WisconsinBiz 2017

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2017 E D I T I O N



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WELCOME to WisconsinBiz W


ELCOME TO THE 2017 edition of WisconsinBiz. This year, which marks our fifth annual edition, BizTimes Media’s annual look at Wisconsin’s economy gets a reboot, with a simpler, more streamlined presentation that’s more visually rich and less tied to specific constructs. Instead, WisconsinBiz will tell the stories we’re all talking about now. In addition to a cleaner, more visual design, this year we’ve divided our content into four sections – Live, Work, Lead and Learn – each representing a key aspect of living and working in Wisconsin. Within each are the stories that matter most for those who currently do business here, and those who will in the future. As always, we value your feedback and suggestions. You can contact me directly, at dan.meyer@biztimes.com. Dan Meyer, publisher

Thank you for your continued support, and for sharing our mission to celebrate Wisconsin’s economic diversity and strength. All the best, DAN MEYER PUBLISHER, BIZTIMES MEDIA





WORK 31 Foundations: Four solid reasons to do business in Wisconsin 35 Hot: 10 startups to watch 37 Now showing: Top trends in Wisconsin industry 39 Region roundup 41 D irectories: Everyone you need to know to start or grow your business


45 S tronger together: Sector hubs poise Wisconsin companies for industry leadership 48 T he middle market: Mid-sized companies fuel economic growth 50 A ll kinds of innovation: pure science to the purely practical 53 2016 Inc. 5000 Wisconsin companies


54 L ifetime achievers: Working adults forge brighter future in the classroom 56 H alf a million strong: STEM curriculum builds momentum 57

Maker Faire: Science fun time

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62 The retainers: Attracting a vibrant workforce

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64 D irectory: Wisconsin’s higher education institutions


1 Publisher’s message 4 Governor’s letter 4 Sponsor message



15 Home is where you make it 21 T he big stage: U.S. Open puts Erin Hills on the map 24 Midwest foodie Mecca 24 T he barons would be proud: Microbreweries bring craft back to beer-making 26 T he professionals: Wisconsin chefs gain national fame 27 Local matters: Small farms make a big impact 28 Don’t miss dining experiences: 5 diamonds to fresh fish 29 Let’s ride: Wisconsin is a yearround cycling paradise 30 S ide trip: Tour of America’s Dairyland race

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Full contents of WisconsinBiz 2017, plus our digital edition in magazine format at wisconsinbiz.com 2


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here is no doubt that Wisconsin has seen an economic turnaround over the last six years and, by almost every measurement, citizens and Wisconsin businesses have benefitted from the strides we’ve made since 2011. Our unemployment rate of 3.7 percent is the lowest it has been since November 2000, and more people are employed today than at any point in Wisconsin’s history. The state is in the top 10 for our workforce participation rate in the U.S. – more than five percentage points above the national figure.

Our pro-business policies have resulted in $4.7 billion in tax cuts for state businesses and resiGovernor Scott Walker dents, and our state and local tax burden is the lowest it has been in 40 years. Our tax reform policies include the adoption of the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit, which virtually eliminates the corporate income tax rate for businesses in those two industries. At the same time, we have invested more than $110 million in workforce development to help better prepare workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow. This includes $18 million in Fast Forward training grants and $9 million for youth apprenticeship programs. A dramatically improved business climate has spurred the creation of more than 200,000 private sector jobs and 50,000 new businesses since 2011 as the state’s entrepreneurs are feeling more confident about going out on their own. We are working and winning for Wisconsin. And we’re not done yet. I’m proud of the gains we’ve made in putting more people to work, reducing taxes, making government more efficient, and investing in our schools and infrastructure, but there is more that needs to be done to ensure the economic success we’ve experienced over the last six years continues. That is why the state budget I presented to the legislature calls for more investment in workforce development initiatives, the highest level of K-12 funding in our history, and a continued reduction in taxes for Wisconsin’s hard-working citizens and job creators. If our tax proposals are approved, we will provide more than $8 billion in total tax relief from 2011 – 2019. Those initiatives, combined with the efforts of business and community leaders across the state, will help ensure the state is well-positioned for success in meeting the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities of an ever-changing global economy. I look forward to working with you as we continue to move Wisconsin forward.

s we work to c o n t i n u e to strengthen and grow Wisconsin’s economy, helping businesses and communities turn possibilities into realities is at the heart of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC) mission. Whether it is working with our partners to provide capital to an entrepreneur launching a new business, assisting a Fortune 500 company seeking to Mark R. Hogan expand or establish operations in Wisconsin or helping a community revitalize its downtown, WEDC uses the power of collaboration to ensure our state thrives in a globally competitive economy. As the state’s lead economic development organization, WEDC has always worked closely with its more-than 600 partners to help fulfill the potential that exists in every region of the state. That partnership is growing stronger as WEDC and its stakeholders unite behind a new message that accentuates the unique opportunities Wisconsin offers for business, professional and personal fulfillment—Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin. Once again this year, WEDC is proud to collaborate with BizTimes Media on its annual WisconsinBiz Magazine to showcase the state’s numerous attributes, and to highlight some of the successes we are seeing in all aspects of our economy. In this publication, you will learn more about the Think-Make-Happen initiative, as well as our efforts in workforce development and in creating strong communities and successful businesses. These pages also are filled with success stories from every region of the state that illustrate how companies and communities are making a positive impact on the state’s growing economy. On behalf of all my associates at WEDC, I congratulate the business, community, academic and economic development leaders whose accomplishments are celebrated in this issue. We applaud them, as well as thousands of individuals and businesses throughout the state, for their role in helping to ensure Wisconsin’s continued economic success.






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In February 2016, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) launched the Made In Wisconsin Program to allow companies in the state to proudly proclaim the origin of the products they produce. The response has been incredible. In the program’s first year, WEDC has received 134 applications to use the label and the flow of new requests remains strong.

Throughout our history, we have shown that if you THINK big and MAKE your mark, anything can HAPPEN in Wisconsin. Think-Make-Happen— an unexpected, thought-provoking combination of words that reflect the ingenuity of Ole Evinrude, who, when faced with the prospect of crossing Okauchee Lake to deliver ice cream to his girlfriend, invented the outboard motor. This legacy was similarly brought to life by William Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson; Les Paul; Frank Lloyd Wright; Herbert Kohler and many others throughout Wisconsin’s illustrious history. And this tradition of innovation continues today, with discoveries taking place in this state that are improving lives around the world.

Why? Because “Wisconsin” means something—something very powerful. When we say that a product is made in Wisconsin, that’s saying more than just where it’s produced—it speaks to the attributes of the product itself. It is a reflection of the high quality of our natural resources and the honesty, hard work and innovative minds of our people. Think about how far we can take that idea. What if we sought to demonstrate Wisconsin’s value at every contact point with people and businesses seeking the best location to pursue their passions? That’s precisely the idea behind a unified message WEDC and economic development partners and stakeholders across the state are using to promote the unique opportunities Wisconsin offers for business, professional and personal fulfillment—ThinkMake-Happen In Wisconsin.

Generac is one of many companies in the state proudly promoting their products as “Made In Wisconsin.” Pictured from left to right: State Rep. Cody Horlacher; Tim Hearden, Sr. VP of Global Operations for Generac; State Sen. Stephen Nass; and WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan.

THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS There’s a good reason WEDC’s mission statement makes specific reference to thriving “businesses,” “communities,” and “people.” Because, really, each of these is dependent on the other two, and a strong Wisconsin requires all three. And that is why we are proud to showcase successful initiatives that are helping businesses, communities and people shine across the state, and in the process, fulfilling Wisconsin’s promise.

A national survey conducted by WEDC confirms that Wisconsin is known as a state of “thinkers, makers and doers,” and this sentiment is captured and extended in our new message. But words, we all agree, are not enough. Equally important are the positive experiences Wisconsin offers, and the social connections being developed among people committed to the state’s economic future.







QUALITY OF LIFE DRAWS MILLENNIALS The new generation of young professionals in the workforce, Millennials, tend to choose where they want to live based on a location’s features and benefits—not just on where available jobs are. Due to this trend, cities and states are adding their voice to the traditional employer-based efforts to attract workers. In Wisconsin, WEDC and its partners are exploring innovative ways to attract new talent and encourage recent graduates from Wisconsin colleges and universities to put down roots here. It’s partly a matter of understanding what Millennials value—for instance, amenities, work-life balance and a shorter commute—and adapting workplace conditions accordingly. But it’s also about communicating with them in ways that indicate they’re understood and valued.

