THU AM News: Talking Trade with Steve Wallace of the Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company; Republicans to gather in mid-July for 2024 national convention in Milwaukee

Subscribers: This will be the final News Summary of the year. Products will resume Jan. 3. Thank you for subscribing!  

— In the latest episode of “Talking Trade,” Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company President Steve Wallace discusses challenges associated with growing the Milwaukee-based chocolate business. 

The company’s products are processed and produced in Ghana, one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa. 

“Overcoming history was difficult … the politics and the economics were very much centered on getting things cheaply from this part of the world and making money with it elsewhere,” he said. 

Wallace explained his goal for decades has been to “move up the cocoa value chain.” Ghana and the Ivory Coast are the two largest cocoa growers on the planet, but most of the value linked to cocoa and other commodities from the area is added elsewhere such as Europe or the United States, he said. 

“So we were disrupting this existing value chain, and there were a lot of parties — both within and without Ghana — that benefited from the old way of doing things,” Wallace said. 

State and federal officials in October announced Niche Cocoa of Ghana was partnering with Omanhene to establish its first North American manufacturing facility in the Franklin Business Park. According to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the project represents the largest food and beverage investment by an Africa-based company in U.S. history, and the largest Ghanan foreign direct investment ever made in Wisconsin. 

While Wisconsin wasn’t initially a top-of-mind destination for the project, Wallace pitched the Milwaukee area as “the perfect place” for the factory. 

“Largely because of our manufacturing expertise — in particular, the food and beverage expertise and ecosystem here — and the very highly trained and capable labor force, and the universities and the agricultural history of this state,” he said. 

Watch the latest episode here: 

“Talking Trade” is now available in audio form on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Subscribe and find more episodes here: 

See more on the company: 

— The RNC has announced the 2024 national convention in Milwaukee will run July 15-18, the earliest the party will meet to formally select its presidential nominee since 1980.

Yesterday’s announcement formally kicked off the countdown until the convention rolls into Wisconsin’s largest city. Milwaukee also was set to host the national Democratic convention in 2020 but that fizzled because of the pandemic.

Under then-Chair Reince Priebus, an RNC postmortem on the 2012 presidential race recommended moving the national convention to earlier in the summer.

The reasoning cited in that report included allowing the nominee more time to begin the general election phase. Among other things, presidential candidates have to wait until they are formally selected at the national convention to begin coordinated efforts with the party.

The 2012 GOP convention was Aug. 27-30, and it was moved up to July 18-21 in 2016. The 2020 convention was pushed back to late August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The earliest Dems have kicked off their convention in the last 60 years was July 10 in 1972.

Dems have yet to announce where or when they will have the party’s convention in 2024. The party is considering four cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and New York.

See the RNC release:

— The state’s Main Street Bounceback program is nearing a milestone of assisting nearly 7,800 businesses, according to WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. 

This program provides $10,000 grants to businesses and nonprofits to offset the cost of moving into a commercial space. It was launched in early 2021, with a total of $100 million allocated to the program since that time. It’s slated to end Dec. 31. 

In a recent column, Hughes said these grants are “bringing excitement to downtowns by filling in the gaps between stores, encouraging people to linger, shop, dine, and spend in their own communities.” 

She also highlighted an “unexpected result” of the program — more than half of the grants have gone to women-owned businesses, while more than a third went to businesses in rural parts of Wisconsin. 

“From these results, we’ve learned that when resources are available, underrepresented entrepreneurs in every part of our state are ready to jump in and succeed,” she wrote. 

Read the full column at 

— Economic development officials in Sheboygan County have launched a new accelerator program aimed at boosting startups in the area. 

The Sheboygan County Accelerator for Learning Entrepreneurship is being run by the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation and Lakeland University. It’s sponsored by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. 

The SCALE program will invest in up to six pre-revenue or early stage companies per cohort, the first of which begins in February. It’s free for participants, who will each get a technical assistance grant for $10,000. Half of that total will be provided after the first week of the 10-week program, with the rest coming at the end. 

Participants will go through 10 hours of curriculum per week, including two weekly meetings, one weekly networking event, community partner meetings and updates with staff and mentors. Program materials will be organized by Stephanie Hoskins, Lakeland University’s chair of business and entrepreneurship. 

According to a release, the program is meant to help startups get prepared for an equity-based accelerator or begin raising funds from angel investors or through crowdfunding. 

“We are just getting started with our entrepreneurial support efforts and looking forward to a variety of upcoming programs like SCALE, which will help keep founders local and support new endeavors,” Hoskins said in the release. 

Applications are due by Jan. 15. 

See more program information here: 

— Home sales in south central Wisconsin have slowed “beyond the typical seasonal dip,” according to a recent report from the Realtors Association of South Central Wisconsin. 

The region saw 1,092 home sales in November, compared to about 1,500 for the same month in 2020 and 2021. 

Meanwhile, inventory levels remain “remarkably low,” the report shows. While a “buyer’s market” typically has more than six months of inventory, a balanced market has between three and six months. Across the 10 smaller regions included in the report, the “month’s supply” value ranges between 0.9 months in Dane County to 2.2 months in the Green Lake/Marquette/Waushara area. 

“Sellers wanting to list now, at the right price points, still have an opportunity to reach motivated buyers,” the association wrote. 

See the report: 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i> 

— This year’s unusually early flu season continues to worsen in Wisconsin, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Health Services. 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and</i>

Sign up here:


# Evers to again propose marijuana legalization in state budget

# Wisconsin Gov. Evers is not ruling out state funds for train

# On the move: Businesses migrating out of downtown Milwaukee, USPS data show



– Industry leaders to be recognized during 2023 CheeseCon Expo


– Judge sets new demolition deadline for Northridge Mall, but there’s a catch


– A breakthrough for Great Lakes shipping, Congress authorizes a new heavy icebreaker

– Seeking a roof over their heads


– Inside the fall of UW’s smallest campus, which lost 84% of students in 4 years

– Gov. Evers gets an earful on education funding during budget listening session


– Wisconsin to see blowing snow, strong winds before Christmas

– State regulators seek federal help to investigate unsafe PFAS levels in northern Wisconsin town


– Wisconsin warns against a holiday tradition: Raw meat sandwiches

– Black Husky brings back beer brewed using Milwaukee’s Christmas tree

– The Buzz: An Appleton bistro that opened during the pandemic is closing


– Milwaukee among group of Midwestern cities considering worker incentive programs


– Quarles to expand footprint by combining with California law firm


– Outpost Natural Foods longtime GM to retire next year


– Ag Day at the Capitol slated for March 29

– Flat tax a ‘non-starter’ for Tony Evers in next Wisconsin budget

– Milwaukee set to host Republican National Convention July 15-18 in 2024

– Dates for 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee confirmed


– Evers: Wisconsin monitoring TikTok, no plans for a ban


– Frozen road law takes effect for northern Wisconsin


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Protect your company from business email compromise (BEC) scams

UW-Eau Claire: Dr. Kristen Abbott-Anderson named dean of UW-Eau Claire’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences