From starjournalnow.com: “Nicolet upgrades workforce training to boost economic development” – The economic recession of 2008 and 2009 caused a seismic shift in the American landscape. Perseverance, adaptation and resilience were all key to make it through the economic downturn.
“It was a time of dramatic change that happened relatively quickly,” said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “With everything that was happening in the economy, we knew at Nicolet that we were going to have to change how we approached workforce skills training as well.”
The recession deepened and enrollment at Nicolet surged to record levels as the unemployed sought job training for new careers. Employers realized existing employees needed higher skill sets for companies to be efficient and profitable.
“More was being expected of employees and we had to adapt to that in the type of workforce training we provided,” said Sandy Bishop, director of Workforce Development at Nicolet. “Technical skills have always been important and always will be. But along with solid technical skills, we were seeing more demand for employees with what some call soft skills. Knowing how to effectively work as a team, solving problems independently and quickly, communicating effectively, resolving conflict and adapting to change are all skills that many businesses require in their employees.”
Nicolet adapted by placing greater emphasis on these skills in classroom curricula, not only in credit classes, but also the whole complement of short-term, non-credit workforce development workshops that Bishop oversees.
“Employers have raised the bar on what they expect from their workforce,” Bishop explained. “In many ways, it’s like instilling the mindset that every employee is personally responsible for the success of the business. Everyone has to work together responsibly and effectively to be successful.”
Bishop stressed that teaching the latest technical skills is still at the core of what is taught in classes and workshops, and adding this extra level of soft skills was largely driven by what the college was hearing from area employers.
“Nicolet puts a strong emphasis on working in close partnership with area employers and this change is a great example of the effectiveness of these relationships and how the college can adapt to changing needs,” she said.
The numbers show that employers like the training Nicolet offers. Last year, 105 Northwoods employers contracted with the college to provide workforce development training, sending nearly 3,000 registrants to dozens of different workshops, classes and certification seminars.
Entrepreneurship and business development
Another recession-driven growth area for Nicolet has been in the areas of helping entrepreneurs launch businesses, and assisting existing new and small businesses in growing their operations.
“These two areas are key to lifting the Northwoods out of recession and growing the local economy,” said Michelle Madl-Soehren, Nicolet Business Development coordinator. “Many of the new jobs that are being created are coming from small business.”
To help fuel this growth, Madl-Soehren and others at Nicolet have developed a series of laddered workshops that offer increasing levels of instruction and advice for entrepreneurs looking to start a business and those looking to grow an existing business.
In the past year, Madl-Soehren has held 15 Explore Starting a Business workshops throughout the Northwoods to introduce students to the idea of business ownership.
“Starting and building a successful business is a step-by-step process and all the pieces have to be in place in order for any business to do well,” she explained. “In these workshops, we identify the critical components and then work with individuals to help them bring all the pieces together.”
The workshops–which are offered for free–have been held throughout the Northwoods in many different communities including Tomahawk, Minocqua, Eagle River, Crandon, Lac du Flambeau and Rhinelander. More than 50 people have attended these workshops.
As a follow-up for those wanting more detailed business development information, Nicolet recently launched the new 10-session E-Seed Innovative Entrepreneurship Training Program.
“Instruction covers practical, real-world management and planning tools that include all of the basics of starting a business,” Madl-Soehren said.
Specific topics include determining if business ownership is right for each individual, feasibility testing, business concept development, creating a business plan, bookkeeping and accounting systems, and legal issues facing business owners. Expert guest speakers also share their insights on running a successful business. Today, 10 students are enrolled in the E-Seed series currently offered by Nicolet at the Vilas County Business Incubator in Eagle River.
For more information about workforce and business development training opportunities at Nicolet, contact the college at (715) 365-4493, (800) 544-3039, ext. 4493; TDD (715) 365-4448. More information is also available online at nicoletcollege.edu. Once there, click on the Continuing Education link in the upper right corner of the page.
February 25, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Grant funds available for worker training” – Area businesses have the opportunity to upgrade the skills and productivity of their employees through training programs funded in part by the State of Wisconsin Workforce Advancement Training grants.
Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) is accepting requests through April 5 for consideration for such training programs, for training sessions to be held between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.
The training, available to for-profit businesses operating in Wisconsin, can include any combination of academic, occupational and employability topics or courses.
Grants anticipated to be available through this program are awarded to promote increased investment in the development of incumbent workers, improve Wisconsin business productivity and competitiveness, and augment the state’s economic base by expanding technical college training services to business and industry. The program also has the broader objective of supporting regional workforce and economic development efforts.
Since 2008, CVTC has been awarded over $2 million in Workforce Advancement Training grants to provide training for over 6,400 workers in over 50 different companies around west central Wisconsin.
The Workforce Advancement Training Grant Request for Consideration form may be found online at www.cvtc.edu/traininggrants. For more information, call 1-800-547-CVTC (2882), ext. 4676.
February 11, 2013
From chippewa-wi.com: “Chippewa County Businesses Receive Economic Development Recognition” – Winners of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) 2013 Biennial Economic Development Awards have been selected—two of the award recipients were Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) nominees. CCEDC nominated the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Progressive Rail (PR) who will receive their awards during the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development.
The CVTC, recognized for the 2013 WEDA Biennial Organization Award was nominated by CCEDC for their outstanding employer-employee based programs, technical certificate programs serving employers, workforce development, associate degree programs and high school programs. CCEDC believes the CVTC has strengthened the Chippewa Valley workforce and enhances the region for economic development. CVTC offers excellent academics, strong occupational training, small class sizes, and dedicated instructors providing Chippewa Valley students with high-quality education and training opportunities.
“Chippewa Valley Technical College takes its role in economic development very seriously, and we continue to work hard to help local companies by meeting their needs with highly trained workers in a variety of fields”, state Bruce Barker, CVTC President. “Economic development is best approached as a partnership, and we are proud to partner with business and industry and other agencies to forward the economic health of west central Wisconsin. We would like to thank WEDA for this recognition of our efforts.”
PR received the 2013 WEDA Biennial Company Award. CCEDC nominated PR for this award because of their transportation infrastructure improvements, support of existing and new industrial development initiatives thus eliminating congestion and inefficiencies and improving safety on the PR lines in Western Wisconsin. PR’s recently completed an addition of two-new passing tracks to its main line in Chippewa County signifies an over $5 million investment of private sector funds. The addition of these passing lanes has increased capacity to the entire rail network giving railcars operational feasibility and could be considered an industrial development incubator attracting more business and talent to the area.
“Perhaps the greatest mark of achievement in Progressive Rail’s track record is seen by the existing and new businesses that have elected to invest on our line which brings with that their commitment, careers, commerce and community involvement to Chippewa County and State of Wisconsin. I see railroads as America’s best economic development incubator and Progressive Rail is proud to be part of this investment”, stated Progressive Rails Owner and President Dave Fellon. “We are honored to be the recipient of the WEDA economic development award and are appreciative to the CCEDC and WEDA for recognizing our efforts.”
“It is always great when Chippewa County businesses such as CVTC and PR are recognized by a group that represents economic development for the entire State of Wisconsin” stated CCEDC President/CEO Charlie Walker. “The roles both CVTC and PR play are diverse and needed for successful economic development; I look forward to strengthening the partnership with these economic development team players as we work to expand the Wisconsin workforce and economic base.”
In 1985, WEDA established the Biennial Awards program with the purpose of recognizing exceptional contributions to the economic vitality of Wisconsin through the use of creativity, leadership, effort, investment or other attributes which further broad-based economic development goals and objectives within the State of Wisconsin.
February 7, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Tyler: Taking the ‘boring’ out of economic development” – On its face, fostering economic development seems to be a pretty straightforward process. But sometimes telling stories, not spouting statistics, is actually a more effective way to attract a prospect to an area’s business community.
That was the message delivered to an attentive audience by Woodville-based OEM Fabricators CEO Mark Tyler during the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting last month.
He pointed out that a variety of very good reasons are touted to entice a new business to move to the region or for an established business to go ahead with that expansion project — things like being close to markets, an area’s attractiveness and quality of life, along with reasonably priced real estate, great educational systems, good workforce, access to transportation corridors and supply, and solid demographics.
“You still need to provide buildable sites in industrial parks, still need to provide the data … to do all that stuff,” Tyler said. “But if we’re really going to differentiate ourselves from others … we really need to develop some new stories and work in different ways.”
Part of redefining the story comes in acknowledging that the world of business is divided into two parts: Economic drivers and economic followers.
Economic drivers — manufacturing, agriculture, education and mining — create what Tyler calls an “echo in the economy” and should constitute the focus of economic development efforts.
“You take a product, put it through some process, make it worth more money,” he explained. “You send it somewhere else, you bring your money here.”
While recognizing their importance in every community, Tyler contends that economic followers — banking, health care, insurance, retail and services — should not be the focus of economic development.
“The reason we don’t focus on them is that if we’re going to increase haircuts, we either have to make crew cuts stylish in men and women — or we have to have more people,” he said. “It’s a follower industry, not a leader industry.”
It’s the growers that create the value and increase the opportunities for the population to grow.
Blessed be Dunn County
Tyler pointed out that in addition to a strong foundation in leader industries, Dunn County is also blessed with good geography, specifically its proximity to the Twin Cities market to the west.
Little comes from the north and not much more from the south, he noted. “But most of what comes through is from the east and drives right through Dunn County. So from a distribution and logistics perspective, this is the Holy Grail for distribution [west] into the Twin Cities.
When it comes to attracting companies to the area, Tyler said, “One of the things that’s always frustrated me about relocation is you never know who the decision maker is. Oftentimes it’s the owner’s or the plant manager’s spouse. They may not decide where they’re going to look, but they’re going to decide where they’re not going to go.”
And then there’s the issue of how best to encouraging those thinking about starting up new businesses.
“We certainly want all that fundamental stuff in place where we have Extension classes that talk about how to start companies … marketing … putting together a business plan,” Tyler said. “But how do we tell the stories that … starting a company is OK? To get past the fear of putting the mortgage on their house on the line or taking out a second mortgage?”
Unless other entrepreneurs — especially fairly new ones — share their experiences in a way “so people understand that it’s possible, it doesn’t happen,” Tyler said.
The art of collaboration
Collaboration — as opposed to simple cooperation — is key, what Tyler calls participants “getting out of our silos.”
To explain the concept, he shared OEM’s recent success story involving a project the company recently undertook involving Chippewa Valley Technical College and Baldwin-Woodville High School.
“Th three of us got together and basically we made the agreement that people resources were going to be on the table, financial resources. … If there’s rules that get in the way … we would gather to fight the rules and together make progress.”
The triad created what they call a manufacturing pathway that starts with ninth grade students exploring the world of manufacturing.
“By the 10th grade, they declare that they’re going on this pathway,” Tyler explained. “By the time they’ve completed high school, they’re working part time, they’ve earned a half a year of credit tuition free toward their program, whether it’s welding or machine tool or industrial mechanics or whatever [at CVTC].”
The result is a faster path toward gainful — and meaningful — employment that benefits the student, the college and the company. OEM covers the student/employee’s tuition while he or she works 20 hours a week.
“We’ve looked at all the components and solved the problems — the financial problems, the teacher credential problems, the block time scheduling at the high school problems — all the things we worked on collectively to solve,” Tyler reflected, adding that while there are still some issues being worked out, “If all of us hadn’t put all our resources together, we couldn’t have got it done.”
Tyler estimates that OEM has hired more than 300 people over the past three years and spent $1.2 million recruiting, drug testing and training employees. He figures the new collaborative effort — at a cost of $4,000 to $4,500 per student — will provide substantial savings over the recruitment and training process.
Labor makes up 40 to 50 percent of the cost of doing business, and most manufacturers report difficulty in finding qualified workers.
“That’s their hot button,” Tyler said. “You solve any problem associated with that and you’re going to make some progress.”
On the administrative side of the business equation, Tyler pointed out that UW-Stout’s goal to have 100 percent of its students to participate in either a co-op program or internship could benefit local manufacturers and other economic drivers.
Noting that half of OEM’s management team are UW-Stout graduates, he said, “For about 15 years, we’ve been bringing in interns,” he said. “We found that about half of them never go away.”
Tyler said it finally occurred to them that perhaps OEM should recruit interns with the intent of keeping them on as future management staff. With more people leaving the workforce in western Wisconsin than entering, that kind of retention could have a dramatic impact on the region’s economic viability.
“I would really like to see participation and collaboration with helping build the talent pipeline,” Tyler said. “Workforce development and economic development are really the same thing in today’s climate.”
And in the meantime, keep those stories coming.
February 1, 2013
biztimes.com: “Panel says skilled workers needed for economic expansion” – Growth and expansion in Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector is stalling because of a lack of skilled workers, a panel of experts reported to the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board this week.
“Manufacturers across Wisconsin consistently point to skill shortages as a ‘pacing’ issue,” said Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation and one of four panelists. “In other words, skills training drives their ability to grow and expand.”In a December survey of the Wisconsin manufacturing industry conducted by Schenck, an Appleton-based accounting and consulting firm, nearly 90 percent of respondents indicated a skilled labor shortage was affecting sales growth and expansion opportunities.
Other panelists speaking before the board included John Schwantes, a director with Johnsonville Sausage in Sheboygan Falls, Fox Valley Technical College president Susan May and Jim Mackey, WTCS education director for manufacturing programs.
“We’ve certainly been challenged with skills shortages,” said Schwantes, a member of the WTCS board. “But we’ve also been engaged in developing the kinds of flexible K-12 and technical college partnerships that help us address those challenges.”
The technical colleges offer more than 60 education and training programs in manufacturing, with about 9,000 students enrolled, as well as customized training and technical assistance. “Our members believe the technical colleges are the preferred providers of skills training,” Morgan told the board.
May highlighted long-standing partnerships her college has with regional manufacturers. She also pointed out that the technical colleges must aggressively manage their “program mix,” balancing the needs of employers and interest of students across sectors.
“At some point, the colleges bump into issues related to student pipeline and college capacity,” said WTCS board president Mark Tyler. “We work hard with our partners to generate interest in manufacturing programs and careers, but we face challenges there, and in ensuring the colleges have the physical and instructional capacity to deliver graduates.”
November 15, 2012
From spcitytimes.com: “Stevens Point receives grant for MSTC site assessment” – The City of Stevens Point has been awarded a $34,500 Site Assessment Grant by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to assist in environmental investigation on a site located at 1201 Third Court.This grant is in addition to a future grant application the city will apply for through the Wisconsin DNR as announced at Monday night’s finance committee meeting.
The Community Development Authority of the City of Stevens Point acquired the 3.83 acre site property in October 2011 by condemnation. The grant will facilitate the redevelopment of the former CenterPoint Mall by Mid-State Technical College. Mid-State will be renovating a portion of the former mall as part of Mid-State’s new campus.
“We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this grant, and we are grateful for the continued support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation of this project,” said Michael Ostrowski, Director of Community Development for the City of Stevens Point.
“This project will be an investment in the revitalization of the downtown Stevens Point area, and will ensure that Mid-State Technical College will have the resources to provide continued educational opportunities for community residents.”
The Brownfield Site Assessment Grant (SAG) Program is state program for WEDC to grant funds to local governments to perform environmental investigations, demolition of structures, removal of abandoned containers and underground tank systems.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), formed in 2011 as a public-private entity to foster economic development efforts for the state and business climate.
October 15, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “Grant plan aimed at helping businesses expand” — A new grant program has been proposed for La Crosse County that would help local small businesses develop new product lines, markets and other ways to grow.
If approved by the county board Thursday, the program could begin awarding grants in early 2013, said Brian Fukuda, community development specialist for the county.
