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Mush Appreciated: M7 connections help Black Husky join Milwaukee’s brewery scene

We are brewers. We have no experience navigating all the unknown complications of moving a business. Milwaukee 7 has been the contributing factor in our success."

Since launching in 2005, the Milwaukee 7 Economic Development Partnership (M7) has facilitated some of the largest corporate attraction and expansion projects in Wisconsin history. But not all of M7’s projects are large-scale factories or corporate headquarters.

Take, for example, Black Husky Brewing – a microbrewery and tap room in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. Look at the bar and you’ll see a brass nameplate that permanently reserves a spot for M7 Vice President Jim Paetsch. Without the help that M7 provided in making connections and overcoming hurdles, says Black Husky co-owner Toni Eichinger, “I don’t think we’d be open.”

Toni and husband Tim Eichinger were living in Pembine, Wis. and working as human resources consultants when Tim took up home brewing as a hobby around 2006. Another hobby – their son’s interest in dog sledding – provided inspiration for the name Black Husky.

After taking his beers to a few beer festivals and connecting with Milwaukee-area tourists, Tim began developing a small group of devoted fans. Eventually, he started driving to Milwaukee once a week to make deliveries.

Tim and Toni started to consider moving to Milwaukee and building a new brewery, and a friend suggested they reach out to M7.

M7 helped the Eichingers with several aspects of planning the move, including real estate, financing, zoning and construction — even when Paetsch was overseas working on other large corporate attraction projects. “I can remember saying to him one day, ‘You know, Jim, because I email you at midnight doesn’t mean I need a response by 12:15 a.m.,’” Toni says.

Said Tim: “I don’t think Jim treated us any differently just because it was a mom-and pop shop. It was always very professional, it was always very responsive.”

While Black Husky might not provide hundreds of jobs throughout the Milwaukee Region, it does make an impact on its neighborhood. And they’re collaborating with other local breweries in the area, becoming yet another asset for Milwaukee.

“Black Husky embodies the spirit of craftmanship and entrepreneurism that has defined our region for decades,” Paetsch says. “We continue to make things in this region, whether it be electronics or machinery or beer. Tim and Toni have put their collective heart and soul into the brewery. They took a chance on Milwaukee and M7 is committed to helping them succeed.”

M7 continues to serve as a confidant and sounding board for Black Husky.

Adds Tim: “What Jim would always say is that our type of business is what they call a multiplier – we take a building and we fix it up and brighten it up, then other people see that and they come here. We improve the neighborhood. But then you also have people who are coming up for vacation on a weekend, they don’t come from Chicago just to visit us. They come here to visit Lakefront Brewery and Black Husky and the Milwaukee Brewing Company. So there gets to be a synergy. Even though we’re all smaller places, together you start being the multiplier where other businesses benefit, the neighborhood benefits, the community benefits, and so on.”

And they’re still turning to Paetsch for advice.

“It wasn’t just what he did, it’s what he continues to do,” Tim says. “This was not something where, here, let me get you going and we’re going to push you in the pool and now you’ll sink or swim. We still talk to Jim on a regular basis, we ask him for advice and he puts us in contact with people.”