Gov. Walker announces $700,000 in grants to support entrepreneurship in dairy industry
MADISON - Governor Scott Walker today visited the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Great Lake Cheese to award $700,000 state grants to support and promote entrepreneurship within the state’s $43 billion dairy industry.
The grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will enable CDR to continue to provide companies with grants of up to $20,000 to support the commercialization of unique dairy technologies and products. Launched in 2013, the Tech Transfer, University, Research and Business Opportunity (TURBO) Program has helped 11 companies purchase equipment needed for new products or processes. To date, this program has helped create or retain 29 jobs in rural communities.
“The TURBO program has a proven track record of success in a legacy industry that employs nearly 80,000 people statewide,” said Governor Walker. “We must continue to invest in programs like this to ensure that dairy-related businesses can continue to compete in an ever-changing environment.”
CDR’s TURBO program was launched to provide business assistance and technology transfer opportunities to dairy manufacturers and was originally funded through an i6 Challenge grant from the United States Department of Commerce.
Great Lakes Cheese Co. received a $500,000 state grant that will assist the company in training workers for its facility now under construction in Wausau.
“As companies like Great Lake Cheese continue to grow in Wisconsin, it’s imperative that we help those businesses find way to ensure that their workers receive the training needed to compete in our ever-changing economy,” Governor Walker said. “We applaud Great Lakes Cheese for not only investing in our state, but for investing in its workers.”
“As we continue to expand and modernize our operations in Wisconsin, it's imperative that our workers have the skills and training required to operate the modern state-of-the-art equipment we will utilize in the new Wausau plant,” said Matt Wilkinson, project management director for Great Lakes Cheese. “Employee training is vital not just to the success of Great Lakes Cheese as a local employer, but for our ongoing commitment to producing delicious world class cheese. We thank the state of Wisconsin for supporting our efforts to continue to develop and enhance the skills of our workforce.”
Great Lakes Cheese, which serves the nation’s retailers and food service operations as a premier manufacturer and packer of natural and processed bulk, shredded, and sliced cheeses, is building a new $95 million state-of-the art cheese packaging facility at the Wausau West Industrial Park. The 180,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in January 2019.
The company is receiving the $500,000 Workforce Training Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to train employees on the on new equipment and processes at the new facility. The company is matching the state’s investment for training.
Governor Walker made the announcement as part of the state’s second annual Wisconsin Cheese Day, an event that highlights the importance of the cheese industry to the state’s economy and acknowledges the cheesemakers’ contributions to the industry.
Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Sheila Harsdorf, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary and CEO Mark R. Hogan and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, joined legislators and other state and local officials in visiting 13 cheese companies throughout the state today.