by Katelyn Zima

The Wisconsin Family Business Forum hosted more than 126 participants at the second Annual Family Business Expo on Dec. 2, 2010, at LaSure’s Banquet Hall in Oshkosh, Wis. With 75 Forum members in attendance and 31 booths, the Expo was a great success.

“This being the second year, many of our members and sponsors knew this to be a great networking opportunity in a casual environment where they could also promote their businesses to others within the Forum,” said Donna Nelson, who manages most of the Forum program planning.

The Wisconsin Family Business Forum was formed in 1995 as a way to foster healthy family businesses through educational programs, affinity groups and a wide variety of family business resources. As a partnership, owners, non-family managers, family business professionals and educators contribute to the Forum’s value by sharing their expertise and experiences and by learning from one another.

Sue Schierstedt, who has been the executive director of the Forum since its inception, has seen the growth of the Forum and the demand for the programs increase throughout the years. Schierstedt said, “In 1996, the Forum provided educational programs for family businesses in the Fox Valley area and started a resource center that provides books and other materials about family business practices and issues. Now, in addition to programs, the Forum has seven peer groups, holds a family business expo, offers a Family Business Education Certificate program, awards an annual scholarship, has a radio talk show series, and is exploring expansion into the Sheboygan area.”

“When a core of family businesses, trusted advisors and the College launched the Forum, its mission was to foster healthy family businesses. That mission remains at the heart of the Forum,” Schierstedt said. That key focus has allowed the Forum to grow from 14 family business members in 1996 to currently having 41 family business members and 13 professional service sponsors, including five charter members and two charter sponsors. Forum members span the region from Fond du Lac to Green Bay and from Berlin to Manitowoc. As it celebrates its 15 year anniversary, the Forum is proud to have worked directly with over 95 family businesses in the region.

For more information about the Wisconsin Family Business Forum, please visit their website at wfbf.uwosh.edu.

View Expo photo gallery.