Businesses would work with a nonprofit partner to determine their research and development needs, and then be matched with consultants that can guide them toward reaching those goals, said Patti Balacek, Western Technical College’s director of Business and Industry Services and Lifelong Learning.
“I tell everyone that my greatest skill is I know how to find the people who are the experts,” Balacek said.
That assistance could allow companies to expand their customer base domestically and abroad, create new products and lines and find additional ways to market what they have to offer.
The result should be more jobs and economic development in the county, Balacek said. “Growing the businesses we have,” she said, “is a way we can do it without always having to pursue the next big thing.”
The program will be limited to companies with no more than 250 employees — those perhaps poised to grow but less likely to have the staff and resources for research and development.
The county would fund up to 50 percent of the total project costs, with grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. The business and its nonprofit partner each must kick in 25 percent, though that match can be in-kind work rather than money, Fukuda said.
The initial grant funding would come from a $10,000 carryover from 2012 and an additional $20,000 in the proposed 2013 budget, Fukuda said. Participating companies would be encouraged to contribute some of the profits from their expanded business to boost the funding pool, he said.
The county’s Economic Development Fund Board would oversee the program, review applicants and award the grants.
Nonprofit partners expected to participate include, but are not limited to, Viterbo University, Western, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the La Crosse Area Development Corporation.
Balacek suggested the idea at an economic forum hosted by two area state legislators in fall 2011, noting the state’s similar Workforce Advancement Training Grant program with the Wisconsin Technical College System can’t be used for research.
State Rep. Steve Doyle introduced a bill to establish the program at the state level, but it was not acted on before the legislative session ended, though it received unanimous and bipartisan support in committee, he said.
While this pilot program would be restricted to La Crosse County for now, it could gain state backing if it proves successful locally, supporters said.
Doyle also hopes to re-introduce his bill in the next legislative session.
So far, the plan has drawn nothing but praise, he and Balacek said.
“This is just another tool,” Balacek said, “to try to help businesses that we know are primed and ready but just need a little help.”
October 15, 2012
From wisnews.com: “MATC offers more free automation classes” – A $3.3 million federal grant that has allowed MATC to teach free automated manufacturing classes to local industrial workers for nearly three years has been extended for another year.
“We had money to spend, and we weren’t done with everything we wanted to do,” said Schauna Rasmussen, the EDA grant’s manager for MATC.
Two more classes will be offered this fall, and the college plans to turn its new array of courses into an associate’s degree program to begin in fall 2013.
The grant was part of a package announced nearly three years ago by the Economic Development Administration. Other money went to Portage and the Columbia County Economic Development Corp. to build the 32,000-square-foot Portage Enterprise Center on Kutzke Road, where robotics classes now are taught; to Reedsburg for industrial park expansion; and to Waterloo to renovate a training building.
Rasmussen said employees of 25 companies have participated in the manufacturing class program. The companies include Cardinal Glass, Alsum Farms & Produce Inc. and Appleton’s Encapsys unit in Portage. So far, the college has recorded 363 completions out of 397 registrations in eight advanced manufacturing courses and seven hybrid automotive courses. Many students signed up for more than one class, so the number of completions is higher than the number of individuals using the program.
Rasmussen said the college is collecting information to gauge the program’s success.
“We want to follow up with students and find out from them have they received jobs? Have they received promotions?” she said.
Even without EDA money, she said, MATC will take ownership of the classes and make them part of an associate’s degree in automotive manufacturing systems technology.
“The goal is not for these classes to go away once the grant is done,” she said.
Students can sign up for two free intermediate-level classes now:
• Robotics for Industrial Automation, level 2. The class covered intermediate tasks for setting up and programming robotic machinery. 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays from Oct. 25 to Dec. 20.
• PLC for Industrial Automation, level 2. The class uses Allen-Bradley/Rockwell Automation PLCs and other equipment. 1:30 to 5:45 p.m. Thursdays from Oct. 25 to Dec. 20.
The Portage Enterprise Center is located at 1800 Kutzke Road. Room 125 will be used for both classes.
September 24, 2012
From jsonline.com: “State can be a model for creating skilled workers” — By Tom Still –An expert in invention and entrepreneurship who has forgotten more about both than most people know recently used this line in a room of economic development professionals: “Increasingly, there is no room in America for the unskilled.”
Before the politically correct among us rise up in solidarity for the right to remain unskilled, let’s do something refreshingly honest and concede he’s right.
The current job market certainly suggests so, given the stubborn national unemployment rate three years after the official end of the recession. And so have credible studies on the future of the American workforce, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast and state-specific reports from the Georgetown University Center on the Economy and the Workforce.
Between 2008 and 2018, Georgetown researchers predicted, the need for workers with some kind of postsecondary training or education will grow by 139,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Jobs for high-school graduates and dropouts will grow by 52,000 jobs. By 2018, 61% of all jobs in Wisconsin will require some postsecondary training.
Meeting the need for skilled workers – from people with the right training for today’s high-tech manufacturing to people with advanced college degrees – has been addressed by three recent reports in Wisconsin. That kind of consensus around the size of the problem should mean solutions are achievable, even in a divided political era.
Unveiled a month ago was “The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin’s Workforce Development.” Otherwise known as the Sullivan report, it was a volunteer effort headed by Tim Sullivan, the former Bucyrus International executive who was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in February to take a hard look at state workforce gaps.
The report stressed that demographics alone are threatening the state’s long-term economic health. The number of senior citizens living in the state will nearly double between 2010 and 2040 (from 777,000 to 1.54 million), the report said, and its working-age population will grow by a miserly 0.4% (from 3.57 million to 3.58 million).
“Baby boomers are also aging out of the workforce, leaving gaps that cannot be met by our current projected population, or the education system in which they develop working skills,” it read.
The Sullivan report’s conclusions ranged from finding ways to encourage immigration of high-skilled, hard-to-find workers to better coordination of state workforce programs to establishing academic and career plans for all students.
Another recent report stressed the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education. “Wisconsin STEM: Navigators to the future” was produced by a group led by Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College. Gateway has a successful history of meeting employer needs for skilled labor.
That report noted that so-called STEM occupations are predicted to grow by 17% from 2008 to 2018 and that STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26% more than their non-STEM counterparts. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs in the United States was three times the rate of non-STEM jobs. Workers with STEM skills are also more likely to keep a job, contribute to a local economy and drive innovation, the report noted.
“STEM education is an imperative to secure our state’s viability in a competitive global economy,” said S. Mark Tyler, president of OEM Fabricators and a contributor to the report.
It established five markers to chart success: Eliminate barriers that prevent learners from exploring STEM careers; emphasize acquiring STEM knowledge and skills for all learners; increase public-private partnerships with a focus on STEM skills; establish a statewide awareness campaign for STEM careers; and invest in development for educators so they can better integrate STEM throughout the curriculum.
Also weighing in is the Department of Public Instruction, which recently issued its Agenda 2017 report. Among its recommendations are increasing Wisconsin’s graduation rate, doubling college and career readiness rates, and increasing the percentage of students scoring proficient in third-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics.
One specific DPI recommendation: Expand high-school programs for “dual enrollment.” Those are programs that allow high school students to earn college credits and specific career skills through industry certifications and youth apprenticeships.
Indeed, there is precious little room in America for the unskilled. With the help of those who are committed to understanding the problem, perhaps Wisconsin can become a model for giving the unskilled hope and pathways to more rewarding, productive lives.
September 18, 2012
From superiortelegram.com: “State allocates tax credits for Kestrel development” – Gov. Scott Walker announced Tuesday that Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and Wisconsin Community Development Legacy Fund have completed a $30 million allocation of federal New Markets Tax Credits to the Kestrel Aircraft Co.
Established in 2010, Kestrel moved its design operations from Duluth to Superior; plans include constructing two facilities in Superior to manufacture its single-engine turboprop aircraft for production. A composites plant will be constructed in the Winter Street Industrial Park, and the assembly plant is slated for construction next year on the northeastern corner of the fairgrounds on Tower Avenue, near the Bong Airport.
“Attracting this visionary entrepreneur to relocate with the potential to create 600 new jobs is incredible news for the city of Superior and the entire state of Wisconsin,” Walker said in a prepared statement. “In putting together an aggressive package, Wisconsin has decisively demonstrated its commitment to job creation and boosting our state economy.”
WHEDA’s New Markets Tax Credit program promotes economic development in low-income communities. WHEDA is a part of the nonprofit WCDLF that is responsible for allocating federal New Market Tax Credits in Wisconsin. Kestrel qualifies for the credits as an eligible business seeking to make an investment in a federally designated qualified low-income area.
“I am thrilled that WHEDA is able to utilize its economic development and job creation tools to help Kestrel revolutionize aviation right here in Wisconsin,” said WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston. “Kestrel recognizes Wisconsin’s know-how and talent and WHEDA is committed to helping Kestrel develop the next generation of commercial aircraft in our great state.”
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has created an Enterprise Zone in Superior to provide $18 million in tax credits, and has provided a $2 million loan to the company.
“This is a significant step and valuable economic development tool in supporting Kestrel Aircraft’s move to establish its manufacturing and headquarters in Superior,” said Paul Jadin, chief executive officer of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The city of Superior has provided a $2.4 million loan in addition to providing two parcels of land for development, and $1.125 million in tax incremental financing (TIF).
“The decision of Kestrel Aircraft to locate in Superior is a high level addition to our corporate base, which will benefit the entire region and the State of Wisconsin,” said Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen. “We thank all of the private/public partnerships that reached out on all levels and depth to solidify and welcome Kestrel as our newest corporate citizen. The economic ripple effect will be very promising in growing the community, along with the introduction of complementary businesses and industries. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Kestrel President Alan Klapmeier and the Kestrel team.”
Douglas County has provided $800,000 in loans.
“Douglas County is pleased that one of the final steps in the financing of Kestrel Aircraft has been approved,” said Douglas County Board Chairman Douglas Finn. “This has been an exciting project for all of the residents of the area with the potential for several hundred jobs along with spin-off opportunities. We would not be at this point without a great partnership between Kestrel Aircraft, the state of Wisconsin, the city of Superior, Douglas County and all the other agencies involved along with the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
“These are exciting times for our community and this is just one of many great opportunities if we continue to work together.”
August 14, 2012
From wqow.com — “CVTC receives training grants” -- EAU CLAIRE — More than a quarter-million dollars in grants will help area businesses invest in their employees.
Chippewa Valley Technical College was recently awarded more than $270,000 in state grants. The money will be used to train and develop current employees’ skills in the area of manufacturing. The grants will help off-set regular training costs by 65 percent.
“If we can provide a workforce that is better than other locations in the country or internationally, that’s a reason to stay here. And so that’s one of the reasons that you want to invest in your workforce so you can sustain the businesses that you have,” says Tim Shepardson, Chippewa Falls CVTC campus manager.
The grants can be used in a number of area’s including industrial maintenance and welding.
From fdlreporter.com: “Community leaders meet to discusswork force development initiatives” – Can the Fond du Lac region successfully meet the challenges of future workforce development?
More than 50 community, business and education leaders examined this question at a special workforce development breakfast briefing held at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac on July 12.
The briefing was co-hosted by Moraine Park Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac in collaboration with Competitive Wisconsin, Inc. (CWI). Participants learned about a statewide research study that is underway and heard from community leaders about preparing the Fond du Lac region, according to an event press release. Similar briefing sessions will be held around the state.
Programs already in motion to address future workforce needs include initiatives like the Fond du Lac School District’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) charter school, Moraine Park’s School to Work program and UW-Fond du Lac’s collaboration with UW-Oshkosh, UW-Green Bay and Moraine Park, which will deliver a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology.
Steve Jenkins, president of Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corp., said that communities and regions that develop a globally competitive workforce, especially as manufacturing rebounds and re-establishes its presence, will be the economic winners.
“Talented people of all ages with globally competitive skills will be the cornerstone of prosperity moving forward,” he said.
He added that manufacturing in Fond du Lac County and in the region is critical to the economic base.
Several presenters concurred and said the definition of manufacturing needs to change and the awareness of opportunities needs to increase. A manufacturing workforce can include a wide range of career choices including positions requiring specialized training or technical skills, positions requiring an engineering degree or positions requiring a Ph.D. in fields like metallurgy, chemistry or mathematics.
The old methods of developing the workforce in both the public and the private sector must evolve quickly including the breaking down of silos, said Jenkins.
“It’s important to understand that it is everyone’s responsibility,” he said.
The good news for the Fond du Lac area in terms of the future is that educators, business leaders and government leaders “get it,” said Joe Reitemeier, president of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce. “They understand the environment we are in and are more than willing to roll up their sleeves and start to develop new initiatives, new ideas and collaborative efforts that will get us to a very strong, meaningful economy once again.”
The Lumina Foundation said that between now and 2018 Wisconsin will have about 925,000 vacancies due to retirements, job creation and other factors. Of these, 558,000 will require post-secondary education. In Fond du Lac, educators on the panel said they meet regularly to talk about issues where they can work together to improve the ability of students to make choices.
“As partners in post-secondary education, we must be sure that students have choices, that they understand what different paths they can take and that they understand there is no one way to the future,” said John Short, UW-Fond du Lac dean and chief executive officer. “In the future as I see it, we will have students taking classes here, going over to Moraine Park Technical College, taking a course at Marian University and they will be involved in the community through service learning.”
Short added that students will change jobs many times in their lifetime.
“They need skills, they need a future orientation, they need a sense of problem solving, they need a sense of communication,” he said.
At the K-12 level, Jim Sebert, superintendent of the Fond du Lac School District, pointed to ongoing work with the Association of Commerce in the School to Work program and creation of a manufacturing task force as part of its efforts to produce the types of students needed for careers and jobs in the community.
“We are the keepers of the workforce of the future,” said Sebert. “We take that very seriously and we’re continuously trying to evolve and improve ourselves.”
Presenters said short-term, long-term and continuous education and training will be needed to keep pace with work place demands.
In addition to long-term goals for workforce development, Jim Eden, vice president of academic affairs at Moraine Park, said he hears from businesses with short-term needs.
“The businesses have orders to fill and need employees to run the machines to fill those orders to either stay in business or grow their business,” Eden said.
Moraine Park works with employers to advance skills or provide basic skill training to a current workforce, or to provide a different skill set needed by a current employee.
According to Jim Wood, president of Wood Communications Group and strategic counsel for Competitive Wisconsin, educators need to stop thinking about students in terms of two or four years at the higher education level.
“We’re talking now about a 30 to 40 to 50 year ‘customer’ who is going to come in and out of that system, primarily from their work place, because the skill set demands are changing. How we supply and meet these needs is going to be a very, very different process,” Wood said.
At the state level, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said officials are looking at short term and tactical initiatives with a sense of urgency.
“This is probably the number one challenge, the number one issue that we are going to be confronting as a state, as well as nationally,” said Newson. “How do we get our work force trained and developed?”
To address current and future needs, an online job center through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development was created where job seekers can post resumes and employers can post openings. Newson says there are approximately 40,000 openings listed on the site.
As a follow up to these briefing sessions, economic summits on job and workforce development will be planned for various locations around the state beginning in September.
From madison.com: “Economic development study group to provide update Thursday” – Business, labor, community and academic leaders will get a briefing Thursday in Madison about a study in progress that will look at how well prepared Wisconsin is to meet the needs of businesses for skilled employees in coming years.
“The study is concentrating very heavily on the question of supply and demand, looking at major industry clusters, like agriculture and food production, manufacturing, etc., but is also looking very hard at the concept of skill clusters. Not just what kinds of skills are needed, but what capacity do we have to make sure those skill sets are transferable from one sector to another?” said Jim Wood, president of Wood Communications Group, Madison, and strategic counsel to Competitive Wisconsin.
