From the Editor – June

Posted on Jun 1, 2010 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Margaret LeBrun

Objects in the mirror are not always what they appear
Two PEOPLE, two PERSPECTIVES.Yet one cohesive outlook, one vision.

That’s what we were striving to convey with our cover on Pat and Rob Riordan, brothers at the helm of Nsight, a 100-year-old communications company based in Green Bay.

Now, you may have noticed that Insight features just one portrait on the cover each month. We believe there is something about one pair of eyes looking right at you that goes a long way toward drawing our readers in. We’ve made it our “signature” look.

Every now and then it’s a challenge to determine which business partner is the one to feature. This time, our photographer, Shane Van Boxtel of Image Studios, proposed we photograph both and splice the two together. Did you do a double-take when you saw one blue eye, one green? A white shirt and red print tie, and a blue shirt and navy print tie? We hope it piqued your interest enough to jump straight to the cover story. Associate Editor Rick Berg captured the unique personalities of the brothers, describing how the “rock” and the “futurist” have built their family business from an old-fashioned phone company to a wireless wonder, at the forefront of communication technology.

Look again: How we rank

Obviously, objects in the mirror are often not what they appear. This concept hit home for a group of businesspeople who recently gathered with New North, Inc. leaders to discuss why certain “best-place-to-do-business” rankings too often rank Wisconsin low.

They analyzed four studies: Chief Executive Magazine, which ranked Wisconsin 43rd best; Forbes, which ranked Wisconsin 48th best and the Milken Institute, which ranked Wisconsin 23rd highest … for its costs of doing business. According to New North Executive Director Jerry Murphy, they were not out to challenge the rankings, but to find out what information was used to derive them, and what actions could be taken to improve the rankings.

“We thought instead of getting frustrated with the scores, maybe it would be better to understand them, and to try to figure out where, if anywhere, there are places the business community could impact the outcome of subsequent years’ ranking –  and if the business community of New North and the State of Wisconsin can genuinely influence the outcome.”

For example, the cost of wages is typically considered a negative trait for attracting new businesses. But viewed from another perspective, higher wages could indicate a workforce with higher skills, more education, one that is more innovative and technologically savvy. It could also indicate a healthy state economy.

The group also looked at how Wisconsin might rank compared to other Midwest states minus the largest city in each. Minus Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cleveland and Des Moines, Wisconsin indeed moves up – quite a bit – in the rankings in terms of average earnings, unemployment, per capita personal income and population. Such a vantage point affords a clearer picture of where the New North ranks among similar regions.

A meeting of several business leaders was to occur between our press time and issue mailing. What happens next will depend on the passion among those in attendance, and the desire for change, Murphy says. The plan was to prioritize a list of business attributes that are commonly measured, and come up with three or four items that could be improved upon.

New North Board Member Tom Wiltzius, this month’s Face Time interview (see page 17) was among those expected to take part. As the leader of five executive round table groups, Wiltzius believes that the truth about our region is quite likely better than certain rankings reveal.

“We work hard, we raise families, we pay our taxes, we go to church, we hoist a brew,” Wiltzius says. “We’re solid people. What is the only thing that the world has against us? We throw snowballs in the wintertime.”

One thing is certainly clear: Identifying how – not just what – we can do to improve our business climate will be a worthy task.


Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →