Ambitious plans taking flight in Northeast Wisconsin

Posted on Jul 15, 2016 :: Editors Note
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

I’ve always had a fascination with flying.

For as far back as I can remember — and that is getting to be a longer stretch than I care to admit to — flying and aviation have always been an area of intense interest to me. When I returned to Wisconsin in the late 1990s, I was one of the few in my media organization who looked forward to the annual AirVenture event hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

I just loved being out on the grounds, seeing the airplanes and meeting people with a passion for aviation. After the initial rush of being around my favorite aircraft and pilots, I began to wonder why Oshkosh — and the region for that matter — didn’t have a greater aviation industry presence year-round. Surely, there must be ways to leverage the event and the people it attracts into something more?

In fact, I posed that very question to Tom Poberezny as part of a cover story in the July 2010 issue of Insight magazine.

Well, it turns out there was a lot more of the aviation industry in Northeast Wisconsin than people were generally aware — those companies tended to fly under the radar, so to speak, because they weren’t making aircraft, rather they made the parts that were used to make aircraft. It also turned out a lot of people were asking those same questions.

Now, it’s all coming together.

During the next few months, you will be hearing a lot about marketing Northeast Wisconsin as an aviation industry hub. As Reporter Andrew Schaick details in this month’s cover story “Industry cluster takes flight,” those plans will leverage the nearly 300 regional companies already in the aviation industry supply chain, as well as the now-open-for-development aviation business park in Oshkosh.

The story unfolds on page 8 and details the sectors expected to drive additional growth for the aviation industry, as well as plans to use this year’s AirVenture to kick off the marketing of the new industrial park in Oshkosh.

Growing the region’s aviation sector isn’t the only new initiative being launched this summer. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, building on the success of the engineering technology degree program launched in 2014, has launched its Campaign Engineering Technology, a $10 million initiative that will fund scholarships, K-12 outreach and equipment upgrades for the engineering technology degree programs. Read the story on page 19.

The program is already helping Northeast Wisconsin’s manufacturers with hard-to-fill technical positions, but demand for these skills is one of the top challenges facing regional employers.

While we revel in the highlights and high temperatures of summer, it’s not too early to start thinking about your plans for this fall, specifically your attendance at this year’s edition of Manufacturing First, Oct. 19 and 20 at the KI Center in Green Bay.

Presented by First Business in partnership with the NEW Manufacturing Alliance and Insight Publications, Manufacturing First provides Wisconsin manufacturers hands-on opportunities to grow their businesses. It is designed for them to showcase industry advances, highlight successes, announce the latest developments, and provide premier networking opportunities.

This year’s keynote speaker will be adidas President Mark King, who will discuss The Evolution of Leadership. You can get all the details to start planning in our special Manufacturing First content section on page 15.

We are looking forward to it.