From “Tours highlight economic value of creative cluster” — With institutions such as Discovery World and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and arts groups such as Milwaukee Film, Milwaukee’s creative industries cluster has been a rising force in the growth of the region’s economy, according to the cultural leaders of Creative Alliance Milwaukee (CAM).

“A recent trend has been that cities, regions and states have been recognizing that there’s something called the creative cluster – the creative industries cluster – and it’s different in various cities, what comprises it, but what is the same in every area is it is a true economic driver,” said Maggie Jacobus, president and executive director of CAM.

To highlight Milwaukee’s creative industries and their broader economic impact, the nonprofit membership organization has developed what it likes to call “Creative Milwaukee Experience” tours.

The tours, geared toward area industry professionals and corporate executives, were initially designed four years ago as a talent recruitment and retention tool for the city. They aim to demonstrate Milwaukee’s vibrant creative community to both new members of the region’s workforce and business leaders considering planting the headquarters of their company in or near Milwaukee.

“The perceived creative culture of Milwaukee has a tremendous impact on the region’s capacity to attract a high-quality workforce,” said Gail Towers-MacAskill, sector manager at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and a CAM board member. “The best and brightest need to have documented evidence for why Milwaukee is the priority place to ‘set the flag’ of their career aspirations. Locally-based companies need to rely on that message to attract the creative (and) design innovation staff that they seek.”

Within greater Milwaukee, the creative industries cluster represents the fourth largest sector, behind manufacturing, finance and insurance, and construction. It also employs 4.2 percent of the regional workforce through more than 4,000 enterprises, according to CAM.

The nonprofit breaks the creative sector down into five distinct categories. Design accounts for 46 percent of the sector, media and film makes up 29 percent, the performing arts claims 12 percent, visual arts and crafts accounts for 11 percent, and the remaining two percent consists of culture and heritage.

A recent Creative Milwaukee Experience tour illustrated the power behind these numbers. With participants representing organizations like the WEDC and companies like Rockwell Automation Inc. and Xorbix Technologies Inc., the tour made stops at sites deeply invested in the city’s creative economy.

At the Betty Brinn Children’s museum, tour attendees learned how creativity is harvested at a very early age – a concept that CAM refers to as “from cradle to career” – and the importance of creative education to cultivate creative thinking and problem solving.

“You don’t just pop out of the other end of the pipeline suddenly creative,” Jacobus said. “Creative thinking and creating problem solving is something that is learned, that needs to be taught and that can be taught.”

At Milwaukee Area Technical College, attendees got a chance to see how students learn computer-generated animation in the School of Media and Creative Arts.

At Milwaukee Film, participants caught a glimpse of Milwaukee’s growing film community and the opportunities the organization is providing filmmakers to hone their art and film lovers to further appreciate it.

And at Discovery World, tour members took away the need for innovation within all disciplines – from brain science to engineering to water technology – by blending technical skills with an openness to artistry.

The variety of stops on the tour and the variety of demographics each caters to reinforces CAM’s conviction that creativity touches all sectors and is an essential element of success in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.

“There’s nary a business that doesn’t use some sort of creative talent,” Jacobus said.

While a national standard regarding the parameters of the creative industries is still being laid out, Milwaukee sets its creative industries apart from those of other cities in the role they played in the city’s founding.

“Our creative economy is who we are,” Jacobus said. “It’s from whence we come.”

While outside cities’ creative industries clusters have largely emerged within the last few decades, Milwaukee’s cluster stems back to the city’s roots as brewers, cheese makers, old world craftsmen, architects and manufacturers built up the region and its economy.

“That basis of creative economy has been here for over 100 years, and so I think that’s one of the things that is unique about Milwaukee…We’re just calling it a creative economy now, but it’s always existed,” Jacobus said.

As CAM continues to lead tours of Milwaukee’s creative scene, Jacobus hopes to inspire participants to add their voice to the mix of those advocating the cultural vibrancy and economic vitality of Milwaukee’s creative industries cluster.

“It’s amazing the creative resources and opportunities that are in this region,” Jacobus said “We’re so blessed.”

