CONNECTIONS – Networking big draw for event

Posted on Sep 1, 2012 :: Connections
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

The second annual Manufacturing First Expo & Conference takes place Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. More than 400 Wisconsin manufacturers participated last year in the event, created with the goal of connecting and informing manufacturers around the state.

“One of the things we heard from (manufacturers) is they wanted more time for networking,” says Ann Franz, strategic partnerships manager at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and coordinator of the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, a coordinating sponsor of the event. “So we’ve developed a program so there’s time for people to network with one another.” Time has also been scheduled for attendees to explore booths in the expo, she adds.

“It’s a great way to network with potential customers, as well as to learn how to utilize innovation,” says Franz. “It is an exciting event because, again, most of the time you’re going to be networking and learning from one another.”

Plenty of time for networking has been built into the event, including from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m., at lunch and during a cocktail reception capping the day at 3 p.m.

Mickey Noone, president of First Business Bank-Northeast, also a coordinating sponsor, says this year’s event also addresses the need for young people to develop an interest in manufacturing. Separate from the main agenda, students, teachers and guidance counselors from schools in the region have been invited to meet with representatives from manufacturing.

“We’re having some school counselors and some middle school and high school kids come in and participate,” says Noone, noting that allowing today’s manufacturers to speak with tomorrow’s workforce will give “the students and counselors a better idea of what manufacturers are looking for.”

Encouraging young people to consider careers in manufacturing is a key initiative among manufacturers in the region. Following the success of last year’s conference, organizers of Manufacturing First presented a check for $3,000 to support graduating high school seniors who are attending a technical college in the New North in a manufacturing-related degree program.

Keynote speakers will address the workforce shortage in manufacturing. Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation and WMC vice president, will address, “How to Solve the Skills Shortage.” Tim Sullivan, former CEO of Bucyrus and special consultant for the state of Wisconsin, will discuss “Wisconsin’s 21st Century Workforce.”

Breakout sessions on innovation, the skills shortage and global competitiveness will feature discussions with leaders, and the day provides several opportunities for networking and exhibits.

Manufacturing First offers a valuable experience for any manufacturer in the state, Noone adds. “One of the most valuable parts of the program is just being able to be around other manufacturers,” he says.

Tickets are $75. The price includes lunch and access to the full day of conference, expo and networking opportunities. For more information, visit

The Manufacturing First Expo & Conference is presented by First Business Bank in partnership with the NEW Manufacturing Alliance and Insight Publications.

Friday, Sept. 14

The Young Professionals of Fond du Lac’s Casino Night Fundraiser will be hosted at South Hills Golf & Country Club. The cost is $35 for YPF members and their guests and $45 for non-YPF members. Visit

Friday, Sept. 28

The Wisconsin Green Building Alliance’s ninth annual sustainability conference, this year called SE2: A New Focus on Green, will be held at UW-Milwaukee. Topic include the economics of green building, emerging technologies and life cycle assessment. For more information, go to

Wednesday & Thursday, Oct. 10-11

Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) Northeast Wisconsin Region 5 Fall Conference and annual meeting, held at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay, will include an address by AITP President Norbert Kubilus on “The Future of IT and AITP’s Role.” Cost is $40 for AITP professional members, $20 for student members and $50 for others. For information, contact Larry Schmitz at [email protected].

Manufacturing First Expo & Conference
Sept. 26 at the KI Center, Green Bay
Tickets: $75