Site selectors share insights on regional economic outlook
“The world is ready to hear from Wisconsin”
The message was clear; we have a great story to tell and we need to spread the word about our successes and all we have to offer businesses looking to relocate here. That was the collective assessment of four site selection consultants addressing industry representatives and the public Thursday morning from the Legends Club Room at Lambeau Field.
Concluding their final day of the Driving Forward Site Selector FAM Tour, co-hosted by the Fox Cities Regional Partnership and the Greater Green Bay Chamber, the consultants provided a general overview of their impressions of the area and addressed some specific questions from the audience. They provided the following insights:
- Wisconsin is going in the right direction in terms of a labor-friendly environment; the quality of life, availability of education and diversity of industries are all impressive.
- Regional collaboration is strong, and will need to continue for continued success.
- The existing knowledge and ongoing education of the regional workforce and leadership is impressive, but advised economic developers to get ahead of the impending nationwide labor shortage as Baby Boomers retire faster than Millennials can replace them in the workforce.
- “Workforce supply is going to be a serious issue on a national level,” said site selector Paige Webster. “We’ve seen phenomenal leadership in this area’s business sector but they will need to get ahead of this issue before other communities start trying to recruit from Wisconsin.”
- With regard to the workforce, site selector Alison Benton said, “That is a gem that you need to make sure others know about.”
- “This region shows a commitment to the workforce that is unparalleled,” said site selector James Beatty.
- Multiple comments were made regarding the welcoming nature of Wisconsinites.
- “Where are you when the CEO of billion-dollar company greets you at the front door and knows the names of all the workers? You’re in Wisconsin,” said Beatty. “This tour has opened up my eyes significantly. I think the world is ready to hear from Wisconsin.”
- Positive points aside, Wisconsin needs to do more to tell its success story; all of the site selectors agreed that Wisconsin does not market itself or its positives enough.
- “We’ve heard about regional collaboration a lot in the last few days and it feels very real; it’s very apparent that you do fabulous collaboration here,” Benton said. “But we need to hear more about your technical college system, and what I saw yesterday was nothing short of amazing.”
- The site selectors also noted that Wisconsin as a whole does not have a consistent message to unify companies within the state.
- “There’s no glaring problem but there’s a lot of room for improvement,” said site selector Bradley Midgal. “People from Wisconsin are very humble. It’s time to be aggressive.” Midgal recommended utilizing corporate sponsorship of economic development, as has been done in other states.
The site selection consultants participating in the tour represented firms from Texas, Arizona, Nebraska and Illinois. Both chambers collaborated with other area organizations to make this event possible, including the NEW North and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. To learn more about the Driving Forward FAM Tour, visit www.foxcitiesregionalpartnership.com or www.titletown.org/fam-tour.
Fox Cities Regional Partnership is an affiliate of the Fox Cities Chamber. It exists for the purpose of strengthening our local economy by supporting local job creation through the retention, expansion and attraction of primary employers. The Regional Partnership serves as the point of contact for local businesses seeking assistance with labor training, funding, government advocacy, building and land opportunities, research (including demographic and economic information) and other individual needs. The Regional Partnership serves the communities of Outagamie and Calumet Counties, as well as the northern portions of Winnebago County.
The Greater Green Bay Chamber exists to strengthen member businesses through enhancing economic and workforce development, resulting in improved quality of life in our community and region. Its members represent 91,000 employees—more than 2/3 of the Brown County workforce. The Chamber strives to be the champion of business development for the Greater Green Bay area because strong business builds a strong community.