trucks and distinctive product lines that continue to enter the market, but starting a business is not an easy feat. Giving local entrepreneurs a springboard to help begin realizing or further expand their food dreams is Milwaukee’s annual Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge.

Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), which has a great culinary program and entrepreneurial center; Reliable Water Services, a local provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and softeners for restaurants; and FaB Wisconsin, a food and beverage industry cluster helping to encourage other entrepreneurs to grow their business, are now in their third year of sponsoring the challenge, which seeks to find Wisconsin’s next great food entrepreneurs. Different from a recipe contest, this competition seeks to support inspired culinary concepts, so participants are not only judged on taste, but also creativity, possibility, marketability, packaging and other important factors that help lead to business success.

This year, participants entered in one of two categories: the Start Up category for those who are ready to take the next step and get their product on the market, and the Early Stage category for those who have already gone to market in small ways, but have been in the business three years or less and are looking to take their product to the next level.

This year, dozens of entrepreneurs entered the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. Three have been chosen as finalists in each category to compete for the two grand prizes of $2,000 seed money from Reliable Water Services, a comprehensive entrepreneur consultation package from MATC, a private meeting with FaB Wisconsin’s food industry executives and a funding and growth consultation with financial specialists at MW Growth Partners. Finalists are Mary Pellettieri’s (Milwaukee) Top Note Tonics sodas, Jennifer Goldbeck’s (Cedarburg) Packaged European Buttercream icings, and Nicole Meredith’s (Milwaukee) Wilhemena’s Pies pecan pies in the Start Up category; and Jackie Valent Lucca’s (Brookfield) Love Dust spices, Austin Ashley, Hallie Ashley and Zac Mathes’ (Viroqua) Wisco Pop! sodas, and Robyn Wright’s (Dousman) PoSaNa Organics gluten-free baking mixes in the Early Stage category.

Christel Henke, the Challenge’s project coordinator, says, “Milwaukee has such a great food culture and is so supportive of new food ideas, judging by the great number of restaurants and products that come into the market. It’s really fun to be able to help move forward some of these new concepts in a market that’s really receptive for it. And from a new business standpoint, from the aspect of supporting the local economy, we’re really helping move forward some of these new entrepreneurs.”

The final judging will take place at a Food Network-style event on Thursday, July 17, at noon at MATC’s new student-operated 6th Street Café (1015 N. Sixth St.). The event will feature eight renowned food expert judges who will listen to each finalist’s three-minute presentation about their concept, taste-test the product and then decide the grand prize winner of each category. A few judges include Kurt Fogle, executive pastry chef of SURG Restaurant Group, Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley, Jen Ede, publisher of Edible Milwaukee magazine and Rakesh (Ryan) Rehan, owner of Café India. And the best part about the event? The final judging is open to the public and samples of each participant’s product will be available to try.

For more information about this year’s finalists, judges or event details, visit Reliable Water Services’ website at www.hotwater247.com. Perspective food entrepreneurs are encouraged to check back often for future information about the challenge.

From jsonline.com: “Milwaukee Housing Authority OKs new technology training center” –The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee announced on Wednesday the creation of a $1.2 million technology training center, the first program to be developed outside the walls of its many public housing projects.

Antonio Perez, executive director of the housing authority, said the new center would be at the Adult Learning Center and would be operated in partnership with Milwaukee Area Technical College, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and others.

“We want to use housing as a platform to continue to be relevant to those inside and outside the walls of our housing units,” Perez said at the housing authority’s annual meeting, held under a tent in the parking lot of the Adult Learning Center, 1916 N. 4th St.

The new tech facility, called the Milwaukee iCenter, will be built in space on the second floor of the Adult Learning Center, which leases the building from St. Francis Church across the street. It is scheduled to open in 2015.

The center is financed with a $1.2 million grant that the housing authority received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

MATC will provide instruction, case management and tech support services at the center. Job readiness and youth educational activities will be provided by the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, Milwaukee Public Schools, the housing authority and others.

The center will blend classroom instruction with online advanced courses so that those who use the center can develop and improve their technology skills, prepare for jobs and use the training to potentially continue on to MATC for additional credentials and certifications in the tech industry.

Once completed, the center will be open to adult learners who attend the center, residents of housing authority projects, including nearby Hillside and Lapham Park, and others.

Perez said the housing authority looked for a place to house the tech center and decided instead to team up with the Adult Learning Center, which already teaches adult educational classes and has a staff and corps of an estimated 100 volunteers.

With decreasing federal money, the housing authority needs to leverage the government funds it receives and work with others in the community to provide services, he said.

The Adult Learning Center has been working with adults for 34 years and has helped more than 350 get their GED, said Herb Hayden, director.

“This new iCenter will bridge the technology divide and make adult learners more marketable,” he said of the new partnership with the housing authority.

The Adult Learning Center gets 90% of its money from foundations and private sources, with MATC providing teachers and support, he said.

Cynthia Dalton, 43, told those gathered for the meeting that she first went to the center in 2008 to work on her GED and managed to get it in 2013. But in the process, she got help with a hearing disability and housing, she told those gathered for the meeting.

While she was attending classes at the center, a volunteer noticed her speech and hearing difficulty and suggested she be tested, Hayden said in an interview.

“Since I was about 6 years old I’ve had speech and hearing problems, but I didn’t think they were so bad,” Dalton said.

Audiology tests showed she had about a 70% hearing loss, Hayden said.

“A hearing loss can impact and slow down learning,” he said.

Dalton said, “I was frustrated.”

After the tests and the diagnosis, a center volunteer paid for a hearing aid for Dalton, Hayden said.

“It’s made a huge difference,” she said. “I could hear and understand.”

Dalton said she also encountered homelessness and the center helped her to find shelter and later a place to live.

Today she’s studying at MATC and wants to be a nurse. She’s also learning sign language because she said she hopes to help those with hearing disabilities.

From gmtoday.com: “A Delicious experience: Cedarburg baker to take part in entrepreneur challenge” — CEDARBURG – Baking has been a part of Jennifer Goldbeck’s professional life for more than seven years. This month, she is entering a new chapter in her foray into the kitchen as she takes part in a local entrepreneurial competition.

Goldbeck, who owns Delicately Delicious in Cedarburg, is one of six finalists in a competition known as the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. The event will be held at noon July 17, at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s downtown campus.

The entrepreneur challenge, modeled after some of the competitions that have been prevalent on such cable channels as the Food Network, is split into two categories – one for start-up innovations and another for people who are in the early stages of their products.

Goldbeck is one of three finalists in the start-up category. She is going to be showcasing a European vanilla buttercream frosting mix that she recently began selling at her Cedarburg store.

The grand-prize winner within the two category competitions will receive $2,000 in seed money toward his or her business, in addition to a service through MATC that is being described as a comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package.

While Goldbeck is quick to admit she has her eyes on the prize, she said she is eagerly looking forward to meeting the judges and gathering any insight the various professionals might have. Eight food service veterans across the Milwaukee area will be judging the assorted entries.

“I’m excited to meet all of the people because everyone has such different experiences,” she said. “The time and expertise they will offer is very valuable.”

Goldbeck’s buttercream frosting mix has been a work in progress for about six months. In addition to refining the recipe, she fine-tuned the packing and the directions. Customer response, she said, has been positive.

“People are so much more food savvy today than they ever have been before,” she said. “There’s so much information out there, and people want something that’s quality and gourmet. There’s a craving for it.”

The upcoming challenge is one in a series of growth spurts for Delicately Delicious, which Goldbeck acquired in 2007 from a previous owner. For many years, the business sold only made-to-order cakes.

But Goldbeck decided to evolve the business three years ago, relocating from a commercial kitchen on Center Street to a retail storefront operation along Cedarburg’s bustling Washington Avenue corridor.

“It was good to perfect things,” Goldbeck said, in retrospect. All along, she said she aspired to morph Delicately Delicious into a retail bakery, but she believed the business could have failed if she made such a drastic change before making a series of tweaks.

In its retail iteration, Delicately Delicious features a variety of items that are sure to satisfy just about any person’s sweet tooth. She sells frosted single-layer cakes by the slice, but also showcases a range of cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods.

Early in 2013, Goldbeck expanded Delicately Delicious’ presence into the Bayshore Town Center. She operated a so-called pop-up kiosk shop for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. The response was so strong that she decided a year ago to have a presence at the mall full-time.

Goldbeck said she has a number of other projects on the horizon. In fact, one of them – selling a mix of her popular kitchen sink cookies – has just come to fruition. In late June, she began selling the product at the Piggly Wiggly store in Cedarburg.

Retail is a sector Goldbeck has been eyeing, both in a brick-and-mortar and online sense. She aspires to have her products featured through such companies as Williams-Sonoma, since they reach the same target consumer.

For Goldbeck, baking and growing Delicately Delicious has been a labor of love. When asked why she chose to concoct sweet creations, she offered a ready response.

“I enjoy meeting people in the community,” she said. “What’s been great about this is I help people with their celebrations. I get to see the progression in people’s lives for things like weddings, babies and graduations.”

From jsonline.com: “New president wants community to see MATC’s evolution” — Vicki Martin had a front-row seat as Milwaukee Area Technical College evolved from preparing young people for the trades to taking on the additional role of helping working adults reinvent themselves in a tumultuous economy.

But she’s not sure the community fully realizes the scope of that change.

The Milwaukee native and longtime administrator, whose first day as president was Wednesday, said one of her main goals is to change that.

“We hear a lot about how we’re the best-kept secret,” said Martin, who was MATC’s provost — chief academic officer — before being promoted to president eight days ago. “This institution is so important for so many people, and just about everyone in the community has been touched by an MATC graduate.”

MATC has 200 academic programs, nearly 400 transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees, and a Pre-College Education division that helps adults complete high school, prepare for college or enter the workforce. The college has a full-time equivalent enrollment of about 13,000 students at its four campuses. It serves a total of 43,000 students including community education, workforce training, and customized business training and workshops.

Managing enrollment will be key.

Community colleges saw a 5.9% dip in enrollment of students over the age of 24, more than double their overall decline, between spring 2012 and 2013, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse. MATC has seen its own declines; enrollment booms — like the 10% increase MATC saw at the peak of the recession — typically taper off as the economy rebounds.

But managing the way the community perceives the school also will be critical.

From jsonline.com: “Program brings classes to Granville Business Improvement District workers” –Manufacturers and other companies in the Granville Business Improvement District on Milwaukee’s northwest side were discussing their workforce needs last fall when the conversation moved beyond the jobs they wanted to fill.

They started talking about the workers they already had, and the skills they needed to become better employees and have a chance to advance in their companies.

One need was identified very quickly: computer skills.

“That was huge. People lack computer skills,” said Mary Hoehne, executive director of the business district. “Then another one was customer service. And another was entry-level supervision for first-time supervisors. And then basic manufacturing things, like manufacturing math, manufacturing blueprint reading — the kind of things you don’t learn if you’re a history major and you land a job with a manufacturer.”

Rather than just encourage employees to develop skills on their own or send them off to technical school, the business improvement district decided to bring the training to the workers.

The business improvement district and Milwaukee Area Technical College worked together to obtain a $15,000 Workforce Advancement Training grant. That allowed MATC and the district to set up a program in which MATC instructors would come out to the area to offer training in 2- to 21/2-hour sessions near the end of the workday.

The Incumbent Workforce Training Program classes, which are free to participants and companies, began at the end of April. Among the courses in the initial program:

■ Computer skills, which includes training in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access.

■ Technical skills, including separate courses in blueprint reading, machine trades math, technical communications and metallurgy.

■ Customer services skills, intended to help employees better communicate and serve customers.

■ Supervision skills, a course designed for the employee who is almost ready to be promoted to a supervisory or management position or who recently received a promotion.

Two of the courses are being held in a conference room at Busch Precision Inc. at 8200 Faulkner Road, while other locations are the Milwaukee Job Corps offices at 6665 N. 60th St. and the business improvement district offices at 7817 W. Brown Deer Road.

Mike Mallwitz, president of Busch Precision, said he believes “education is lifelong” and important to maintaining a strong local workforce.

“A lot of money goes into education to help people get jobs. But how do you keep them in those jobs? Well, you give them a little education — not years of it, but doses of skills they’re lacking so they can keep ascending,” Mallwitz said.

As better-trained employees are promoted, it opens up entry-level jobs.

“This is a great way to keep the workforce going,” Mallwitz said.

Doug Smith, the manager of a Walgreens store in the Granville area, said some of his employees are enrolled in the customer service and supervisor classes.

“When I saw these classes, I thought this was just perfect for my employees,” Smith said. “It gives them the step up, especially if they are trying to move into that supervisor role. It lets them know ahead of time exactly what they need.”

Susan Paprcka, the director of marketing for Busch Precision, was among those attending the class on blueprint reading.

