From “Wisconsin’s economy in 2011” — Our Wisconsin economy focused heavily on jobs in 2011. Even before taking the oath of office to start the year, Scott Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs during his first four-year term.

“We’ve got to show that Wisconsin is indeed open for business,” said Walker.

Most of the jobs created throughout the year came from small businesses a few at a time. But some major companies in Northeast Wisconsin contributed to easing the unemployment line.

Oshkosh Corporation looked to add 750 jobs to help build new trucks for the military.

Ariens in Brillion witnessed business growth at the snowblower manufacturer, adding a $3.8 million addition to its plant and hiring some 300 employees to meet customer demand.

Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac held job fairs to add 150 new workers.

Many businesses rebounded from the down economy adding on to their operations.

The Green Bay Packers announced plans to expand Lambeau Field. Team officials expect that will create 1,600 construction jobs.

Schreiber Foods in downtown Green Bay purchased the shuttered downtown mall with plans to build its new headquarters with hundreds of construction jobs expected.

Fox Valley Technical College witnessing a resurgence in older laid off workers heading back to school announced plans for an $85-million expansion at the school that will lead to additional staff as well.


From “What I Do: Judy Shackelford-Alberts coordinates events at the Edgewater” — I create and coordinate events and promotions to promote The Edgewater Hotel. I’ve always worked in hotels or vacation sales at the front desk or sales office.

Prior to coming to here, I was general manager for a limited-service hotel and discovered after only eight months that I loathe the operations end of the business.

I got into hotel marketing by closing my eyes and pointing at a list of degrees offered at Madison Area Technical College while meeting with my high school counselor. I earned an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management from MATC.

My responsibilities include budgeting, negotiating, market analysis, public relations, event planning, promotion creation, advertising, marketing design and proposal writing.

I’m originally from Madison and have lived in Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The skills I use were taught to me over 30 years of working in hotels.

I once worked for a woman named Kimberly in a hotel in Minneapolis. She was the sales director and I was the senior sales manager. She was honest in her approach of expectations and suggestions on how I could do better. She set the standards I still use today, mostly to be honest and work with integrity – then your customers will stay with you for your career. She was right. People do business with people they know.

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From “City building retires” — 

After a full life of making luggage in its early years, later training workers and then providing exercise for Eau Claire’s adults and children, the time has come to retire.

At least that’s the plan for the building at 1300 First Ave.

Fond du Lac developers intend to turn Eau Claire’s former Parks and Recreation building into apartments for people 55 and older.

Most of the building will remain intact, but it will be remodeled as 21 apartments. A section of the building will be torn down and replaced with a four-story wing with another 10 apartments, but Commonwealth Development (not to be confused with Eau Claire-based Commonweal Development) told the city it plans to match the look of the rest of the brick building.

Across Oxford Street, an auxiliary parking lot the city is selling with the building is planned for six townhouses for senior citizens.

Commonwealth paid a $2,000 option to buy the property for $290,000, Eau Claire finance director Rebecca Noland stated in an email. That option expires April 30, but the company can extend it until the end of 2012 by paying an additional $4,000. That extension allows the developer to apply for income-based senior housing tax credits from the state.

Plans submitted by Commonwealth proposed closing the deal by the end of 2012. Blueprints will be done and construction completed in 2013 of the apartment buildings currently dubbed “Oxford Square.”

The project’s status for property taxes is indeterminate, but the developer has agreed to at least some form of annual payment to the city.

If it proves tax-exempt, Commonwealth agreed to still pay the city a dollar amount equal to the taxes on the $290,000 purchase price. Should it be subject to taxes, it would yield about $700 per unit.

Based on the building’s storied history, this would be the first time in about 70 years that the building will not be publically-owned.

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From “Appleton single mom says becoming self-sufficient ‘a Christmas miracle’ —  APPLETON — When Jennifer Zastrow moved to Appleton in 2005, her list of goals was daunting — get a degree, find work, pay for a home, raise her kids.