YPWeek 2016 Madison Speaker Crawl at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

As for its people, Wisconsin, like many states, is facing a demographic challenge in its workforce, and talent attraction will play a key role in keeping Wisconsin’s economy competitive in the coming years. Therefore, WEDC is teaming up with young professional organizations throughout the state on initiatives aimed at developing ways to attract and retain the best and brightest in Wisconsin. One successful initiative is YPWeek Wisconsin, which brings together key leaders in the community at purposefully chosen locations that integrate unique cultural assets with meaningful learning or social interaction. The activities engage the Millennial workforce in conversations and experiences that are important to them while educating employers on the important role these functions play in retaining their workforce. Created by Milwaukee-based NEWaukee in 2012, YPWeek went statewide in 2015 with the support of WEDC. “Seeing what NEWaukee accomplished promoting Milwaukee as a premier destination for young professionals, we felt the same formula could be applied to other cities throughout Wisconsin,” says WEDC’s Rebecca Deschane, who helped build connections between NEWaukee and like-minded organizations across the state interested in retaining and attracting talented young people. WEDC’s investment in replicating the YPWeek platform reflects the important role Millennials have in the state’s future talent pipeline. Now in its third year and with 25 participating communities, the expansion of IEDC award-winning YPWeek Wisconsin positions the state as a national leader in Millennial engagement, dynamic workforce and leadership development and as an ideal workplace destination.





Wisconsin is an ideal location for recreation as well as business. Increasingly, companies are incorporating this sense of place into their recruitment strategies. The Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin initiative was launched by WEDC to coordinate these efforts and promote Wisconsin’s natural beauty, positive business climate and excellent quality of life. From recreational activities to cultural events, the state’s lively city centers, charming towns and picturesque rural areas hold something for everyone.

WEDC continues to work with its partners to develop strategies to help attract and retain a strong workforce. These efforts are expected to include enlisting university alumni groups in recruitment and attraction efforts and promoting Wisconsin as a great place for business, professional and personal fulfillment.

“Wisconsin isn’t just about the Badgers, the Capitol, or cows and cheese. We have vibrant city scenes and ample outdoor spaces that attract Millennials to our state. These environments help with retention of young professionals as we like to have things to do outside of our workplaces.”

Wisconsin’s unique blend of public-private partnerships help schools of all types and at all levels develop a workforce with the skills needed for companies and their employees to succeed. Looking to the future, it is imperative to ensure that workers have access to on-demand career training and that employers have a robust, skilled labor pipeline to support job growth and economic development strategies. Wisconsin is widely known for its talented people. To maintain this competitive advantage, we are investing in a wide variety of workforce development initiatives. From academic and career planning in our schools to promoting internship opportunities and expanding training grants, collaboration ensures that our most valuable asset—our people—have the resources they need to be successful. In addition to partnering to develop strategies to attract and retain talent, businesses and supporting organizations are working together throughout the state to advance industry innovation. Businesses in Wisconsin are benefitting from a collaborative environment that finds solutions to their specific challenges—solutions that are driven by an industry cluster strategy, which supports and strengthens each sector in Wisconsin.

– Corinn Ploessl, Wisconsin Young Professional

Wisconsin’s natural beauty, traditions and culture bring unique and rewarding experiences. InWisconsin.com


MAKE CHOICES. SUPPORT FROM THE STATE CAN HELP DRIVE BUSINESS SUCCESS One of the keys to ensuring that Wisconsin’s economy remains strong is providing companies of all sizes and all industries with the resources and assistance they need to help their businesses grow. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to providing that support, however. Every business and each industry has its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, and helping them overcome those challenges and maximize the opportunities requires a wide array of solutions. As a public-private entity, WEDC has the flexibility to tailor its programs and services to meet the ever-changing needs of the state’s business community. Whether it’s investing in a small startup or providing assistance to a global corporation expanding in Wisconsin, WEDC provides resources to help companies continue to move the state’s economy forward.




