The New North recently won a silver award from the International Economic Development Corporation for its new business locator guide, competing internationally with communities with populations up to 10 million people. Insight Co-Publisher and Editor Margaret LeBrun spoke with Ann Duginske, director of marketing and development at New North, Inc. about the business locator guide, a tool that’s designed to attract companies to this region, and the 10th annual New North Summit, planned for Friday, Dec. 6.
I think New North is to a point where we have an exciting opportunity to tell our region’s story to other people. I think we feel lucky that we’ve developed the kinds of partnerships and the kinds of collaborations and the work that we’ve done so far – that we have so much to offer. We have defined industry clusters, we have very strong partners in local economic developers where we know that we can rely on those relationships and transfer prospects to them. We have excellent educational opportunities that are responsive to business needs. I just think we can start telling that story externally to other markets and start leveraging New North as a global brand.
I’ve been with New North almost four years. It was my first position out of school, and I spent some time interning, too. I went to UW-Oshkosh in marketing and journalism. I was very involved in student government and I got to know Chancellor (Richard) Wells very well. He has been on the board of New North, and it was inspiring to think that there’s this organization that brings everyone’s separate passions together and fuels that into things that improve collectively our home, our place. No organization like this is so positive about taking the best passions and the best goals and working together in order to do something.
I’m from Green Bay. I think some of the things I’m still surprised about is just how global we are and how much of a leader we are in this area. We have companies that are producing some of the top brands that actually make some of the fundamental things that everyone uses. We have companies that are attracting some of the top talent in the entire country. A lot of us who grew up here and stayed here are very passionate about this place – passionate enough that we don’t need to compare ourselves. And sometimes you have to stand up and realize just how great you are and tell others that.
The business locator guide is our story. It’s a 20-page brochure of the highlights and strengths and the positive advantages that our region offers. It debuted at the 2012 summit, and since then, we’ve been taking it all over the country to tell people how great this place is. For example, there are some workforce metrics about how our work ethic means better response times and better project completion times than anywhere else in the country.
We submitted the guide for consideration to the International Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Awards. Considering all the communities that submit to that every year, it’s a huge recognition of our work. People are interested in what we have to say and the value that we have.
The 2013 summit will be Friday, Dec. 6 at the Green Bay Radisson Hotel and Conference Center. We expect over 900 attendees and this year our theme, New North Live, is about telling our story, highlighting all the big developments that are happening in the region.
Everywhere around the state and this region, I’m hearing, “Northeast Wisconsin, that’s where all the growth is.” People say that all over the state and the Midwest. People tell me, “You guys work together up there – you actually talk to each other.”
They also tell me it’s because there are some specific investments happening. There are infrastructure investments in the highway, businesses are making decisions about expanding their locations and creating more jobs. People pay attention to that kind of pulse. And we haven’t seen that since really the beginning of the recession. If we tell our story well and we do it together, then we’ll be able to ensure we have new jobs, new investment and we’re competitive in this global economy.