MATC part of food industry campus vision

November 30, 2011

From “Milwaukee summit considers food production as next industry cluster” — Move over, water industry and wind technology enthusiasts: The latest idea for creating clusters of jobs in Wisconsin is to cultivate the food industry.

From raising crops and fish inside abandoned warehouses to retrofitting blighted buildings into coffee shops or Hispanic food stores, attendees of a community development summit on Tuesday in Milwaukee heard compelling arguments that food production could be the key to growing jobs and prosperity in the state, especially in urban areas.

Armed with a laundry list of ways that Wisconsin reportedly leads the nation in both farming and food and beverage production, the seven-county Milwaukee 7 economic development initiative is actively seeking a site for a “food industry campus” designed to attract manufacturers of food products or equipment as well as food growers, said Shelley Jurewicz, vice president of economic development for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

“We’re looking to secure up to 150 acres of land, and we would go out and aggressively attract either food manufacturers or food equipment manufacturers to create kind of a consolidation of employers and we’re working with (Milwaukee Area Technical College) on developing three different food manufacturing diplomas,” said Jurewicz.

While Jurewicz would not disclose locations under consideration, she said, “we want there to be proximity somewhere to MATC food school so that we tie these industry folks into a talent pipeline coming through the technical college system.”

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