But six years later, the single mother of three has a degree in interior design from Fox Valley Technical College, two jobs, a home in Appleton and the added perk of a $15,108.97 check to pay for a new car.

“It’s like a Christmas miracle that I got this far,” she said.

Zastrow, 34, was one of two women who graduated from the Appleton Housing Authority’s Family Self Sufficiency Program last week. The program helps low-income families that are receiving Section 8 rental assistance to meet career and life goals over roughly five years, and sets up a savings account for them along the way.

Most of the participants are single moms, said Rebecca Salzman, who was the program mentor for Zastrow and May Sue Lee, the two graduates.

Zastrow joined the program in 2005 after she moved to Appleton from Shawano. During her first year in the program, she met with Salzman every month.

As time went on, they didn’t have to meet as frequently but would still have coffee dates at Harmony Cafe, said Salzman, who described Zastrow as creative and humble.

Participants make a list of their obstacles and goals and meet with Salzman regularly to go over their progress. There are 33 people enrolled in the program but “not everyone finishes what they start,” Salzman said, noting that the five-year commitment can be a challenge. The first person graduated from the program in 1997 and since then 53 people have made it through.

Zastrow said the meetings with Salzman helped keep her on stay on track and meet her goals.


From “$1.5 million land buy OK’d” — JANESVILLE — With a land acquisition out of the way, the city of Janesville will now focus on drafting an agreement that could bring a medical isotope manufacturer and 100 or so high-paying jobs to Janesville.

At a special meeting Thursday, the city council voted 5-1 to spend just more than $1.5 million to buy an 84-acre parcel on Highway 51 south of the city.

The city’s option on the land expires Dec. 31.

The council earlier this month authorized the purchase if there was a signed development agreement between the city and SHINE Medical Technologies.

If the two sides reach an agreement, it’s unlikely to happen before the end of the year. Thursday’s action allows the city to buy the land without any conditions, meaning that if a deal with SHINE falls through, the city will own the property.

A startup company now based in Middleton, SHINE plans to produce molybdenum-99, an isotope needed for detecting heart disease and staging cancer. Mo-99, as it is called, decays to produce technetium-99m, which is used in approximately 50,000 nuclear medicine procedures each day in the United States. The U.S. now depends on other countries for its supply of Mo-99.

In Rock County, SHINE could join another medical isotope maker, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which plans to build a $194 million plant in Beloit and create more than 150 jobs by 2016.

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From “Nutrient management planning classes” — Producers in Northcentral Wisconsin are invited to attend a course designed to help them develop a nutrient management plan. They’ll enter soil test information into the SNAP-Plus software and do field mapping, manure management and crop selection. It’s highly recommended participants have current soil tests (no more than four years old, sampled on the basis of one sample per five acres, with 10 cores per sample, and analyzed by a DATCP-approved lab).

The regular “compressed” course is set in three locations: Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, Jan. 10, 17 and 24 at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; NTC in Spencer, Jan. 12, 19 and 26 at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; or NTC in Medford, Jan. 13, 20 and 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the cost is $260, with participants reimbursed $200 upon completion.

A regular evening course will be held on Thursdays, between Jan. 12 and Feb. 16, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the NTC Spencer campus. The cost is the same as already noted.

A “refresher” course (for those who’ve taken nutrient management in the past four year) will be held Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at NTC in Wausau from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or Feb. 2 and 9, from noon to 3 p.m. at NTC in Spencer. This class is $130 with participants reimbursed $100 upon completion.

These courses are in partnership with UW-Extension and the conservation departments from Marathon, Clark, Taylor and Lincoln counties. For more information, contact Katie Mihlbauer at NTC, 715-803-1871 or

From “MATC commencement looks back over 100  years of history and into the school’s future” — Madison Area Technical College marks its 100th anniversary next year and continued celebrating it Thursday night during its mid-year commencement ceremony.

MATC President Bettsey Barhorst noted that construction was an inconvenience to navigate around for those attending the graduation ceremony at the Truax campus.

“But it does represent a very important time in the college’s history. Not only are we celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2012, but we’re also moving forward with important building projects,” Barhorst said.

