The cluster is an outgrowth of an advisory council that has been meeting for the past year, led by: Cathy Henry, president and chief operating officer of Sysco Food Service; Giacomo Falluca, president and chief executive officer of Palermo's Pizza; and Eric Oleson, president and co-owner, O&H Danish Bakery.
The food and beverage cluster – or FaB Milwaukee – aims to leverage the region's diverse industry leadership, a high concentration of skilled workers and production and manufacturing prowess to grow, expand and attract companies in the food and beverage industry and its supply chain network.
Milwaukee 7 vice president Shelley Jurewicz will serve as executive director of FaB Milwaukee and believes it will not only shed light on what the region has to offer this industry, but also what the region's manufacturers and supporting businesses can offer each other.
"We truly have a wealth of companies in this industry, in this region," Jurewicz said. "Everyone from growers, makers, bakers, brewers, bottlers, educators, scientists, farmers, distributors, grocers and restaurateurs bring something to the table."
There are currently 243 food and beverage manufacturers located in the seven-county Milwaukee region, employing 14,700 people. Seven of the world's 11 largest food manufacturers have a presence in the region, and Wisconsin has the greatest concentration of food industry workers in the nation.
FaB Milwaukee plans to grow the industry by:
1. Building a world-premiere industry network - to foster industry connections and growth.
2. Creating industry career pathways - to attract a world-class talent base.
3. Leading sustainable industry innovation - to advance the industry and the communities.
4. Providing single-source industry assistance - to grow companies exporting products outside the region.
5. Marketing industry cluster strengths - to attract business to the Milwaukee region.
Jurewicz added, "Our mission is to make the Milwaukee region an easy choice to innovate, start, expand or locate your food or beverage operation and enjoy a rewarding industry career. Ultimately, our success will be measured by job creation in food and beverage manufacturing and innovation."
To attend the FaB Milwaukee kickoff event, contact Marjorie Yoshida at firstname.lastname@example.org to register. The event will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Pilot House at Discovery World on Milwaukee's lakefront.
FaB Milwaukee is supported through contributions from its founding sponsors: Milwaukee Water Works (MWW); Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD); Baptista's; and Grant Thornton.
The next FaB Executive Food Forum is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15 from
4 to 7 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel at 10499 Innovation Drive in Wauwatosa and will feature a CEO panel hosted by Grant Thornton on "Social Media in the Food Industry."