Wisconsin is an established leader in key industries including manufacturing; water technology; energy, power and control; aerospace and aviation; food processing; and bioscience, but ensuring the state remains at the forefront of those emerging and established sectors can’t be left to chance. That’s why the state has developed a long-term strategy that focuses on the key industries that have the greatest promise for future growth, and works with companies, statewide and regional industry associations, educational institutions at all levels and others to support and strengthen those vital sectors. A key facet of that strategy involves the development of “centers of excellence” to support those driver industries. Spearheading the effort to establish those centers is WEDC, which works closely with industry leaders to create an environment that spurs research and development, encourages startup formation and growth, advances product commercialization and attracts new companies and business investment to the state. The state’s industry development strategy also includes specialized assistance programs administered by the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, which helps small and midsize manufacturers throughout Wisconsin implement practices to increase operational performance and improve global competitiveness and profitability. Wisconsin’s commitment to its manufacturing future is reflected in grants WEDC has made to school districts throughout the state to build or expand fabrication laboratories that will provide students with valuable technical, creative and entrepreneurial job skills.

“From water technology and food processing to energy, power and control, companies in Wisconsin that recognize their mutual dependency and have formed partnerships to address common challenges are thriving and creating new economic opportunities.” - Lee Swindall, Vice President, Sector Strategy Development, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Recognizing that the strongest industries are those that have the ability to adapt in a sometimes turbulent economy, the state also is working with the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and 20 other partners to help create greater economic diversity in the region. WEDC received a $3.1 million Department of Defense grant to support Initiative 41, which brings together businesses, governments, universities and technical colleges to spur economic development, entrepreneurship and industry diversification along the Interstate 41 corridor and be less susceptible to declines in defense spending.


HELPING BUSINESSES START, GROW AND REACH NEW MARKETS WEDC provides an array of programs and services designed to help Wisconsin companies at every stage of their development. Startup companies can benefit from Qualified New Business Venture Certification, which provides a 25 percent state tax credit for individuals who invest in qualified startups. Another program suited for earlystage companies is WEDC’s Technology Development Loan Program, which is aimed at businesses that provide high-tech or innovative solutions with national or global market potential. Growth-oriented companies are eager to expand their facilities in order to take advantage of market opportunities, and such companies often consider alternative locations for their operational expansion projects. WEDC works with those businesses to help them meet their growth objectives in Wisconsin, ensuring that retained and new jobs, along with new capital investments, will benefit the state’s economy. WEDC also helps Wisconsin companies achieve their growth potential by developing export strategies. From trade ventures around the world to intensive training through the ExporTech™ Program, WEDC provides the tools, resources, connections and on-the-ground contacts necessary for Wisconsin companies to build and execute successful targeted international growth strategies.


PRO-BUSINESS CLIMATE, DEDICATED WORKFORCE ATTRACT COMPANIES TO WISCONSIN When executives at Vonco Products, a leading manufacturer of high-performance flexible packaging and promotional products, realized they had outgrown their existing facility in northern Illinois, they looked at numerous options before deciding their next step. They could have expanded the existing facility in Lake Villa, Ill., or found another site in Illinois or another state. Company leaders ultimately chose to relocate to Wisconsin, announcing their decision in October. Vonco’s new home: the Town of Salem in Kenosha County. “In the end, it became clear that Wisconsin was the best alternative for the long-term competitiveness of the company,” explained Vonco President Keith Smith. “It came down to Salem and Wisconsin because of the favorable business climate and better long-term economics.” A pro-business climate, a reliable infrastructure, a skilled workforce, a world-class education system and an outstanding quality of life are just some of the reasons that companies like Vonco are choosing to establish or expand their operations in Wisconsin. The state, through the efforts of WEDC and its local and regional economic development partners, makes certain the competitive advantages of Wisconsin are inarguably clear and convincing to companies considering their options for future growth. Not only do WEDC and its partners respond quickly to companies seeking sites for expansion and relocation, they also proactively recruit targeted companies by identifying their unique needs, delivering solid data supporting the decision to locate in Wisconsin and developing a competitive incentive package. Those efforts are clearly paying off as more than a dozen out-of-state companies have either established operations in Wisconsin or announced plans to do so since 2014. Those companies include The Little Potato Company, a Canadian business that is establishing its U.S. headquarters in DeForest; Dollar General, one of the nation’s largest small-box discount retailers, which is building a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Janesville; and the Solomon Corp., a Kansasbased electrical transformer company that selected Prairie du Chien for the home of its northern Midwest operations after considering sites in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. In addition to Wisconsin’s pro-business climate, companies are choosing to locate or expand in communities throughout the state that also offer opportunities for social engagement—key for both business and talent attraction. In Wisconsin, we invest in our communities because this investment fuels business growth throughout the state.