MATC, also known as Madison College, serves about 40,000 people annually through a curriculum of technical, liberal arts and sciences and adult basic education. More than 1,800 students are graduating this session and about 200 participated in the commencement.

Frances Huntley-Cooper, the college’s district board chair, told the crowd that more than 80 percent of MATC students stay in the Madison College district and 96 percent stay in Wisconsin after they graduate, “ensuring the future of our great state.”

Stanislaw Luberda, who addressed his fellow graduates, is a returning student who had worked as a videographer for about eight years before pursuing a degree in visual communications at MATC.

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From “Tech grads ready for next phase” — Endurance. Accomplishment. Fun. Success.

Just a few words heard at the Chippewa Valley Technical College commencement ceremony held at the Meyer Middle School Monday, Dec. 19.

Greg Erickson, an Osceola native, wanted something more in life. He knew an education was going to give him that.

“Today is our victory. We’ve overcome challenges, but we have endured and completed our ‘marathon,’” said Erickson, the student speaker and honors nursing graduate.

“Our future now calls for a new kind of endurance. But we have proven to ourselves that we can do anything.”

Erickson worked construction and was actually a missionary for a number of years in Suriname, Paraguay, and Zimbabwe.

“But once I got back home again, I had to do something more with my life,” he said. “Getting my degree in a two-year program was a great advantage because I wanted to get out into the working world.”

Erickson, a father of four, also realized that he was setting a great example for his kids.

“It showed them that it takes hard work,” he said. “But it also showed that they can do the same thing.”

Erickson is now on the job hunt.

“Ideally, I’d love to find a job, perhaps helping cancer patients,” he said. “I just finished my clinicals working with chemotherapy patients, and I just loved it. We’ll see what the future holds for me!”


From “Going Where No Woman Has Gone” —  Katherine Ewaskowitz knew what she was getting herself into, and she knew it was going to be tough.

But despite the jokes, despite the snide comments, she made it through. And not only was a diploma waiting for her on the other side, so was a little bit of history.

Ewaskowitz is the believed to be the first woman to achieve a technical diploma in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s tool and die making program.

Others have started and stopped, and it’s possible that women were in the program previous to MATC’s records – particularly during World War II, when many women were enrolled in those types of programs, said Ginny Gnadt, a public relations specialist with MATC. There have also been women in the apprenticeship program.

But no instructors can recall any other females achieving the diploma and she is officially the only woman to do so according to the school’s records, Gnadt said.

It’s accomplishment that means quite a bit to Ewaskowitz and her family.

“I am really proud of myself for it,” she said.

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From “It’s never too late to take a little walk on the path to education” —  Last week I participated in WITC’s graduation ceremony. It was a short walk that took 33 years to complete while I first raised children and at least pointed them in the right direction.

Over those years, I amassed a good deal of education in bits and pieces, completing courses that applied to my work situations or otherwise interested me. Those pieces didn’t fit together for any completed degree program.

My latest venture into education was no different. I started out taking courses in graphic design to catch up on the rapidly changing technology in the field. I figured it couldn’t hurt to add in some marketing to fit my job at the time. I threw in business management for good measure and the next thing I knew, I was looking at a degree.

To say that I was concerned about being the oldest student at a college offering two-year degrees is an understatement. More accurately, I had nightmares of sticking out like a slow-learning, old grandmother among the much younger — and quicker — student body. As it turned out I found myself in an age-diverse population and not exactly the freak-show attraction I’d imagined I would be.


From “CVTC receives $1.9 million grant” —  A local tech college will receive almost $2 million in hopes they can improve their graduation rate.

Chippewa Valley Technical College received the 5-year grant from the Department of Education. The money will go toward the school’s “Steps to Success program” that helps at-risk students get the help they need to stay in school.

“Students will come into the college and they will take an in-take assessment to help us measure their college readiness,” says Margo Keys, CVTC’s Vice President of Student Services.  “If the students are at-risk, then we will develop a success plan with those students, provide them support in that there will be counselors and there will be transition specialists that will be available to help the students guide through their program.”

