Regional Roundup November

Posted on Nov 1, 2009 :: Up Front
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Here’s a roundup of economic development news from throughout Northeast Wisconsin. For links to economic development groups in the New North, visit www.thenewnorth.com/communitiesmap.

The New North: News affecting all 18 counties of the New North region

New North summit offers a chance for business to grow
Business professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders from throughout the New North will have an opportunity to renew themselves and come away with some great business ideas during the fifth annual New North summit on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the KI Center in Green Bay.

“A Date to Renew” is a one-day opportunity designed to help business and community leaders collaborate and network, says Jerry Murphy, executive director of the New North. It’s also a time to learn something new whether it’s about a new business, networking techniques, social media or a new food courtesy of the Taste of Entrepreneurship Luncheon, which features culinary treats from throughout the region.

New North is again collaborating with NEW END on the day-long event. The morning focuses on economic development in the region and will feature success stories of how people and companies are reinventing themselves. David Ward, founder of NorthStar Economics and a former University of Wisconsin executive, will provide the keynote speech about the region’s five-year progress in adapting to the new economy.

The afternoon sessions will feature networking, panel discussions and breakout sessions focused on entrepreneurship and how all business and community leaders can use these skills to revitalize what they’re doing.

“For more than five years the New North Summit has been the premier annual gathering of business leaders in Northeast Wisconsin. This year, we’re excited to focus our attention on the success many in our region have had by repositioning themselves to take advantage of market developments and economic shifts,” Murphy says.

Registration is $45 per person before Nov. 16 and $55 afterwards. Visit www.thenewnorth.com or the www.thenewend.com for more information or to register.

New North recruitment brochure honored
The International Economic Development Council recognized the New North for its talent recruitment brochure at the IEDC’s annual conference in Reno, Nev., last month.

New North’s North of What You Expect – Living in the New North entry won an honorable mention for its effective use of information and graphics to define living in the 18-county Northeast Wisconsin region. Companies, municipalities, academic institutions and others were looking for an employee talent and business recruitment piece to complement their own tools to more accurately reflect the regional range of important assets and information pertinent to relocation decisions.

North of What you Expect – Living in the New North was designed by Coalesce Inc., with photos from Image Studios.

Highway 41 Corridor: Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac Counties

Oshkosh combat vehicles arrive in Afghanistan
The first MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) made by the Oshkosh Corp. are now on the ground in Afghanistan. The vehicle’s delivery comes just three months after Oshkosh was awarded the M-ATV contract. Oshkosh designed the combat vehicle based on a battle-proven platform, incorporating superior survivability and suspension technology to provide the protection and mobility needed for missions in the mountainous terrain in Afghanistan. Having so far received awards valued at $2.3 billion for 4,296 M-ATVs, spare parts and support services, Oshkosh has delivered vehicles ahead of the government’s schedule every month and is on its way to ramping up production to 1,000 vehicles per month by this December.

Outagamie airport brings $407 million to community
The Outagamie County Airport (ATW) is more than just a transportation hub. It’s an economic machine responsible for pouring $407.5 million into the local economy during 2008, according to a new study.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Planning study tracked the airport’s direct impact, indirect impacts and induced impacts on the community. In addition to the $407.5 million in economic output, the airport supported 2,642 jobs and contributed an additional $119.9 million in wage income to neighboring economies.

The airport is much more than the planes flying in and out, says Airport Director Marty Lenss. It’s also home to thriving businesses, including Gulfstream, which employs about 700, and services and finishes jets from around the country.

“We’re financially self-sustaining and don’t take a single tax dollar from our community. We’ve created a diverse revenue stream through our airport tenants, general aviation operations, airport parking fees and personalized travel services offered by our website,” he says. “Our industrial park at the airport will also allow us to create more revenue while allowing us to provide convenient facilities to area businesses looking for a prime location.”

Displaced workers get more funds in new plan
Six local Workforce Development Boards from across Wisconsin are receiving $1.1 million in additional federal dislocated worker funds to expand reemployment and retraining services to workers laid off from more than 100 different companies across the state.

The Fox Valley Workforce Development area is receiving $300,140 to assist workers from Appleton Paper, Appleton Coated, Brillion Iron Works, Cummins, Hoffmaster, Mercury Marine, Miller Electric, New Page, Presto Products, ThyssenKrupp, Walker Forge, Wilson Hurd, Gulfstream, Oshkosh B’Gosh, Wausau Paper, Gannett Press, GE Oil & Gas, Wausau Paper and Jeld-Wen.

Laid off workers should contact their local job centers to see if they qualify.

QTI survey finds employers concerned about retention
A survey by the QTI Group of Companies suggests that Fox Valley and other Wisconsin employers are concerned that cost-cutting measures are taking a toll on employee engagement and retention efforts. The survey found that employers are more optimistic about recovery than they were early in 2009 and concerns seem to be shifting from survival to notions of rebuilding.

“We’re beginning to accumulate a lot of survey evidence – we’ve been conducting multiple pulse surveys – that companies are beginning to look beyond the crisis and are taking a longer view of things,” says Marshall Heyworth, chief operating officer of QTI Consulting. “Although pay projections are not very high – employers are projecting a 2.2 percent increase in their salary budget for next year – it is well above the 1.9 percent recorded this year. Furthermore, firms are really concerned with the impact of pay and staffing cuts on the morale and effectiveness of the workforce.”