“In the end, it became clear that Wisconsin was the best alternative for the long-term competitiveness of the company.” - Keith Smith, President, Vonco Products



HAPPEN HERE. WORKING TOGETHER FOR VIBRANT COMMUNITIES In Wisconsin, we are defined by a spirit of community, and driven by a desire to keep our cities alive and vibrant— places where people can find personal and professional fulfillment. The best ideas for how to do this come from the communities themselves. WEDC, in turn, acts as a connector, so that communities can learn from others that have faced similar challenges, and as an adviser, providing technical assistance and information about best practices to help communities implement creative ideas successfully. Through the Wisconsin Main Street Program, communities receive training and support in implementing the four-point Main Street approach of design, organization, economic vitality and promotion. The Connect Communities Program provides networking and technical assistance for downtown revitalization efforts in communities that do not yet have the resources for a full-time downtown organization; this program can also serve as a stepping stone to get communities ready for Main Street membership.




The transformation of downtown La Crosse illustrates what is possible with public-private partnerships and a dedicated and organized group of supporters. Created by a public-private partnership in 1990, Downtown Mainstreet Inc. of La Crosse spearheaded the creation of a master plan to address the economic deterioration of the city’s historic district. Early preservation efforts led to the completion of a $2.9 million river levee project that not only protects the downtown from flooding, but also includes a riverwalk for the public to enjoy.

“Being a designated Wisconsin Main Street community has opened many doors for networking, resources and collaboration throughout the state. Learning best practices and sharing our successes with other communities has helped not only our organization, but many downtown businesses.” – Robin Moses, Executive Director, Downtown Mainstreet Inc. of La Crosse

Over the next 12 years, the district gained 170 new residential units. More than 100 building and storefront façade restorations were undertaken, resulting in an increase of $40 million in assessed property values. Major high-tech corporations were recruited to locate downtown; as a result, employment in the district is at an all-time high, even surpassing the historic peaks of the 1950s and 60s. La Crosse received a prestigious Great American Main Street Award in 2002, and the positive momentum has only grown since then. After participating in Connect Communities, the city gained admission to the Main Street Program in 2014. Today, La Crosse is one of the largest National Register Commercial Historic Districts in Wisconsin, containing 96 contributing buildings. The downtown district is known for its arts scene, with the Weber Center for the Performing Arts and the popular annual Artspire event. In all, the projects currently under way are valued at $191 million, and are expected to add nearly 400 new hotel rooms, 246 residential units, and 145,000 new square feet of commercial space, and to generate more than $22 million in additional consumer activity.


REINVENTING HISTORIC PROPERTIES FOR THE MODERN ECONOMY Wisconsin takes pride in its strong manufacturing tradition. As times change and the economy evolves, WEDC can play a role in helping communities adapt and find productive reuse for properties that have fallen into disuse or need updates to make them suitable for modern business operations, helping these properties once again become active and productive contributors to the local economy. The Idle Sites Redevelopment Program provides funds for redevelopment of large commercial or industrial sites that have been idle, abandoned or underutilized for a period of at least five years. The Community Development Investment Grant Program supports shovel-ready projects, with an emphasis on downtown community-driven efforts in urban, small city and rural communities. The Brownfields and Site Assessment Grant Programs help communities document environmental hazards and conduct remediation activities on abandoned, idle or underutilized industrial or commercial properties.


COMMUNITY COLLABORATION GIVES BLIGHTED FACTORY NEW LIFE From 1858 to 1999, Beloit Corporation was one of the largest employers in the area, with more than 1,000 workers in its foundry at the height of operations. The company was a household name in the paper industry, and was the only producer of pulp and paper machinery in North America in its last two decades. But in 2000, the company filed for bankruptcy. The company was acquired and the foundry shut down; the property fell into disrepair. Aside from the loss of 1,000 direct jobs, other foundries, manufacturers and even nearby restaurants and retail establishments suffered. The site, known as the Ironworks Campus, was acquired by Hendricks Commercial Properties, which saw the potential for redevelopment. After more than a decade of work, the project is scheduled for completion in 2017. The iconic property’s reinvention was accomplished through collaboration among local and state partners including the City of Beloit, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and WEDC, which provided a Brownfields Grant for initial remediation as well as an Idle Sites Redevelopment Grant to fund renovations. With more than 1 million square feet of modern leasable space, it already holds 14 tenants, including IT firm Comply365 and a YMCA. The Ironworks Campus has also added more than 700 jobs to the area, and is expected to add a total of 5,000 when the property is at full occupancy.

