New North Summit highlights economic successes

Posted on Dec 6, 2019 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive
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Posted by of Insight Publications

More than 650 people were on hand Thursday for the annual New North Summit, the region’s largest economic development gathering.

Held at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay, the summit combined the sharing of key economic information with presentations from a variety of speakers focused on growing the region’s economy.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine CEO Jan Allman kicked off the summit by discussing the latest projects at the shipyard and its efforts to land a $10 billion U.S. Navy frigate contract, which will be announced next summer.

“When Fincantieri purchased us — along with Bay Shipbuilding and ACE Marine — they made the investment necessary to turn us into a top-tier shipyard. So far, $180 million has been invested here,” she said. “It’s been an exciting time and we’ve seen exponential growth. If we get the frigate contract, we’ll even see more growth.”

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Missy Hughes said the New North region is a model for public-private partnerships in Wisconsin.

“After visiting the new (University of Wisconsin-Green Bay) STEM Innovation Center, TitletownTech and the Rail Yard District, I am using the New North region as a model for the rest of the state,” she said. “The WEDC is also working on multiple programs to address the talent needs of our employers across the state.”

The summit also featured three ED Talks — modeled after the popular TED talks, but focused on economic development. The speakers were Kim Underhill, group president of Kimberly-Clark North America; Fred Stephan, president of Amcor Flexibles North America; and David Beurle, CEO and founder of Future iQ.

In her presentation, Underhill discussed the importance of employers recognizing the changing needs of their employees.

“Businesses need to realize that as families change that the benefits offered need to change,” she said. “For example, employees are not only taking care of their children but may need to tend to their parents as well. That means flexibility is key and something employees are looking for.”

Stephan, who led Bemis Co. North America until that company was purchased by Amcor, discussed his experience of leading through change. “It all comes down to your people and the culture you create, being customer focused and keeping it simple,” he said.

Beurle, who has worked with the New North’s Business Intelligence Committee for the past several months, said the economy is going through a fundamental change, and businesses that aren’t ready for it may not survive.

“We’re in the fourth industrial revolution, and manufacturing is being transformed by technology. Everything you can think of will be automated,” he said. “At the same time, we’re seeing a generational change in the workplace, and as more baby boomers leave and more millennials arrive, workplace culture will also change.”

The day also included the first-ever HATCH Pitch Contest in which eight entrepreneurs who advanced from four regional competitions competed for the first prize of $5,000. Luke Haen and his BAKKAB Safe Backing system took first place. Andrew Schmitz and his app, Proceed, which allows for sharing of information during the onboarding process for new employees, took second place and received $3,000.

The NEW Manufacturing Alliance also held its full membership meeting and presented the results of its 10th annual Manufacturing Vitality Index. Mark Lasky, CEO of Sadoff Iron & Metal, was named the new chairman of NEWMA’s board.

Workplace award: Integrity Insurance of Appleton received the Workplace Excellence Award, which is presented by Right Management. Judges called out the company’s commitment to innovation and empowering employees to develop their own solutions.

“Our people fuel our innovation,” said Integrity President Jill Wagner Kelly “I definitely believe that as we build people, they will build the company.”

Related stories: Schneider named New North Board Co-chair

NEWMA marks 10 years of Vitality Index