CVTC says the program has been in place for the past few years, but they haven’t been able to properly fund it until now.

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From “Walking out of class and into a job” — For some students graduating this week walking into the classroom two years ago was scary. Students say they’re confident especially since the college says it has a 91% job placement rate.

More than 200 students from the Chippewa Valley Technical College walked across the stage at Zorn Arena to get their diplomas and hopefully walk into a job.

“I do have something lined up and I start my new position on Tuesday,” says Nursing Graduate Heather Post.

Post graduated from CVTC with a business degree in 2003 but says after getting married and becoming a mom the job market a few years ago wasn’t looking good for her.

“In business there weren’t that many positions in the area so I decided to go back to school into something where I thought could be growing,” says Post.

“I lost my job the company moved they left Eau Claire and I was left hanging. I looked for a job for about two months and couldn’t find anything that was on a comparable pay,” says Kevin Kademan who’s graduating in Machine Tooling Technics.

Kademan says he went from working in the real world as a truck driver to heading back to school to learn how to tool machines.

“I think it’s a pretty cool feeling. I am knocking on 40’s door here and I am graduating from a higher education institute,” says Kademan.

CVTC says many of the students graduating started classes after already being in the workforce and are looking to change their careers because of the economy. It says the school has one of the highest job placements rates of all the state’s technical colleges. CVTC says 86% of graduates are in jobs related to their training compared to 71% of the Wisconsin Technical College system.

“It’s a great day, it was a lot of hard work it’s a great feeling to know we’re done and move on and use that education,” says Post.

The school says most of the graduating students, more than 60%, land jobs and stay right here in the Chippewa Valley.

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From “NWTC, MMC sign two-year contract to provide shipbuilding skills and talent” — Hundreds of current and future shipbuilders will be trained in Marinette pursuant to a contract signed Tuesday by Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Marinette Marine Corporation.

Through the two-year agreement, NWTC will provide 130,000 hours of training to MMC new hires and current workers. Focusing on electricians, shipfitters, welders, and pipefitters, the training will be provided at the NWTC Marinette campus, MMC facilities and at the new NWTC North Coast Marine Manufacturing Center, which is opening on Feb. 1 on Main Street in Marinette.

“MMC has a high demand for skilled workers, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity of teaming with NWTC and NCMMA to meet these needs,” says Marinette Marine President and CEO Chuck Goddard.

The agreement is another major step forward in training the workforce for the growing shipbuilding industry in the Wisconsin/Michigan region. Last fall, changing workforce demographics and skilled worker shortages in nearly all areas of the industry prompted the region’s major marine manufacturers to join together with NWTC and two other higher educational institutions to form an industry sector partnership, the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance.

“At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, we are committed to meeting the marine manufacturing industry’s need for skilled shipbuilding workers,” says NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn. “We are truly pleased to build on our partnership with Marinette Marine and provide additional training opportunities for its workforce.”

From “MATC instructor offers to complete park pillars as class assignment” — A masonry instructor has offered up the services of his class to construct pillars to mark the 70th Street entrance to Hart Park.

The Milwaukee Area Technical College students would provide labor and the instructor the oversight to complete a design component of the park’s master plan. However, purchasing the materials and the cost of delivering them to the park would fall to the city.

“We haven’t budgeted for materials in 2012,” Ken Walbrant, Parks and Forestry superintendent said Tuesday.

As a capital project, it should go to the city’s Engineering Department for consideration and to be priced out. If there’s interest, engineers likely would design the plans for the class to follow, Walbrant said.

The project would give masonry students an opportunity to work with limestone, Parks Board member George Haas said.

While it’s a generous service donation, it would still end up costing the city, parks officials said.

“I really think we should pursue this, but pursue it cautiously,” board member Steve Berg said.

Several of the board members weren’t serving in 2007 when the park’s master plan was created. With so many projects in the works – such as the playground – or on the horizon – the skate park, teen area and picnic pavilion, for instance – it’s time to review the plan again early next year, parks officials said.