Thirty-five percent of responding firms expressed some degree of concern about losing key employees due to changes they had enacted in human resources programs because of the economic downturn. A significant majority of companies also said that retention of top talent and employee engagement are problem areas explicitly because of cost cutting measures enacted in late 2008 and early 2009.

“Companies in the Fox Valley recognize that while the cost cutting was necessary, it doesn’t come without its own costs in terms of organizational performance,” says Mary Wettstein, vice president of the Fox Valley Market for QTI.

“Fifty-three percent of organizations said that current staffing levels are too low for an economic upturn, and 27 percent of organizations said they plan on expanding in 2010.”

“There appears to be a new human resources anxiety out there,” says Wettstein. “What if the economy really is doing better and we’re not well-positioned for this?”

Wettstein suggests that savvy companies need to simultaneously preserve cash, pursue organizational efficiencies and position themselves for growth – a difficult feat that places a premium on talent management and workforce engagement.

The survey drew responses from 137 companies employing 118,940 employees from the metro-areas of Appleton/Oshkosh, Milwaukee and Madison in August and September of 2009. Thirty-six percent of respondents are in manufacturing, 15 percent in health care, and 15 percent in non-profits, education, and public administration.

UW-Green Bay sees record number of students
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has a record-setting number of students attending class this fall semester. University enrollment calculations indicate a total student head count of 6,549 students earning credits at UW-Green Bay, 310 students more than last year’s record of 6,239.

The numbers show UW-Green Bay has its largest freshman class with 1,041 students.

Civil engineering firm joins Advance Business
QUEST Civil Engineers LLC has joined the Advance Business Center in Green Bay. Owned by Kimberly Kronstedt, QUEST is a consulting civil engineering, surveying and environmental firm that provides professional services throughout the State of Wisconsin. The company is also a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise under the Wisconsin Unified Certification Program and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. More than 200 companies have been served by Advance since it opened in 1987.

Two solar panel projects earn energy grants
The Town of Menasha and the Navarino Nature Center in Shiocton have been honored by Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide resource for renewable energy, for achieving a combined solar-electric generation capacity of 2.5 megawatts.

Energize LLC of Winneconne installed the systems in the Town of Menasha and at the nature center. In honor of their contributions, the Town of Menasha received an incentive check from Focus on Energy for $50,000 while Navarino Nature Center received a check for $30,955. The financial incentives provided by Focus on Energy will be used to defray the cost of the solar electric systems.

Green Bay Chamber to award manufacturing honors
The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce will present its Manufacturing Awards of Distinction Nov. 5 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. Nominees are Bay Tek Games, Pulaski; Door Peninsula Winery, Sturgeon Bay; Great Lakes Custom Tool, Peshtigo; Hudson-Sharp Machine Company, Green Bay; Lindquist Machine Corporation, Ashwaubenon; MCL Industries, Pulaski; Pioneer Metal Finishing, Ashwaubenon; Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, Manitowoc; WS Packaging Group, Inc, Green Bay and Algoma.

UW-Fox Valley, Lawrence team up for science grant
A $435,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program will support a wide range of research by Lawrence University and University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley scientists and students. The grant will fund the purchase of a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, which will be housed in the Lawrence chemistry department.

Similar to a hospital MRI machine, a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer is used by chemists and biochemists to determine the molecular structures of a wide variety of compounds, ranging from proteins to drugs. Faculty and students at both schools will use the new equipment.

The Lakeshore: Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Chaudoir recognized as innovation champion
William Chaudoir, executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation, has been recognized as a 2009 “Wisconsin Innovation Champion” by the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The award was announced at the UW-W Ideas to Profits conference earlier this month.

The award cited Chaudoir’s 20-year tenure as executive director of DCEDC, where he helped develop innovative programs in entrepreneurial training, international business, workforce development and business incubation, including the Door County Business Development Center, one of the most successful business incubators in Wisconsin.

The Innovation Champion awards, presented to individuals who have had a significant impact on entrepreneurship in Wisconsin, began in 2005. DCEDC Economic Development Manager Sam Perlman received the award in 2007.

West Central: Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Genex to expand with Shawano loan assistance
Genex Cooperative will expand its Shawano-based cattle genetics operations and add jobs with the help of $300,000 in low-interest loans from the City of Shawano and Shawano County. The expansion project includes renovations to the company’s existing headquarters that will enable Genex to install additional lab equipment and expand its bull semen product line. Adding this space and equipment will create 18 jobs in the short term, with continued opportunities for growth in the long term. Genex will also expand its Stony Hill facility west of Shawano to allow for more bulls to be housed there.

The Northwoods: Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

ST Paper received grant for renewable energy system
ST Paper of Oconto Falls has received $237,500 from Focus on Energy to help defray the cost of the company’s new renewable energy system and help the company reduce the company’s demand for outside energy sources.

The company’s biomass system is a 1,500-horsepower wood-fired boiler and is an alternative to using natural gas to produce heat. The wood fired boiler ultimately produces 95 percent of the steam needed for the paper plant’s process requirements. The system is expected to offset 4,853,000 therms a year. That’s enough heat for nearly 5,000 homes.

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