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Wisconsin Ag News Headlines
Kawleski to Lead Central WI Agribusiness Innovation Center
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 06/16/2010

The group that's spearheading a proposed agribusiness park and farm innovation center in northern Clark County has a new leader. Mike Kawleski has been hired as the executive director of the Owen-based Central Wisconsin Agribusiness Innovation Center. The CWAIC's board is currently raising funds to help finance the project--which also hopes to become the primary home of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, should the show's leadership decide to hold the event in a permanent location.

Kawleski told Wisconsin Ag Connection that he has three primary rolls in his new position.

"My job will be to help raise money through grants and sponsorships, promote the project to potential donors, and help find future tenants for the facility," Kawleski said. "Once completed, this center will have a lot to offer and I'm very excited to be part of the beginning phases of what could be a huge resource for our state's agricultural industry."

Kawleski has served as the agribusiness marketing leader for Wisconsin Public Service for the past six years. He began his career as a farm broadcaster and then served as broadcast specialist for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. He later created and managed the corporate communications department for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and taught Agricultural Journalism classes as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mike also serves as president of the Wisconsin FFA Foundation board of directors.

Meanwhile, the park will be made up of 71 acres of vacant farmland that was acquired by the city through a land-swap agreement with Clark County. The 52,000 square-foot Ag Innovation Center would be used for research, education and serve as a place for other types of agricultural innovation. Another 87 acres would be available for purchase in the future should Wisconsin Farm Technology Days decide to utilize the facility as their permanent venue.

Last summer, the CWAIC held a kick-off meeting to begin the process of raising capital for the project. The group projected that the cost of building the center will likely be around $7.5 million. Since then, they have received a $4 million grant for the city of Owen to help put the project together, and had another $2.5 million already committed from other sources.

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