From “Fox Valley Technical College proposed expansion gets support from speakers” — OSHKOSH — Fox Valley Technical College’s proposed $65 million to $85 million expansion plan met with near-unanimous support Wednesday night at a public meeting at the Oshkosh college’s Riverside Campus.

Officials are holding a series of hearings to gather public input before preparing a possible referendum on the April 3 ballot.

Oshkosh Fire Department Chief Tim Franz praised the proposed $34.8 million Public Safety Training Center in Appleton, which would train future firefighters, police officers and emergency medics in one location.

“Philosophically this is a great step forward,” Franz said.

Steve Farwell, general manager at Quality Truck Care Center in Oshkosh, said there is a shortage of quality diesel mechanics and the expansion would provide extra resources for training.

“I believe Fox Valley Technical College needs an expansion to meet our needs,” Farwell said.

Jon Julius of Greenville was the lone voice of dissent. He is worried about water runoff at the site where the Public Safety Training Center would be built, adjacent to the Outagamie County Regional Airport.

The seven projects in FVTC’s proposal include purchasing land next to the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Oshkosh at a cost of $1 million. Five capital projects are planned for the Appleton campus at an estimated $69.4 million, with an additional $1.3 million expansion in Chilton.


From “Former General Motors workers build new lives” — JANESVILLE — Three years after her last day at the Janesville General Motors plant, Pam Good has a better appreciation for how people survive on low wages.

“I don’t take money so much for granted anymore,” she said. “I see how others have had to struggle with the wages they make.”

Good earned more than $29 an hour at GM plus excellent health benefits. Today, she earns $11 an hour drawing blood at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center and has health insurance with fewer benefits.

“When I worked at GM, I knew I could support myself if something ever happened to my husband,” she said. “But there is no way I can support myself on this wage.”

Good’s husband is an ironworker. She has two children, ages 21 and 11.

Like so many former GM workers who did not move to take jobs in other auto-making plants, she has adjusted to a lifestyle built on lower wages.

“We do a lot of cutting back,” she said. “You can’t afford the extra stuff, even going out to dinner. We don’t go to the movies as much. We don’t have as many vacations.”

The family is spending less on Christmas as well.

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From “Energy project kicks off at NTC” —  Northcentral Technical College is installing a solar panel system and three wind turbines to generate electricity as part of a green initiative at its Agriculture Center of Excellence.

The project is meant to give students hands-on experience in environmentally friendly energy production, and will produce electricity that will run a wireless computer network on the working farm, which provides students hands-on experience working with cattle, nutrition and crops.

The equipment will help NTC keep pace with other schools across the country, said Katie Felch, director of marketing and public relations at NTC.

“Most colleges you see are working on renewable programs,” she said. “We know that energy programs are the wave of the future.”

Officials say the entire project will cost NTC $127,000, which will pay for the solar panels and the wind turbine equipment. Werner Electric Supply of Wausau, the company that’s providing the equipment and installing the system, is donating materials and time to build the wind turbine towers.

The equipment will be installed in stages. The 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system will be put in first. Those panels will produce enough energy to meet a third to half of the electricity required of a typical household daily, said Matthew Giovanelli, wind and photovoltaic sales specialist with Werner Electric.


From “MATC launches degree emphasizing business side of health care” — Milwaukee Area Technical College is launching a health care degree program to meet the growing demands of providers who have asked for employees who can simultaneously serve the clinical and the business side of the operation.

The health care services management associate degree will be a combination of business and health care classes that MATC instructors believe will make graduates more marketable in the health care field.

The idea for the degree came from a $42,000 planning grant from the Wisconsin Technical College System and a survey of area health care executives.

From “Beyond shop talk: Auto curriculum at Everest gets an overhaul” — Next year, when auto mechanics students at D.C. Everest Senior High School work on a car, they will be helping people get to work.

As part of the district’s new auto tech curriculum, students will work on cars for Wheels to Work, a nonprofit program that offers low-cost vehicles and repairs to struggling Marathon County residents.

