Victory from the Garden

By Sara Niccum – Business Strategy Associate

Recently, we’ve learned of many weaknesses in our supply chains for essential goods and services. Even technology cannot save us from processes that require some element of person-to-person interaction. Additionally, rapidly shifting demands are not easily met by disconnected supply chains.

But some underdog heroes are emerging during pandemic restrictions. One unsung beneficiary is the local food system and innovative delivery services. A Midwest case study is Market Wagon, a virtual farmers market, whose sales increased 400% following the stay-at-home order.

This is fantastic news for small business, the local food network and consumers. Unlike the distant network of producers that supply big-box chains, smaller producers can adapt quickly to meet consumers’ demands.

Market Wagon brokers the distribution of empirically fresher produce than one finds at the grocery. Because the online market operates regionally, profits are recirculated into local economies and growers.

The sudden explosion of sales also resulted in immediate demand for employees. Market Wagon hired dozens of delivery drivers at the onset of the pandemic, further expanding its impact on the local economy.

Finally, now that contact tracing is a priority, the desire to “know your farmer” has never been more appropriate. Industrially produced food passes through many anonymous hands before it’s purchased, but local production is fulfilled by only two or three individuals.

The marriage of two disparate industries—small-scale agriculture and modern convenience technology—has led to a victory for local food. What other systemic improvements will be made by combining industries of the past and future?

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Building Capacity for Collecting High-Quality Data

By Laura Waldman – Director of Evaluation


I have been thinking about how to conduct our evaluation projects in a remote environment. One thing that’s struck me as I’ve been retooling evaluation plans is the need for more capacity building around data collection. Here are some tips and tricks for increasing the capacity to collect high-quality data.

Who will collect the data?

Especially with complex programs, identifying who will be responsible for data collection and ensuring that all data collectors use the same tools is key to collecting similar data across the program.

What is going to be collected?

Examine your tool. Consider the length of the tool, the types of data being requested, and the language used in the tool. Test the tool with a small group of your data collectors, if possible, to ensure it works.

Why is the data being collected?

When data collectors understand how the data will be used and the crucial role that they play, they’re more likely to be invested in the process and to collect and report their data carefully.

How do you collect it?

Walking data collectors through the step-by-step process of using your data collection tool, even if the tool is a basic intake form, will ensure that all collectors use the tool in the same way. Provide them with written instructions that they can reference.

When will the data be reported?

To ensure that your data reporting schedule is not overly burdensome, consider the time commitment that the data collection may entail, and collectors’ other responsibilities.

Contact Laura at:





Advances in Career Tech Education for 2020-21

By Steven Gause – Senior Project Consultant

TPMA is now partnered with Intelitek, a world-leading developer and supplier of technology training solutions for manufacturing. It may seem impossible to virtually teach skills like industrial robotics and CNC machining, but Intelitek is doing just that. Students can now get the hands-on, real-world experience they need to learn technical skills when they cannot physically attend school. 

Intelitek’s online curriculum and live virtual programming give learners access to applied, visual training. Students see 3D graphic representations of the equipment they are learning and can program, run, and demonstrate their skills without having the equipment.

Patented simulation applications like RoboCell, CNCMotion, PLCMotion, and ProcessMotion are used for this process.  Trainings and curriculum are kept up to Industry 4.0 standards that prepare students to be leaders in the workforce—now and in the future.

Intelitek’s turnkey training solutions, including digital, offer national industry-recognized certifications from Yaskawa, Siemens, and Cognex.

In addition, Intelitek has partnered with Amazon to roll out its newest program, CoderZ, to teach coding in 5,500 schools. Students in grades 6-12 using CoderZ can learn to code virtual or real robots using a step-by-step curriculum. Intelitek programs are in 50 countries and in more than 26,000 schools. 

Intelitek’s tools are excellent news for a workforce that will see major upgrades and changes in the coming years.


Contact Steven at: