The majority of my content is localized to Brown County, but there are too many exciting things happening in the state of Wisconsin to not share some of it here! Here are a few highlights in community, natural resources and economic development from around Wisconsin from this month:
I just found out about this innovative business in Ripon, Wisconsin this week. An indoor hydroponics operation, Ernessi Organics grows herbs and microgreens without soil. If you’re not familiar with hydroponics, you are able to apply a crop nutrient directly to the roots of a plant, and grow with growing lamps, without having to use pesticides or herbicides. Ernessi Organics has its products in many Festival Foods locations locally!
BelGioioso is a large scale employer in Brown County (primarily Denmark/Ledgeview), Wisconsin – and their highly visible, large operation in Southern Brown County is currently undergoing expansion. The family-owned business has a history of provolone making, but their regional best seller is fresh mozzarella. BelGioioso prides itself on using exceptionally fresh milk in their cheeses, claiming that 99% of milk used in their cheese was obtained from the cow less than 24 hours earlier. BelGioioso employs more than 700 people in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee’s Fortune Feature
Kudos to Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee, for this Fortune Magazine article about millennial entrepreneurs descending on the Brew City in recent years. Milwaukee is home to about 600,000 (as of 2010 Census), with a metropolitan area of 2 million (as of 2014). Historically, Milwaukee has been famous for its German and Polish immigrant influence, spurring in part the beer and sausage industries. Today, Milwaukee is home to six Fortune 500 companies, and the health care sector employs 27% of the city. On the Western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee combines work and play. The city was ranked as the 15th most walkable city out of 50 large cities in the US in 2011. Milwaukee is currently undergoing a massive expansion of their sports arena district, and is installing a streetcar project.
Madison’s Own Public Market
Announced last week, Madison’s historic Milwaukee Road (train) Depot will be rehabilitated to include a public market, taco bar and event space as the Washington Market. A train outside will even be a part of the project, being converted to a wet bar and rentable event space. The 113 year old building was designated in 1975 and historically connected Madison to Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul. While exciting, this project is weaving its way through city commissions, and on the early end, won’t be completed until mid 2017.
Dry Goods USA Coming to Fox Cities
I love a good small business success story, and from what I can tell – Dry Goods USA absolutely is one. While not a Wisconsin company, I’m excited to see the Iowa based company growing to our region. The Von Maur company started in 1872 in Davenport, IA as a dry goods store. Fast forward 130 years and Von Maur had grown as a regional department store across the Midwest and Southeast – with 2,500 employees. By 2012, those numbers were up to 27 stores and 4,000 employees. Today, there are 31 Von Maur locations as far East as Western New York and as far South as Alabama. In the 2000s, Von Maur launched the Dry Goods brand, a testament to their family’s original entrepreneurial venture. The women’s clothing and accessories store is a smaller scale mall format store, that has been rapidly expanding across the Midwest in markets where there is not a Von Maur presence. Dry Goods will be opening in the Fox River Mall this fall, a third Wisconsin location after their Mayfair and West Towne mall locations in metro Milwaukee and Madison.