From the Editor – Young Professionals: Help put this region on the map

Posted on Nov 1, 2013 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Northeast Wisconsin is beginning to show up on the radar screen of economic developers nationwide and beyond, thanks to the work of our many world class manufacturers and the initiatives of New North, Inc. Last month the New North Business Locator Guide earned two silver awards from the International Economic Development Corporation, based in Washington, D.C. Let me stress, this was international recognition.

The 20-page booklet, which highlights the positive attributes of doing business in Northeast Wisconsin, provides tangible proof of why this place is a great place to work and live. Ann Duginske, director of marketing and development for New North, Inc., shares the story in this month’s Face Time.

So, we’re on the radar screen. But are we, ahem … on the map?

A column I wrote on this topic in September struck a chord with a lot of our readers. I described how a visit by Ronnie Bryant of the Charlotte USA Partnerships, hosted by the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, made a lot of people think. Bryant gave us points for our collaborative work across the 18-county region, but he quite candidly challenged us to be bold about getting our name out there. “Where is New North?” he asked.

The subject came up again when Greater Green Bay, an initiative of the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, hosted futurist and author Rebecca Ryan at St. Norbert College.

“This community needs to tell your story in a unified way,” Ryan said. “Do you coast or do you double down? For anybody who believes in the future, the answer is to double down.”

Ryan also urged young professionals to grab the baton from today’s leaders and set the agenda for a forward-thinking future.

“Young professionals, your job is to make your target,” Ryan said, singling out members of the Green Bay young professionals group, Current. “If there is an issue you feel passionate about, don’t just ‘flame’ people (passively complain), make yourself part of the solution.” Gen-Xers will be the leaders as we climb out of what she calls this economic “winter” in the coming years, she said.

At Ryan’s book signing table, Brian Johnson, young professionals and career education program manager at the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, struck up a conversation about what’s already under way. When the six young professionals groups from throughout the New North region met in Oshkosh in October for the seventh annual Leaderfest event, regional collaboration was clearly a priority, he said. Current has already begun meeting with Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt to develop a young professionals’ advisory group, he pointed out.

“We want to drive the economic development agenda, and the mayor is all over it,” Johnson said. Members of Current have been looking at similar efforts nationwide, such as a mayor’s advisory group in Cincinnati, for ideas on how to proceed.

Co-chair of the event Bridget O’Connor picked up on the need to take the work done by New North, Inc. and find a way to get the region noticed globally.

“When I’m meeting with people who come to St. Norbert, to this region from around the world, we might not even have a common language, but when they see the (Packers) G or when they recognize Green Bay, it’s a thumbs up, it’s a high five, it’s a recognition of pride and enthusiasm,” said O’Connor, principal and owner of O’Connor Connective LLC and senior advisor to the president at St. Norbert College. “It’s a human connector of pride and energy and enthusiasm. Why wouldn’t we leverage that?”

Jim Rivett, president of Arketype and also co-chair of the Rebecca Ryan event, concurred.

“Certainly, connecting with New North is a part of what we want to do,” Rivett said. “We should plug into whatever the goals are and come under their umbrella. I think we need to get more into sharing of knowledge.”

The conversation will likely continue at the annual New North Summit, coming up Friday, Dec. 6 at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Green Bay. Click here for details. Register at

As always, I hope to see you there!

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

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