Wood said the study is expected to be presented by about Labor Day. It will be the subject of three summits to be held this fall.
He said the effort stems from the 2010 “Be Bold Wisconsin” study that examined the state’s competitive position and urged a new economic development strategy.
“Workforce development is no longer a spectator sport. Everybody from parents to kids to teachers needs to be paying very close attention to this,” Wood said.
The briefing will be hosted by Madison Area Technical College, UW-Madison, UW Colleges, UW-Extension and Competitive Wisconsin. It will start at 9 a.m. at the Madison College West Campus, 302 S. Gammon Road. It’s one of about a dozen such meetings being held around the state.
The $300,000 study is being funded by grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Bradley Foundation, and corporate donations.
July 12, 2012
Many are questioning the value of a four-year college degree that will saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars of debt before they even earn their first paycheck.
Meanwhile, ManpowerGroup’s seventh-annual Talent Shortage Survey indicated that 49 percent of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions within their organizations.
Something’s got to give.
For many students, a one- or two-year technical college degree is a safer bet for gainful employment.
Despite Wisconsin’s current economic challenges, a new survey of 2011 Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) graduates revealed 88 percent of graduates were employed within six months of graduation and most of them (71 percent) were employed directly in their field of study.
According to the system’s annual Graduate Follow-up Report, 86 percent of respondents indicate they are working in Wisconsin. The WTCS includes 16 technical college districts throughout Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).
“This is a bright spot in Wisconsin’s economy,” said Dan Clancy, president of the WTCS. “Our graduates are employed within Wisconsin’s borders and are contributing to the economic recovery in our state. The results show that the curriculum aligns with industry skill needs and that employers value our graduates’ abilities.”
The technical colleges attribute their success in large part to advisory committees established in each program area. The committees are comprised of local business and industry representatives in their respective fields. They advise the colleges on various matters based on first-hand knowledge of supply and demand in addition to skills desired for today’s job market.
The median salary for all new tech graduates is $31,822, with those earning associate degrees receiving a median salary of $36,033.
The fields with the highest median starting salaries are utilities engineering technology, technical studies-journey worker, fire science, biomedical electronics, automated manufacturing systems technician and applied instrumentation and process control automation. Several program areas have median starting salaries of $60,000 or higher.
Nancy Merrill, policy advisor and federal relations officer for the WTCS, noted some of the hottest degree programs, as documented in the new report:
* 85 percent of IT-programmer/analyst graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $40,000.
* 100 percent of the logistics graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $49,000.
* 93 percent of dental hygienist graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $50,488.
* 96 percent of associate degree nursing graduates who responded were employed and reported a median salary of $47,836.
Among less-than-one-year and one-year technical program graduates, 89 percent of practical nursing graduates who responded indicated they were employed, with a median annual salary of $33,745 while 76 percent of air conditioning, refrigeration and heating graduates were employed with a median salary of $32,238.
“In total, as noted in the graduate follow-up report, 45 programs had graduates who reported median annual salaries of $40,000 or more approximately six months after graduation,” Merrill said. “In short, the graduate follow-up study proves that the WTCS works for both Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin students.”
From wausaudailyherald.com: Opinion: “NTC enrollment boost a good sign for central Wisconsin” – College enrollment is up nationwide, but the increase at Wausau’s Northcentral Technical College is especially striking. The number of students enrolled in one-year or two-year programs at NTC nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011, going from 3,149 students to 6,070.
That’s a stunning number. And it likely speaks to the long-term economic health of our region.
Many factors are driving enrollment increases. Without a doubt one of these is the tough economy over the past several years, which has led displaced workers to seek more schooling and has discouraged others from trying to strike out into the job market.
But there’s more to it than that. People recognize that the economy is changing and that increasingly it’s necessary not only to extend your education beyond the high-school level but also to be prepared for lifelong learning and training.
At the same time, it’s our observation that respect for technical education programs seems to be on the rise. It’s nothing against traditional liberal education, which remains extremely valuable, to say that for many people, education in a trade or technical school program is a better fit and one that offers them strong, lifelong employment opportunities. That’s true of nursing programs, various manufacturing programs and many more.
This is a positive development, and we’re glad people see technical school as a legitimate higher-education opportunity.
Still, these trends alone would not explain the absolutely dramatic growth at the Wausau-based technical college if it weren’t for one other major factor: dynamic leadership from NTC President Lori Weyers.
The school has actively gone to employers to find out what skills they need from workers and what programs would make students a good fit for the jobs they have available. It has actively made room for alternative schedules and has set up programs across the sprawling area of its coverage.
Students benefit from that type of flexibility. They also benefit from program offerings tailored to real-world skills they’ll need in the workplace.
There is no realistic way for the economy to grow in the long term without a strong base of education. In this light, the increase in enrollment in local higher-ed programs is a very good thing.
May 21, 2012
From gazettextra.com:”Black hawk Tech sees role in expanding economy” – The local economy will rebound, expand and prosper.
To make that happen, it will need a place where workers can improve their skills for 21st century needs.
That’s the feeling at the top echelons of Blackhawk Technical College, which has a new master plan that calls for greatly expanding the school.
“We have faith in the economic growth of this region,” BTC President Tom Eckert said in a recent interview.
Blackhawk Technical College’s last expansion ended seven years ago with the completion of $17.5 million in referendum projects at the main campus in central Rock County and in Monroe.
Since then, BTC has added its Beloit Center at the Eclipse Center, recently increasing its classroom space there.
But needs have grown and are expected to continue to do so, Eckert said.
“We envision getting bigger and serving more people,” he said.
The referendum project left room for about 3,000 full- and part-time students, Eckert said. But that was before General Motors and related employers closed their doors and the national economy took a nosedive.
Enrollment increased 54 percent as workers tried to reinvent themselves, Eckert said, and even though the economy seems to be strengthening, enrollments have dropped only slightly.
Computers, health sciences, even the culinary department are crowded, Eckert said. The Monroe campus is at capacity. Prospective students are being told there’s no more room.
“When you have no place to put anybody, you have to address it,” Eckert said.
BTC officials and Strang Inc. of Madison have been working on the master plan for about two years.
Strang’s research included an assessment of buildings and grounds, collection of data on how and when rooms are used, interviews with staff and students and alignment of the plan to the college’s strategic goals, said Renea Ranguette, BTC’s vice president for finance and operations.
Strang, which was paid was paid $123,410 for the work, also wrote a five-year maintenance plan that covers projects such as replacement of roofs, parking lots, windows and various parts of the heating/cooling system.
One of the recurring themes Strang heard from staff in all divisions was a lack of general-purpose classrooms, Ranguette said.
Classroom space is at a premium, even though classes are scheduled in the evenings and on weekends.
Other areas for expansion the study identified by talking to staff and students:
– More large, tiered lecture halls, especially for general-education classes.
– More spaces for staff and students to collaborate. The ability to work in teams is said to be a key skill employers want.
– More conference/meeting rooms for the college’s frequent guests.
– More dual-purpose rooms—for example, a room with traditional seating along with computer stations.
– More lab space for health services classes with an increasing emphasis on simulating what goes on in hospitals and clinics. Health professions continue to be one of the highest-demand areas at BTC.
– More interactive training spaces for police and firefighter training.
– The library is small but used intensively. More wireless Internet access and small rooms for study groups are needed, Ranguette said.
– More space for the information technology division.
– Students are more active at BTC than at a typical commuter, two-year campus, so more student-activities space is desired.
– Student services wants a tutoring/testing center.
The five-phase plan is a big-picture look at future needs. It does not include details such as floor plans or costs, Eckert said. Rather, it sets a tone and direction.
Here’s breakdown of the plan:
Description: Build an advanced manufacturing center by remodeling 130,000 square feet in the Beloit Ironworks building, now owned by Hendricks Commercial Properties, in downtown Beloit. Move classes there from the main campus, freeing up 30,000 square feet to remodel at the central-campus building. Demolish two pole buildings—18,000 square feet—attached to the rear of the central-campus building.
