Firms, MATC seek funding for Food Maker School

Firms, MATC seek funding for Food Maker School

November 14, 2014
Denise Lockwood, Business Journal



Organizers of a new Food Maker School and Center of Excellence are seeking $5 million in federal funding and grants to help operate the facility.

Milwaukee Area Technical College and FaB Wisconsin, a consortium of food and beverage manufacturers looking to spur economic development in the industry, announced plans Nov. 10 to establish the school and center at 816 W. National Ave., Milwaukee.

Shelley Jurewicz, executive director for FaB Wisconsin, said the school is slated to start in the fall of 2016. The plan is to seek $2.5 million in federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Association and $2.5 million in grants from other sources including Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and local sources. Plans for the school still need to be approved by the state.

"We're just in the beginning of this," she said. "Now it's game on and it's going to be an aggressive next couple of years."

MATC plans to offer instructional technical food programs, a pilot-scale sauce production line with co-pack capacity, and laboratories for product development, food analysis and microbiology testing.

The state has about 47,000 employees who work in the food and beverage processing and manufacturing industry, a sector that ranks second in the nation for employment growth. With more than 250 companies and 14,000 people employed in the industry, the Milwaukee region also has the highest concentration of food, beverage, and ingredient makers in the nation.

"All of the technical colleges have culinary and hospitality programs and they are really good at teaching the fork side of things, but none of those spaces are dedicated food manufacturing," Jurewicz said.