From “Group hammers out plan to invigorate technology education – and Wisconsin’s economy” — A group of business and education leaders from across Wisconsin has hammered out a plan to spur educational growth in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which include concepts such as removing barriers to related career exploration and forging more public-private partnerships in this tech-driven area.

The group, Wisconsin STEM, recently released its report, “Navigators to the future,” a sweeping look at the current condition of STEM education in the state today and as well as efforts needed to overcome a drop in the number of youth choosing STEM education and careers in related areas.

Five success markers were established in the report. They are:

  • Eliminate barriers that prevent learners from exploring STEM careers
  • Increase emphasis on 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
  • Invest in pre- and post-professional developmental for educators to fully understand and integrate STEM throughout the curriculum.

The report was spurred by the critical need for highly educated and skilled workforce to invigorate Wisconsin’s economy.  Skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics drive innovation and opportunity for Wisconsin workers and employers.

“The number and diversity of organizations represented in the development of this report clearly shows that Wisconsin is ready for a statewide strategy to improve STEM education and training,” said Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College. “STEM careers provide some of our state’s best and highest paying jobs and we need to embrace the opportunity to build a STEM talent pipeline from kindergarten through college.”

More than 700 Wisconsin business and education leaders from the public and private sector worked the past six months to forge an agenda outlining the changes and practices needed to build stronger support systems for STEM education and prepare students for in STEM-related career fields.

“Employers increasingly say they are searching for soft skills as much as technical knowledge, meaning they want workers who can pull together as a team, communicate internally and externally adjust to changing conditions and function as lifelong learners,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

As outlined by the Wisconsin Technology Council, STEM talent underscores the necessity of competing in the global economy. It implies high-technology, problem-solving teaching and learning, and creates an opportunity to bring the classrooms of our state to life through business and industry partnerships.

“STEM education is an imperative to secure our state’s viability in global economy,” said Mark Tyler, president, OEM Fabricators Inc., located in the Wisconsin communities of Neillsville and Woodville.

For further media inquiries, please contact Bryan Albrecht at (262) 564-3610.

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. STEM teaching and learning is an innovative approach to unlock creativity and problem solving in learners of all ages. Through discovery, modeling and contextual learning students realize their potential and excel in active learning environments. STEM partnerships throughout the state have demonstrated the potential to unlock growth in education and workforce training by integrating the knowledge and skills of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in ways that expand college and career choices for students.

Where can I find this report?

The complete STEM Navigators to the Future report can be found at

From “Join us and Get Smarter” — A smarter Milwaukee is a better Milwaukee. And a better Milwaukee is better-positioned to grow in a global economy.

That is the premise behind the fourth annual BizTimes Get Smarter Conference, which will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. Experts in workforce development, education and executive enlightenment will convene to share their insights about how southeastern Wisconsin’s educational institutions and infrastructure, as well as the private sector, can collaborate to develop smarter employees who have the skills that employers need to grow their companies and the region’s economy. The conference also will feature a discussion about how the region’s executives can become more enlightened and effective leaders.

The conference will kick off with opening remarks by Tim Sullivan, who is serving as a special consultant for business and workforce development for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Sullivan recently submitted his long-awaited workforce development report to Walker, calling for bold actions to address the gap between the skills needed by the state’s employers and the skills of the available workforce. The report, “The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin Workforce Development,” is a comprehensive review of the background and current issues pertaining to workforce development in the state.
Sullivan will outline his bold recommendations at the Get Smarter Conference.
Sullivan’s remarks will be followed by a panel discussion of workforce development and executive enlightenment. The featured panelists will include:

* Mike Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lovell will discuss the future of collegiate education and share ideas for how employers can become engaged with the region’s universities.

* Joe Weitzer, dean of corporate and community training at the Waukesha County Technical College. Weitzer will discuss how the Wisconsin Technical College System is responding to the need for trained employees in the skilled trades.

* Peggy Troy, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Troy will discuss the burgeoning employment opportunities in the health care field as the baby boom generation ages and the need for effective professional training and executive enlightenment.