Timeframe: Advanced manufacturing center work could begin before the end of this year or sometime in 2013, officials said. Students would begin taking classes there in late 2013 or sometime in 2014.
Description: Build a 56,000-square-foot health sciences building facing what is now the main entrance on the central campus. The multi-story building also would house a library. The building would simulate a hospital to make learning as realistic as possible. Once the building is complete, classes would move in, freeing up 36,000 square feet in the main building for remodeling.
Timeframe: About five years from now, although projections are uncertain this far into the future. This phase likely would require borrowing through a referendum-authorized bond issue.
Description: A 32,000-square-foot addition on the west side of the central-campus main building and a 4,000-square-foot addition to the administrative center. At about the same time, the Monroe campus would be expanded, with the oldest part of the building to be demolished, leaving 15,000 square feet built in 2005, and 54,000 square feet would be added.
Monroe would have new space for health sciences and advanced manufacturing.
Timeframe: About 10 years out.
Description: Two 70,000-square-foot buildings, built to the west and downhill from the current main campus, with no purpose specified at this time. An outdoor amphitheater between the two buildings would be dedicated to student activities. These and the buildings in Phase 5 would ensure capacity for expansion. Parking would be added along with the buildings.
Timeframe: About 20 years.
Description: Two 70,000-square-foot buildings built farther to the west.
Timeline: 50 to 70 years.
The plan assumes no more expansions at BTC’s Center for Transportation Studies on Janesville’s north side, the BTC Center at Beloit’s Eclipse Center, which recently was doubled in size, or at the aviation center at the airport.
The aviation mechanics program recently was suspended as a cost-saving measure.
The plan also assumes that a new advanced manufacturing center would be built in Beloit and that the noncredit training and customized courses that BTC sets up for local businesses would move from the central campus to a building close to some of its customers, perhaps in an industrial park.
Manufacturing center would be based in Beloit
Blackhawk Technical College plans to build one of the country’s best training facilities for manufacturing workers.
The advanced manufacturing center, as it is being called, would be in the old Beloit Corp. building now known as the Ironworks along the Rock River in downtown Beloit. Construction could start as early as later this year.
The plan is based on the belief that manufacturing will continue to be a big part of this area’s economy but that workers will need to be more highly skilled.
The ability to deliver a skilled workforce to local companies will be crucial, BTC President Tom Eckert said.
Renovations to make the 130,000-square-foot Beloit facility a reality could cost upwards of $10 million, Eckert guessed, but don’t expect Blackhawk to ask taxpayers to finance the work through a referendum.
Eckert has been discussing a public-private partnership to get the job done, which means large, private donations and grants.
Eckert said he is working with the Ironworks owner, Hendricks Development, to get an affordable lease.
Eckert said he planned to meet with Hendricks officials at the end of this month to work on fundraising.
The advanced manufacturing center would be state of the art and feature large windows into the hands-on classrooms to combat the perception that manufacturing is a mindless, dirty job, Eckert said.
The center would allow BTC to double the capacity of its welding program, Eckert said. Welders are expected to be in high demand for some time. Fabrication welding courses would be added to the curriculum.
The center also would house programs in precision machining; heating, air conditioning and ventilation; electro-mechanical/robotics; and industrial maintenance.
The facility would be built like a wheel, with various skill areas being taught in the spokes. The hub would contain a laboratory where students from the various disciplines would join to build manufacturing processes from the ground up.
The lab also could be used to develop small-scale manufacturing prototypes for local companies looking to produce new products.
From wrn.com: “Uptick in starting salary of tech college grads” – A new report shows new technical college graduates are making more money than their counterparts the prior year. The Wisconsin Technical College System’s annual follow up survey shows median salary for all graduates starting their careers is $31,822 ($31,198 the year prior) with those earning associate degrees receiving a median salary of $36,033 ($35,616 for 2010 grads).
System President Dan Clancy says their research also shows 88 percent are working within six months of graduation. Most of them–71 percent–work directly in their field of study. Clancy says these figures are about the same as last year, a positive sign given a down economy.
Clancy credits advisory committees, made up from people in the industry, that help guide students while in their programs.
April 30, 2012
From journaltimes.com: “Gateway president serves on 50 boards” – Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht has joined his 50th board.
“I’m supposed to start saying no now,” Albrecht said, laughing.
Gateway announced last week that Albrecht had been appointed chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Sustainability Education and Economic Development Task Force. The position, to advance sustainability and environmental curriculum, brings the number of regional, state and national boards Albrecht serves on to 50.
He acknowledged it’s a lot but said they’re all related to Gateway, which means the college isn’t hurt by his attention getting pulled in so many different directions.
“Gateway Technical College does not suffer. I would hope people would see just the opposite,” Albrecht said, explaining he’s always connected to Gateway in person, by iPhone or via iPad. “My role is to be that liaison between our college and our community.”
Because of the myriad boards that boast Albrecht as a member, Gateway has state and national ties, and the college has increased opportunities for grants. Plus Albrecht can bring good ideas back to Gateway and can tailor Gateway’s offerings to meet community needs, he said.
“Everything has a correlation along the way, whether it’s working with early, elementary, middle, high school or adult learners,” he said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Board allows Albrecht to support youth who are future Gateway students or whose parents may attend the college. The National Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Board helps Albrecht connect Gateway to new industry advances. Workforce development boards let Albrecht and Gateway help dislocated workers.
And that’s just to name a few.
With all these boards, Albrecht said he doesn’t just lend his name; he actually participates.
“He’s one of my most active board members,” said Wally Graffen, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He is not afraid to think outside the box.”
For example, Graffen said, Albrecht helped bring culinary arts, GED classes and dental screenings to a newer Boys & Girls Club location at 1330 52nd St. in Kenosha.
When Albrecht can’t attend a meeting in person — which is bound to happen when you serve on 50 boards — he’ll conference call in or send a Gateway representative in his place. He’ll also read the minutes and offer some comments, he said.
Between his board and college duties, Albrecht said he works 15 to 17 hours a day. When asked how much sleep he gets, Albrecht laughed before replying, “Not enough.”
“There could be an event I would go to every night of the week,” he said, adding he usually has three to five board meetings a week.
His schedule last week showed he had 13 board-related events Monday to Saturday, from meetings to forums and recognitions.
But it’s all by choice and all of the boards are volunteer, Albrecht said.
“I don’t want the article to feel like I’m feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “I choose to lead our college by community engagement.”
April 26, 2012
From host.madison.com: “Goals for regional economic growth outlined” – About 300 elected officials, company heads and community leaders from south central Wisconsin were told Wednesday it’s time to stop resting on their laurels, get past any rural-urban conflicts of the past and work as a team if they want to spark the area’s economy in the coming years.
Advance Now, the eight-month project to create a plan to spur economic growth for the eight-county Madison region, presented its recommendations and promised a series of goals that include:
• Increasing the number of businesses by 5.2 percent in the next five years.
• Compiling a list of “shovel-ready” sites for development.
• Matching local company needs with training and education programs.
• Increasing access to capital and developing a regional system to bring innovations to market.
• Closing racial and geographic achievement gaps.
• Increasing the number of minorities in leadership positions.
• Creating a regional brand identity and a national public relations campaign.
In a presentation at the Sheraton Madison Hotel, Mac Holladay, chief executive of Market Street Services, exhorted local leaders to set aside any bickering of the past.
“This is not a partisan politics game,” Holladay said sharply, drawing applause. “It is time for you all to stop yelling at each other and start talking to each other … (or) this place is going to fail.
“The silos need to come down. The boundaries don’t matter.”
Holladay’s Atlanta consultant firm has been working on Advance Now with Thrive, the economic development partnership for Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties.
Holladay reiterated statistics compiled for Advance Now showing while poverty in the region is low, it is growing faster than in peer regions of Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; and Lincoln, Neb. In addition, per capita income is below the national average.
“You cannot take your past success for granted, because it is slipping away from you already,” he said.
