State Organization Boosts Wisconsin
You may have seen the billboards that have cropped up around town in recent weeks promoting Think•Make•Happen. The signs piqued my curiosity to the point that I just had to do a quick Google search…here is what I learned while surfing the web.
The organization behind the billboards is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) which is a public/private group of state legislators, departmental secretaries, and professionals from the private sector with relevant business related experience. You can view their board of directors HERE.
The mission of the WEDC is to advance and maximize opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people “to thrive in a globally competitive environment.”
They hope to accomplish this by leading and leveraging talented professional and strategic partnerships in such a way that it helps to elevate the quality of life and long-term economic prosperity of Wisconsin.
The Home page of the Think•Make•Happen (TMH) website states:
“In Wisconsin, you’re free to think bigger, encouraged to make your mark, and poised for great things to happen. Our culture and traditions fuel discovery and create opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment. Join us in strengthening and sharing what it means to live and work in Wisconsin.”
This is how the TMH defines their three pronged approach to building a better Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s highly-ranked K-12, technical college and university education systems nurture great problem-solving. But it’s our history that encourages uncommon thinking to solve global challenges and improve the world. Don’t be trapped by other people’s thinking.
Think Big. Think New. Think Progress. Think Forward.
Yes, we have deep roots in manufacturing. But that’s only part of what we make. In Wisconsin, you’ll join people who do things differently.
Make Choices. Make Strides. Make History. Make a Life.
With so much natural beauty, culture and talent happening in Wisconsin, unique and rewarding experiences abound.
Happen Here. Happen Together. Happen Now. Happen More.
The Think•Make•Happen initiative hopes to partner with companies, communities, school districts, and economic development organizations to retain talents within our state, and to recruit new employees to Wisconsin. It is a joint marketing operation that hopes to assist communities across the state.
Here’s an example of how the Fox Cities of Northeastern Wisconsin (Appleton, Menasha, Oshkosh and Neenah) worked with TMH to market their area.
TMH encourages Wisconsin communities to focus on “next gen” in order to capture the passion that young professionals bring to the workplace, and to build and sustain Wisconsin’s strong workforce while building a higher quality of life.
By making quality of life a focus, TMH hopes to advertise what Wisconsin has to offer from careers and commute times, to relaxation, motivation and education. The organization promotes a life in perfect balance that is attractive to the millennial generation.
To that end, TMH is concentrating on developing an online resource to highlight what’s great about each region of Wisconsin. It is hoped that in so doing, TMH can help recruitment efforts of Wisconsin employers.
An example of what TMH has involved itself in local communities is their partnership with Waunakee High School, near Madison. TMH is working toward educating high school youth in how apprenticeship programs can deliver experience, ideas, and credits that they can then apply to their chosen educational path.
The goal of that program would seem to be to enhance the available workforce in that area in order to assist businesses in recruiting new employees with the appropriate educational background.
The Think•Make•Happen Brand
Part of the action plan behind TMH is to identify the Wisconsin Opportunity Brand. This brand examines the characteristics of our population, along with the costs of doing business educational systems available, and overall life style.
This brand is represented by this graphic:
TMH envisions Wisconsin as a destination where business, career and personal opportunity is distilled into a Core Value. For a detailed examination of how they define that brand, follow this link.
What’s Behind Think•Make•Happen?
In days gone by, a company might build a factory and put a call out for workers. People would then migrate from elsewhere to take those jobs, and the company would have a seemingly endless supply of employees.
Today however, that model doesn’t work as well as it used to. Availability of a talented and skilled workforce is key to success in many areas of our state.
In order to recruit the best and brightest, employers must now recognize that lifestyle choices and the attractiveness of a community may have more to do with providing a good source of employees than ever before.
The WEDC did extensive research about what it will take to retain and recruit millennials in our state. This is great advice for the leaders of Superior as we look towards redeveloping our city via the Better City Superior model.
Not surprisingly, when WEDC asked people from other states what words came to mind when asked about Wisconsin, the top answers were cheese, Packers, cold winter, dairy farms, and the great outdoors.
However, when digging into their poll results, the folks from WEDC learned however that the features that encourages people to settle in Wisconsin are as follows:
- Outdoor Activities
- Great Place to Raise a Family
- Good Quality of Life
- Cultural Activities
- Protection of Natural Resources
- Good Educational Opportunities
Here’s a detailed table of those results:
Welcoming Business Climate
The WEDC survey found that Wisconsin has an attractive business climate and that 61% of businesses responding from outside of Wisconsin would consider expanding their operation into our state. Additionally, 77% of Wisconsin businesses would consider expanding within Wisconsin.
While “cheese” remained the number one word that came to mind about Wisconsin for business respondents, the phrase “a nice state” came in second.
Here is how Wisconsin ranks among businesses in attitudes toward locating here:
How Do Potential Investors View Wisconsin?
While “dairy farms” and “cheese” ranked highly in top of mind awareness with the investor class, the number one response from those who might invest capital into Wisconsin was “good schools.”
This is important in that such perceptions of our state indicate that our workforce is considered to be well educated and hard working. Fifty percent of national investors were interested in putting their money into Wisconsin, while 81% of Wisconsin based investors are committed to their home state.
This table shows how Wisconsin ranks in several categories pertaining to investing here:
How Does This Apply to Superior?
That’s a good question… On the surface, it seems that Think•Make•Happen is largely an in depth survey of the attitudes of normal people, business owners, and high level investors. They did an extensive survey both inside and outside of Wisconsin about the perceptions of our state.
However, Think•Make•Happen also offers to assist communities in promoting themselves in the ongoing drive to bring more business and residents to their towns. To that end, this may be an avenue the Superior’s leaders may want to explore.
ES will inquire at City Hall if any efforts have been made to this end in order to promote Superior. Should the Better City Superior initiative succeed, our community will need all the help we can get in promoting Superior to the rest of the state, the region, and the country.