“It’s awesome. We’re just getting (students at Everest) started, but we’re very excited,” said Becky Kopp, project coordinator for Wheels to Work.

The program accepts donated vehicles, which then are repaired to working order, if needed. Kopp said having students do the work on the vehicles saves the organization money.

“For a brake job, we’d normally pay about $100. If a school does it, we pay about $30,” Kopp said. “It’s almost free labor, and it also helps the students get experience working on vehicles for real people.”

Aaron Hoffman, career and technical education coordinator for the D.C. Everest Area School District, said the new curriculum — which will be implemented in the 2012-13 school year and includes a basic car-care course, advanced auto mechanics and auto technology — will help better prepare students for technical college.

Students who take advanced auto mechanics can get two transcripted credits at Northcentral Technical College, and students who take auto technology can get certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.


From “Community support results on No. 1 ranking” — Congratulations, Merrill! You’re No. 1 in the state for the number of students involved in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship, or YA, Program. Sixty Merrill High School juniors and seniors worked as youth apprentices last year, the highest single-school enrollment statewide. Merrill also had the second-highest district-wide enrollment behind Racine School District, which had 68 students enrolled.

So how does a small community in northern Wisconsin manage to be number one in a statewide program as broad as Youth Apprenticeship? The success is a result of outstanding collaboration between local businesses, an amazing YA coordinator, dedicated classroom teachers, motivated students, and supportive parents.

Marla Konkol is the YA coordinator at Merrill High School. “(YA) takes the classroom out of the high school and provides students with hands-on experiences in a local business. Employers (in Merrill) truly want to help students find a career they will enjoy for a lifetime.”

Youth apprentices work 450 hours at their worksite each year of their program while taking related classroom instruction. A worksite mentor helps them accomplish a list of competencies developed by the Department of Workforce Development with input from industry, so apprentices are learning and working at the same time.


From “Woods students learn fundamentals at MATC” — The Cabinetmaking and Millwork program at Madison Area Technical College (MATC) in Madison, WI, has been a  WoodLINKS USA site since 2005. Our one-year training program provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to plan and complete cabinetry, furniture and millwork projects. Students learn to work with prints, specifications and shop drawings. Emphasis is placed on selecting proper materials, determining the best procedures, manufacturing parts to specification and assembling and finishing individual projects.

In our state-of-the-art lab, students learn the fundamentals of working with wood, from planning a project to adding the finishing details. From traditional woodworking equipment and hand tools to the latest CNC machinery and software, students learn to plan and process wood in the most efficient manner. With two WCA Certified Instructors on staff, students are able to obtain Green Level Certification through the Woodwork Career Alliance.

Our program is currently pioneering a unique, online self-directed curriculum which allows students to learn at their own pace. Machine use and theory can be learned outside of class, leaving more time for students to take advantage of valuable lab time. Madison College recently approved a building and remodeling plan which will double our classroom and lab space by 2014. We receive tremendous industry support as machinery manufacturers and suppliers have contributed almost a million dollars in equipment, software and supplies over the past decade to the Cabinetmaking & Millwork program.

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From “Jackson: New head Accelerate Madison sees hot market for programming, IT grads” —  The overall economy may be struggling, but it’s a good time to be graduating with a software or information technology degree.

That’s the word from Tammy Jackson, the new executive director of Accelerate Madison – which bills itself as the “the premier networking organization that promotes and highlights the Madison digital technology community.”

Jackson replaced Jan Moen, who left in October to co-found a new company, Madcelerator, LLC. Moen ran Accelerate Madison for eight years and remains on its board of directors.

Created in 2010, Accelerate has grown to 1,000 members as the region’s high-tech community has blossomed. That number stands to increase as area companies recruit new graduates to their staffs, said Jackson, a former broadcast journalist who spent the past four years working as the public relations director for Sonic Foundry.

She said her tenure with Sonic showed her “what can happen when an IT company … gains traction, becomes successful, creates jobs in the community and changes the way that people work and learn. It really sparked my fascination in the technology industry.”
Jackson said many Accelerate members have told her Madison is a “hotbed” in the IT world.

“There are start-ups popping up all the time and they are getting funding and creating jobs in the area,” explained Jackson.

In addition, she noted, established companies that have been around for 20 years or more and are going strong and hiring, although Jackson said members have told her it’s hard to find talent.

“It you graduate and have a degree in programming or IT, there are a lot of companies that want to talk to you,” she said.

Jackson said the IT scene industry has grown and evolved in the area over the past decade.

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From “Laid Off Workers Face Pay Cuts at New Jobs” —  A wave of layoffs in our area force hundreds of people to begin a new career, and also risk taking a pay cut.

More than 1,000 employees face layoffs after the announcements last week of plants closing in Brokaw and Mosinee. Many of those workers now have to go back to school to find a new job, and that means their income could suffer.

Hundreds of Wausau Paper employees had been at their jobs for 10-20 years, and were making on average $60,000 a year with good benefits. Now, employment expert Bruce Trimble with the Workforce Development Board says even if laid off workers do find work, they could experience a pay cut of up to half of what they were used to, in addition to having to go back to school to change careers.

“There’s a person taking that class, wants to do better, and have a job coming out,” Trimble said. “They go to a full-time job, work all day, and then go to class. And that’s a lot of load and puts a lot of stress on a family.”

There is help out there, though. The Federal Mogul program through the Workforce Development Board partners with Northcentral Technical College to provide supplemental 12-week training of jobs that are growing in the state for dislocated workers.

“They should be able to come out of that program, go through our employer round tables where they get preliminary interviews with the employers in the area looking for those positions and then get right back into the workforce,” Trimble said.

Trimble says matching people with work that reflects their previous salary is their greatest challenge.

The Secretary of Workforce Development announced this week that 120,000 Wisconsinites are on unemployment, and double that number are looking for work.

Currently there are more than Wisconsin 33,000 jobs on the Job Center of Marathon County’s website.

From “More college students looking at entrepreneurship” — Fremont resident Casey Miller is confident five years from now she will have her own business.

Since she enjoys cooking, it likely will be a restaurant or bakery. But unlike many other entrepreneurs before her, she doesn’t intend to just seek a bank loan, find a place to set up shop and hope it succeeds.

Miller, 20, has been gaining real-world experience as a cook the past five years at the Hotel Fremont. In the spring, she will graduate from Fox Valley Technical College with an associate’s degree in business management with an entrepreneurial emphasis. Enrollment in the program, which currently totals 78 students, has risen 20 percent in the past three years.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to have my own business, but I know to be successful, you have to go about it the right way,” said Miller, who plans to earn another degree at FVTC in culinary arts within the next two years. “I just don’t want to jump into something.”

The nation’s colleges are responding to the growing interest among students like Miller who aspire to be entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership reports that more than 1,500 colleges and universities offer some sort of entrepreneurship training today.

There are more than 100 university-based entrepreneurship centers across the country and more than 270 endowed positions in entrepreneurship, a 120 percent increase during the past five years, the Kauffman Center said.


From “Speakers support proposed FVTC expansion” — Fox Valley Technical College’s proposed $65 to $85 million expansion plan met with near-unanimous support at a public meeting at the college’s Riverside Campus in Oshkosh Wednesday night.

Oshkosh’s fire chief, a current FVTC student, a member of the FVTC Oshkosh advisory council and three others who spoke on behalf of local employers supported the plan. About 30 people attended the meeting. Officials are using a series of area hearings to gather public input before preparing a possible referendum on the April 3 ballot.

Oshkosh Fire Department Chief Tim Franz said the proposed $34.8 million Public Safety Training Center in Appleton, which would train future firefighters, police officers and emergency medics all in one location, would have students ready for work – and trained for working together – after graduation.

“Philosophically this is a great step forward,” Franz said. “We work together as a team eventually.”

Steve Farwell, general manager at Quality Truck Care Center in Oshkosh, said there is a shortage of quality diesel mechanics in the area and the expansion would provide extra resources to train aspiring mechanics.

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