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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

State awards funds for food, agribiz training in Western Wisconsin

From a story on WXOW News 19, La Crosse:

Matching funds boost total to $106,374

MADISON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Roberta Gassman today announced a Wisconsin Industry Partnership training grant of $53,105 to help meet the skilled workforce needs of an expanding food resource and agribusiness sector in western Wisconsin.

DWD's regional partner, the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, and 20 employers in the Food Resource and Agribusiness Network (FRAN) will provide $53,269 in matching funds for a project total of $106,374.

"These resources demonstrate how by working together, we can meet the needs of employers and prepare workers for jobs of tomorrow, resulting in a stronger Wisconsin economy," DWD Secretary Roberta Gassman said. "One of the region's main economic strengths is its agriculture and food processing industry. It is one reason why Wisconsin is a leading state in organic farming. The grant will help the food and agribusiness sector grow and create more jobs."

One FRAN employer includes Organic Valley of La Farge, the largest organic farm cooperative in the country. For over two decades, the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service has held its annual convention in La Crosse. Sales of organic products total nearly $133 million annually in Wisconsin.

Another FRAN partner is Kwik Trip, which is doubling the size of its bakery, a $30 million project expected to add more than 100 jobs. Last year, the western Wisconsin region's food resource and agribusiness sector had 3,374 jobs, and it is projected to add jobs in coming years.

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