“To me, this is so valuable in terms of growing manufacturing and the ‘skills gap’ everybody talks about,” she said. “People like myself, who haven’t been in this industry, this makes me want to stay in the industry when they offer professional development and learning kinds of opportunities.”

The classes are held in the late afternoon on a workday once a week, typically 3 or 3:30 p.m. About 80 Granville-area workers are enrolled in the program’s inaugural sessions. Participants come from manufacturers, insurers, retailers and other companies that are members of the Granville Business Improvement District.

“We are hoping this does open doors for people to get promoted,” Hoehne said. “That’s the hope of the grant — that people will get promoted and it will open doors.”

From jsonline.com: “MATC student conquers brain injuries, limitations to graduate” — By Karen Herzog – There must be a reason why she survived two major head injuries decades apart, says Roane Simkin, who will walk across a stage Wednesday with her service dog, Ice, to accept two associate degrees from Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Simkin, 53, is adapting to what her body and brain can no longer do.

At age 22, she had to learn again how to stand, walk and do many other basic things most take for granted after a horse she was riding reared up, fell on top of her, and rolled over her. After a rehab and healing period of about nine years, Simkin rebounded as much as possible.

But then she suffered another head injury at age 46 when a motorist plowed into the back of her Saab while she was stopped at a red light.

“The weird thing isn’t that this happened to me,” she says. “It’s that I keep walking away. Obviously, I’m here for something.”

Simkin will be among more than 1,400 MATC graduates who will receive degrees during a commencement ceremony at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Walking across the stage will mean more to her than the average graduate.

Doctors told her after her first brain injury that if she hadn’t been a well-trained dancer before her accident, she likely never would have walked again.

“Your brain reboots when you have a brain injury — how you process information and interact with the world,” she explained of the recovery process.

Simkin already has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English, and a master’s degree in human factors engineering — “literally the study of work,” she said. She enjoyed a lucrative consulting career as a human factors/ergonomics engineer — also known as business analyst — before her 2007 car accident, she said.

Through her studies the past three years at MATC, she has figured out how to still do the work she enjoys — helping people better interact with software and other technology — but in a different way.

She can no longer travel as a contractor because of mobility challenges and an inability to function well under fluorescent lights because they interfere with her ability to receive, process, recall and share information. So she has developed new skills such as web design that she can use without having to travel from workplace to workplace and deal with the lights.

Simkin double-majored at MATC in individualized technical studies and visual communications, also known as interactive media. The individualized technical studies program is customized to meet specific educational needs not served by other degree programs, combining skills and knowledge from different disciplines.

Wisconsin’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation helped her get back on her feet by paying for her education, she said.

“It behooves people who have disabilities,” Simkin said. “Do the mourning you have to do, get over it and start to do something. Use what you have. Start with what you want to do and figure out whether there is another way to do it.”

She doesn’t have the luxury of looking for a dream job when she graduates.

“I have to ask, ‘Will you accommodate my disability so I’m not in so much pain,'” she said, referring to headaches and confusion she experiences when she works in a room with fluorescent light. At school, Simkin wears a hat in classrooms with that type of lighting. Natural light from windows poses no issues.

Simkin is excited about the prospects of continuing to do the type of work she loves.

“I like putting information together that empowers people,” she said, adding that she may explore teaching at a community college at some point.

She joined MATC’s student government to regain social skills she lost after her 2007 accident. She’s the outgoing district governor for the state student government, an association of all 16 technical colleges in Wisconsin. She also works as a tutoring associate and develops websites for MATC.

Simkin lost part of her temporal lobe, including muscle memory for balance and orienting, so her service dog, Ice, helps her with both. The rugged Anatolian shepherd dog also helps her walk on ice and snow, and carries things for her in a bag.

She has trouble adding long strings of numbers, which never was a problem before the 2007 accident. While working as an executive assistant prior to the accident, she could keep track of $30 million in a business, she said.

“To have had it and lost it is devastating,” she said.

Her body and different parts of her brain were affected by the second head injury. But ironically, she regained some abilities after the car accident, like “imagining forward” to do technical writing, which she struggled with after the first accident, she said. She also regained muscle memory to cook, which she couldn’t do after the horseback-riding accident, she said.

“One theory of memory is we retain everything; we just can’t access it under certain circumstances. I lost abilities, some of which I was able to reroute. It was like going through a maze. After two major brain injuries, I just remember what I can.”

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