Michael Hostad, executive director and co-founder of The Commons, is leaving the Milwaukee-based talent development organization to work for a Green Bay-based agricultural technology startup. Hostad has led The Commons since he and Joe Poeschl co-founded the organization in 2014. Described as a “skills accelerator,” The Commons puts on innovation-related programming that connects Milwaukee-area high school and college students with local companies and community organizations. It is an initiative of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. The organization announced on social media Wednesday that Hostad is joining Fork Farms, which develops indoor hydroponic vertical farming technology. Based in Green Bay, the company partners with school districts, health care organizations, commercial kitchens and cafeterias and nonprofit organizations in states across the country. “Michael will build and lead Fork Farms' foundation in an effort to help mitigate food deserts and ensure food equity exists in communities all across our country,” The Commons said in its announcement, noting that Hostad plans to remain in Milwaukee. Hostad has been involved in the city’s startup and innovation scene throughout his career. Prior to his work with GMC, Hostad was director of web and mobile strategy and the chancellor’s designee for entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also founded the UWM App Brewery, which hires students to build mobile applications for researchers, nonprofits and startup organizations throughout the state. Hostad has also co-led the Light the Hoan project. Together with Ian Abston, Hostad helped raise $3.5 million for the initiative. In March, Hostad was named a Notable Alumni of Cardinal Stritch University by BizTimes Milwaukee.
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