* Keith Coursin, president of Desert Aire Corp., a Germantown company specializing in production of mechanical refrigeration equipment used for control humidity. Coursin has served as chairman at the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), a trade association based in Washington, D.C. Coursin will share insights about a bold scholarship program to attract new candidates for employment in the HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) industry.

* Greg Johnson, general manager of Power Test Inc., a Sussex company specializing in the design, manufacture and implementation of dynamometers and dyno control systems. Power Test recently formed Manufacturer’s Resource Training (MRT), a startup company focused on training people for entry machinist positions in manufacturing companies. The nine-week program will provide hands-on training using the Power Test production facility and equipment for entry-level candidates for employment in manufacturing.

I will have the honor of moderating the panel discussion.

The panel discussion will then be followed by a series of breakout sessions for executives interested in learning to become more enlightened and effective leaders. The sessions will be led by highly acclaimed consultants in the BizTimes network.
So, join us and help us build a smarter Milwaukee. Register to attend at

From — “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 “More in Wisconsin earning college degrees” — Think of the 21st century as a race for brains. Smart cities win. Others get left behind.

By that measure, the city of Milwaukee is gaining ground but not fast enough, while Madison is leading the pack in Wisconsin.

In Milwaukee, only 1 out of 5 residents 25 and older has a college degree, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last week. In Madison, home to the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus, more than half the adult population has a degree.

The figures are contained in the 2010 American Community Survey, a vast statistical snapshot of modern-day American life.

In 2000, just 18.3% of Milwaukee’s 25-and-older population had a college degree. By 2010, the figure jumped slightly to 21.4%

But over the past decade, the smart got smarter as Madison’s rate of college attainment jumped from 48.2% to 54.5%.

Statewide, 26.3% of Wisconsin adults have at least a college degree, a little less than the national average of 28.2%. Massachusetts (39%) has the highest rate of college attainment, while West Virginia (17.5%) has the lowest.

A college degree, of course, doesn’t guarantee a well-paying job, or any job for that matter, as millions of people have discovered in the wake of America’s great recession.

But over time, a college education can pay off.

Hexagon Metrology received the “Futuremakers Partner Award” last night from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board. Meeting at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend, the Board recognized Hexagon Metrology as a local “Futuremaker” partner in pursuit of developing strong futures and sustainable careers.

WTCS President Dan Clancy and Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) President Gayle Hytrek presented the award to Hexagon Metrology for the company’s contributions to developing economic and educational opportunities within the region. “We are proud to recognize Hexagon Metrology for the Futuremakers Partner Award,” said Clancy. “The long partnership between MPTC and Hexagon Metrology has done so much to support the educational and training efforts of Moraine Park Technical College and the communities it serves.”

Hexagon Metrology, formerly Brown and Sharpe, is a worldwide leader in industrial metrology. Thirteen manufacturing facilities, 66 Precision Centers for service and sales, and a network of 70 distribution partners on five continents, provide the foundations for the success of Hexagon Metrology. “Hexagon Metrology and Moraine Park’s partnership has been based on a common focus – to serve the people within the Moraine Park District by providing them with the skills they need to compete in today’s marketplace,” said Hytrek. “Hexagon Metrology has provided direct support for many College initiatives, they have donated equipment and software, sponsored special training sessions for students, and served as a resource for local business leaders,” added Hytrek.

“The WTCS Futuremakers Partner award is a special honor,” said Hexagon Metrology representative Rob Jenson. “On behalf of our organization, I would like to thank Moraine Park for this award. Hexagon Metrology really appreciates all of the efforts of MPTC faculty and staff to serve our community.

February is Career and Technical Education Month

Family-supporting jobs of the future will require education and training beyond high school. The February observance of Career and Technical Education Month focuses on the importance of strong partnerships among Wisconsin’s technical colleges and high schools so students will be prepared for the emerging occupations of a modern economy.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-third of the fastest growing occupations will require an associate’s degree or a postsecondary vocational certificate. Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges have a long history of equipping graduates with the knowledge and hands-on experience needed for specific occupations. From biotechnology to electronics, health care, and public safety, Wisconsin’s technical colleges provide school-to-career connections that are the backbone of a well-educated and adaptive workforce.

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