FROM THE EDITOR – Let's pave the way for the next generation

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

WE’VE GOT TO BE READY, FOR their sake.

Our time on this earth, and what we can accomplish here, is short. But when we think in terms of our children, our nieces and nephews and grandchildren, we can extend our impact to the legacy we leave with them.

This entire space could easily be filled making the case for why the Fox Valley Technical College referendum – coming up April 3 for residents of the Fox Valley – is so important. As outlined in the story by Associate Editor Nikki Kallio on page 28, anyone who cares about the future of the regional economy, particularly businesses, should favor the $66.5 million plan to expand FVTC.

But this theme of “next generation” rises to the surface throughout this issue of Insight.

Perhaps nothing will have more impact on the next generations than how and where we source our energy. Neal Verfuerth of Orion Energy Systems, our cover subject, has created a business model that makes saving energy a no-brainer for companies. In a nutshell, he helps them finance new energy-efficient lighting with the amount they had budgeted on their past utility costs (brilliant, huh?). To date, Orion has helped more than 6,100 companies across North America save more than a $1 billion in energy costs.

The next generation factors greatly into “Facing the Future,” the story on page 10 about our recent InDevelopment conference. Keynote Tony Nelessen so much as said, “Watch for real change when the baby boomers die.” Though some did not agree with everything he said, they could not deny the research he shared (I encourage you to watch the video of his talk on our YouTube channel. Search “InsightMagazineWI.”)

In short, Nelessen said that the generations that follow care more about saving energy than gobbling it like a bottomless bowl of candy. They flat-out reject the quarter-acre suburban lots and 4,000-square-foot homes miles away from the city centers. They gravitate to densely-populated neighborhoods where they can meet friends spontaneously. They like to walk. They like to bike. Given a choice, they would create parks in place of parking lots.

Millennials – today’s teens through early 30-somethings – also will reject conventional work spaces. Who needs an office when you have a laptop and a smart phone? In turn, this trend toward stockpiling digital data is already creating a need for more data centers nationwide. The New North hopes to capitalize on this trend by appealing to companies that are looking for places to locate such facilities. For many reasons, Northeast Wisconsin is an ideal spot for data centers. Read more about it on page 37.

Perhaps no other business owner focuses more on the next generation than a family business. Recognizing the unique qualities of such an ownership model, many businesses have taken advantage of the resources of the Family Business Forum at UW-Oshkosh. “I really, really wish I could’ve had a forum as a resource when I was taking over for my dad,” says one member. Check out “Family Ties” on page 34 for more.

Now, back to that referendum. The Friends of FVTC advocacy group faces a daunting task as it attempts to educate thousands of people in a short time about why the technical college needs to expand its facilities and services to the tune of $66.5 million. While not all of our readers in Northeast Wisconsin will have the opportunity to vote on this measure, its outcome will certainly reverberate beyond the Fox Valley. But if you do have the opportunity to vote on this referendum, here are two great reasons to vote yes:

» The expanded programs and facilities will cost local residents just $12.50 per year per $100,000 in property valuation (a lot of bang for your buck).

» The Public Safety Training Center, just one part of the many programs that would expand under this measure, would provide a $100 million return on investment within five years. That’s good business sense.

Given the demand for training – and the impending expected shortage of skilled workers we keep hearing about – this is one measure that businesses will want to support.

Let’s do it for the next generation.

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

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