A 119-page report details hundreds of specifics, which also include piloting a network of life sciences entrepreneurs and considering establishing an arts incubator.
Holladay said it’s “going to take a lot of money” to have adequate staff and resources to handle this type of effort. At a reception after the presentation, Holladay estimated costs of $1.5 million to $2 million per year for the next five years.
A strategy of this size generally involves 10 to 20 staff members, said Thrive communications manager Betsy Lundgren. Thrive currently has six full-time employees and two part-time interns.
Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, said the effort may involve hiring someone to boost opportunities for minorities to create “a true region, not one based on fiction but one based in reality.”
The next phase of Advance Now will be to put the recommendations into effect, starting in 2013.
“We’ll proceed with implementing it and tracking it as we go,” Lundgren said.
April 18, 2012
From marketwatch.com: “WMEP’s Manufacturing Matters! Conference Focuses on Hot Topics for Manufacturers” – Break-Out Sessions Feature Workforce Development and Innovation.
Take-away strategies to attract and retain skilled and motivated workers, create a culture that embraces innovation, and drive growth through e-business and continuous improvement are the key topics of focus at the May 9, 2012 Manufacturing Matters! Conference in Milwaukee.
The annual conference hosted by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) is designed to provide immediate and tangible benefits to busy manufacturing executives and operations staff. “We’ve been talking to manufacturers all year to make sure that this content is relevant, timely, and worth the investment of one day away from the plant,” said Buckley Brinkman, CEO of WMEP. “We know that manufacturers are extremely busy, so we’ve targeted one-hour sessions for executives and operations staff that are highly interactive and provide information they can take back and immediately use to improve their operations.”
The day-long event will be held at the Frontier Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. For more information or to register visit http://www.manufacturingmatters.org or call 1.877.856.8588.
“We’ve gathered an incredible array of resources, along with a range of networking venues to increase the benefit to manufacturers,” said Buckley Brinkman, WMEP’s Executive Director.
– Finding talented workers is the hottest topic for manufacturers today. Morning keynote, Tim Sullivan, former president and CEO of Bucyrus International Inc. and now special consultant for business and workforce development for the state of Wisconsin, will share his insight into the skills gap from two perspectives — as a manufacturing executive and as a key leader in the State’s approach to addressing the issue.
– The challenge of managing a business through a period of rapid growth, especially in a struggling industry, is the focus on the Afternoon Keynote address. Aaron Jagdfeld, president and CEO of Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems and winner of the 2011 Manufacturer of the Year award, will share his story of managing growth, promoting innovation and the role that all manufacturers have to play in promoting the industry within their own communities.
– Featured speakers include Adam Hartung and Sarah Miller Caldicott, kicking off the new Innovation Track. The author of ‘Create Marketplace Disruption: How to stay ahead of the competition’, Hartung will distill the knowledge gained from 20 years of practical experience in driving change and profit. Caldicott, author of ‘Innovate Like Edison,’ and the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, will share her unique insights into the methods necessary to create an innovative organization based on collaborative teams.
– Prominent industry thought leaders and senior executives from award-winning Wisconsin manufacturing firms will share best practices and insights. Panelists include manufacturing leaders from Phoenix Products Company, Milwaukee; TCI (Trans Coil, Inc), Milwaukee; Plastic Components, Inc., Germantown; MetalTek, Waukesha; Didion Milling, Cambria; Quick Cable, Franksville; Molded Dimensions, Inc., Port Washington; Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp., Port Washington; Rockline Industries, Sheboygan; and Galloway Company, Neenah.
– New this year are “WEDC Idea Exchange Rooms” that will connect presenters with manufacturers in order to share ideas, information and solutions to issues related to Talent Management and Innovation. The rooms will be open all day and attendees are invited meet with presenters and their peers.
– Got a question for a state agency or a banking expert? The conference offers two new ways to get the info you need. — State Agency Listening Posts Agency personnel will be available throughout the day to answer manufacturers’ questions. Participating state departments include: the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); Transportation (DOT); Natural Resources (DNR); Safety and Professional Services (DSPS); Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); Workforce Development (DWD); and Veterans Affairs (DVA).
– Experts are available all day in the Ask an Expert area. Specialists are taking 20 minute appointments throughout the day. Appointments can be booked at http://www.manufacturingmatters.org .
– Also new this year is the Food & Feed Track, which will review the steps manufacturers can take to become compliant with safety regulations as well as how to avoid common pitfalls during safety audits.
– Multiple break-out sessions are divided into two channels this year: Executive and Operations. The Executive channel will focus on advanced talent management, workforce development, innovation, E-business solutions, and capital/finance; and the Operations channel will focus on continuous improvement, food & feed, and quality/regulatory/legal awareness. Conference sponsors include: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), First Business Bank, Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), Insight on Manufacturing, BizTimes, Logiserve,(R) Inc., Baker Tilly, Michael Best & Friedrich, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), Bentley World Packaging, UW E-Business Institute.
WMEP is a private, nonprofit organization committed to the growth and success of Wisconsin manufacturers. Since 1998, WMEP has helped to create and save more than 13,000 state manufacturing jobs, according to results documented by customers. WMEP receives financial support from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, and partners with many public and private organizations to serve Wisconsin manufacturers.
April 12, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “SBA administrator adjusts lending system” – When Karen Mills, administrator of the Small Business Administration visited Green Bay last week, her mission was twofold.
Not only did she highlight the effectiveness of SBA loan programs with a tour of DeLeers Millwork, but she also took time to meet with the SBA partners and encourage them to continue to work together to help small businesses. SCORE is one of those groups.
At the Business and Manufacturing Center at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Mills met with representatives and emphasized the different roles that each group plays in the process. In defining the role of the Small Business Development Center, she called it the SBA’s ground game.
SCORE, with 12,000 volunteers nationwide, was referred to as the bone structure.
“It’s about all of our partners becoming more connected to provide a seamless experience for small businesses,” Mills said. “The president wants us to be a virtual one-stop shop.”
In addition to SCORE volunteers, Mills leads a team of 3,000 employees whose mission is to help entrepreneurs by providing greater access to capital, counseling, federal contracting opportunities, and disaster assistance. She reported that 2011 was a banner year with small businesses receiving $30 billion in SBA-backed loans.
Mills said her mission is the three C’s: providing capital, assisting with government contracting opportunities and enhancing collaboration among partners.
In her role, she is attempting to streamline systems. The SBA is compiling a list of all of the various organizations that provide grants, loans and other business assistance on the new site, www .business.use.gov. The site has a search menu that allows small business owners to search for programs by geography.
She also is trying to make it easier to apply for programs by developing a data locker.
The locker would allow businesses to enter data once and upload information that can be automatically used in future applications.
“We are thinking differently than we did in the past. It’s about making systems better to help businesses know what programs they’re eligible for,” Mills said. “We need to be nimble and flexible.”
In addition, Mills has focused on going after fraud, waste and abuse, so funds are appropriately used. This is extremely important in order to serve the increasing number of entrepreneurs that are seeking assistance.
Among the partners, many noted that their groups set records in 2011 for the number of clients served, and this year has continued at the same brisk pace. Mills said that this shows the tremendous need for groups to work together so that everyone who needs assistance is able to get it.
Since she serves in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, she works closely with him.
Mills said that he is committed to the SBA’s mission to attract and support small businesses.
“The president’s push is for all agencies to put their programs out there. More work means more turf covered,” Mills said.
April 10, 2012
From matcmadison.com: “Global entrepreneurship event comes to Madison College” – Wisconsin’s first “Startup Weekend Madison” is coming to Madison College’s West campus on April 27-29. A joint effort of Madison College, UW-Madison, Edgewood College, Capital Entrepreneurs, and Sector67, the goal of Startup Weekend Madison is to bring together entrepreneurial minds from Southern Wisconsin to encourage collaboration on innovative projects and form new startup companies.
The weekend-long, hands-on experience affords an opportunity for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to learn if their startup ideas are viable. Nearly 500 Startup Weekends have taken place around the globe and 200 more are being planned. Developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, launch startups and compete for prizes during the 54-hour workshop. Though all entrepreneurs are welcome to participate, the experience is especially useful to entrepreneurs who are interested in receiving feedback on an idea, seek a co-founder, or wish to learn new skills.
Lorin Toepper is the Executive Director of Economic and Workforce Development-Southwest Region at Madison College and chairs the Startup Weekend Madison Committee. “Startup Weekends are risk-free environments where everyone is expected to roll up their sleeves and dive into the exhilarating world of startups,” says Toepper. “This is an intensive, fun and high-energy opportunity to create something new with a team of innovative thinkers. We’re proud to be bringing it to Wisconsin.”
Registration for the event, which covers the cost of instruction, mentorship, seven locally prepared meals, and a Startup Weekend Madison T-shirt and water bottle, is now being accepted. Participants who register by April 13 will receive an early bird discount and student discounts are also available. The cost ranges from $49-$99 for the full weekend.
Startup Weekend Madison is sponsored by Google, Earth Information Technologies, Gener8tor, and Neider and Boucher.
April 2, 2012
From gazettextra.com: “Business report seen as promising” –
JANESVILLE — Anticipation of new products, increasing market share and a relative lack of global production all are factors that could lead local businesses to capital investments of $83 million.
That’s one of the findings of a comprehensive business retention and expansion report by Rock County 5.0, a five-year public/private economic development initiative designed to reposition and revitalize Rock County’s economy.
For the better part of two years, Rock County 5.0 has been meeting with the movers and shakers of Rock County businesses in an effort to open a dialogue and form lasting relationships that foster economic development.
The Rock County 5.0 team met with more than 100 decision makers at private-sector companies that employ nearly 17,000 people.
The report, released Thursday at Blackhawk Technical College, shows that 44 percent of the companies surveyed were balanced in terms of their production capacities. Twenty-two percent had too much capacity, a factor largely attributable to the departure of the county’s automotive manufacturing industry in 2008 and 2009.
Thirty-four percent, however, were under capacity, and that presents expansion opportunities, said James Otterstein, Rock County’s economic development manager and the author of Rock County 5.0′s report.
Otterstein said 55 percent of the companies expect an increase in market share, and 85 percent have plans for new products.
“That translates into opportunities for growth and expansion locally, especially when you consider that so many of these companies are based in Rock County and make their decisions here,” Otterstein said.
More literally, the report indicates, 60 companies were planning expansions that total $83 million.
“Granted, some of these responses were gathered 18 months ago,” he said. “Some of the investments are under way, and some are not. They were planned at the time of the individual meetings.”
With 60 percent of the companies planning to expand, 40 percent didn’t share similar intentions.
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Otterstein said. “Many said they were doing just fine, holding their own.”
Others—more than half of those with no expansion plans—said they faced barriers centered on regulatory challenges, uncertain markets, taxes and other general costs of doing business.
Otterstein said Rock County 5.0 was most interested in perceived restrictions attributed to real estate and workforce issues.
“Several of the restrictions are things that we can’t do anything about,” he said. “But real estate and workforce issues are areas where we think we can have some influence.”
Several companies said they were landlocked and struggling with the cost of relocation versus the costs of acquiring and developing neighboring properties.
Many also said they struggle to recruit and retain suitable employees, a “skills gap” problem Otterstein said is not at all unique to Rock County.
“Although Rock County, as well as many other Upper Midwestern communities, can point to generations of residents that possessed fundamental production-orientated skill sets and strong work ethics, times have changed,” he said. “The combined impacts of the economy, demographics and technology have raised employment standards across the board.”
Training programs have improved, he said, but employers maintain that too many job applicants struggle to meet basic employability skills.
“Based on feedback from employers, this issue must be addressed simultaneously, otherwise the resources devoted toward developing the hard skill sets will not be leveraged efficiently or effectively,” he said.
Otterstein said since most growth comes from existing companies, ongoing, two-way communication is imperative.
Rock County 5.0., he said, will continue to meet with county employers to develop a database that should feed economic development decisions.
“I would certainly say that the respondents were welcoming, encouraging and open to a meaningful dialogue,” he said. “This is a project that will continue.”
March 27, 2012
From thenorthwestern.com: “Survey: Oshkosh good for business” – Oshkosh business executives say Oshkosh has better universities and technical colleges, fewer problems recruiting employees and a better economic outlook than their counterparts throughout Northeast Wisconsin.
In 2011, the Oshkosh Business Retention and Expansion Committee, an Oshkosh Area Economic Development Corp. subcommittee, conducted 38 one-on-one surveys with Oshkosh CEOs and business owners to determine their business outlook and to identify problems such as transportation and parking issues or training problems before they become more significant.
Northeast Wisconsin Regional Economic Partnership communities in 16 counties have conducted a total of 286 surveys since the program started in 2007.
OAEDC Economic Development Coordinator Evan Wendlandt said results from 2011 surveys indicate none of the 38 Oshkosh businesses expect to close in the next three years and 82 percent of them project sales growth in the next year. In comparison to regional results, Wendlandt said fewer Oshkosh companies reported problems with employee recruitment and retention and more expect the economy will improve in the next five years.
“We want to find out what they’re seeing now, what they fear might happen and for these interviews to be the first red flag so if any issues come up, we can resolve them right away,” Wendlandt said.
Festival Foods Manager Rick Vanderloop said his meeting with the group a few months ago helped ease some of the grocery store’s concerns about the closure of the U.S. Highway 41/State Highway 21 interchange well before construction began last week.
“We discussed how we were going to get customers to come to this side, to make it more of a destination,” Vanderloop said. “They told us about the West Side Association’s sign program and that helped us direct traffic around the road closings.”
Vanderloop called it “a good discussion.”
Melissa Kohn, director of Fox Valley Technical College’s Oshkosh campus conducted some of the interviews. She said the tenor of the interviews was positive even during the recession, when companies faced challenges at every turn.
“I’ve gone through the down time where some of these companies could have talked about doom and gloom, but there’s always been this sense of optimism about things getting better,” Kohn said. “What I often find is employers are, first, appreciative of the interest in their business and, second, reaffirmed. Employers really want to show us what they’re making, what their product is.”
Kohn said she also benefits from the process. She said she gains a better understanding of the local economy and what FVTC can do to remain responsive and helpful to manufacturers in the area.
OAEDC Executive Director Rob Kleman said the surveys also noted many companies reported financing, the state’s tax structure, public transportation and parking remain issues.
“The most important part of the program is we’re reaching out to our local businesses and wanting them to tell us the good things as well as the local issues they face, so we can help address them right away,” Kleman said. “Any issues that do come up, we incorporate into our work plans so we make sure businesses can get what they’d like.”
March 23, 2012
From superiortelegram.com: “Educators band together to support economic development” – By emphasizing workforce readiness and career placement, eight educational institutions in northwest Wisconsin are joining force to form a regional consortium, Northwest Wisconsin Educators for Regional Development or NorthWERD.
The group has been developed to respond to the needs of regional developers and students, as well as identify regional economic trends and opportunities for graduates as they choose a career path.
NorthWERD is comprised of representatives from public, private and tribal higher learning institutions and agencies, including Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College campuses, UW system schools, UW-Extension, Lac Courte Oreilles Community College, Northcentral Technical College, CESA 12 and Northland College.
NorthWERD has outlined four focus areas that will help participating institutions be more responsive to economic development needs in order to promote healthier, sustainable communities.
The consortium of educators will focus on responding to regional educational and economic development needs, assess existing research and gather additional data to pinpoint economic opportunities provide career pathways to success and offer academic advising and assessment for parents and students.
NorthWERD partners will celebrate the group’s formation in a signing event 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the Lac Courte Oreilles Community College, 13466 W. Trepania Road, Hayward.
It will include a presentation from Linda Bartelt about the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA), a similar consortium that is positively impacting the northeast region of Wisconsin.
Leaders of each of the institutions will participate in the signing ceremony.