“The transformation of the Ironworks from a vacant industrial site to a vibrant mixed-use facility that is attracting some of the most desirable types of high-tech and high-growth industries is an unprecedented success story.” – Andrew Janke, Economic Development Director, City of Beloit


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AT HOME in Wisconsin Diverse housing options are key to attracting workforce talent BY LEAH CALL

Whether it’s a loft apartment in historic downtown La Crosse, a condominium overlooking the Fox River or a bungalow in one of the hip, walkable neighborhoods in Milwaukee, housing stock throughout Wisconsin is abundant, diverse and affordable.




According to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the median home price statewide is $165,000. “When you look at affordability for the nation,” said David Clark, executive associate dean for the College of Business Administration at Marquette University, the least costly areas are the Midwest and the South. Wisconsin is actually more affordable than the Midwest average.”

DIVERSITY GALORE “We’re very lucky to live in an area that has such a great variety of architectural styles,” said Jaime Kristof, a realtor at Wauwatosa’s Firefly Real Estate, of the diverse mix of housing in Milwaukee. Kristof noted the city’s bungalow homes with hip roofs, leaded glass doors and windows, covered porches, stained-glass builtin dining room buffets and swinging butler doors, all hallmarks of the bungalow style. “The natural woodwork, hardwood floors and coved ceilings make bungalows a great pick if a buyer likes that ‘o ld world’ feeling,” she said. Homebuyers targeting Milwaukee’s bungalow neighborhoods are typically in their late 20s and 30s. 16


“They’re looking for a sense of community; the ability to walk their kids to school or a restaurant, ride their bikes to the park,” Kristof said. “Many buyers in this age group are tired of living in apartments and want to have a yard for the dog now. They want a sense of belonging.” While some Milwaukee-area homeowners prefer the charm of the bungalow, others flock to Cape Cods, Queen Anne Victorians or mid-century modern homes on the city’s east side and north shore. Eau Claire also boasts a rich mix of housing stock, some with features unique to the area. “Originally, Eau Claire was a lumber town, so we have quite a few of the old lumber mansions – housing with the look distinct to the lumber era. A lot of that is in the third ward district, fairly close to the university,” said Mike Schatz, economic development director for the City of Eau Claire. “Then we have the traditional upscale neighborhoods, highvalue homes. We have quite a few of multifamily areas, starter neighborhoods with a lot of young families. We have the historic RanA product of BizTimes Media

Wauwatosa bungalows are charming inside and out.

dall Park neighborhood, and there’s development around golf courses.” DOWNTOWN LIVING Statewide, the demographics drawn to city centers are young professionals eager to be part of the downtown vibe, and empty nesters looking to downsize and live closer to restaurants, shopping and entertainment. In La Crosse, there are currently about 1,000 residential units in the downtown footprint, with many more in the vicinity of downtown. La Crosse expects 500 additional units to be added in the downtown district in 2017. Belle Square, a recently completed, $68 million mixed-use project in downtown La Crosse, includes 96 housing units. “Those new apartments are now on the market. They are beautiful studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, some of them overlooking the river right in the heart of downtown. That is kind of raising the bar for housing in that area,” said Robin Moses, executive director of Downtown Mainstreet Inc. wisconsinbiz.com

Many Victorian homes retain their character today.



Above: Shared office space within the RiverHeath development and the view from RiverHeath condos along the Fox River. Right: One of two buildings at the RiverHeath development along the Fox River.

Whether historic, chic modern or warehouse style, condominiums are the downtown dwelling of choice for many. “Condos are a great fit for those who perhaps travel for work and appreciate the conveniences of condo living, close to nightlife and recreational activities along the lake,” Kristof said.

In Madison, the downtown condo market is competitive, notes Dan Breunig, a realtor for Lake & City Homes in Madison. “Condos are where it’s at downtown, perhaps because all the single-family homes are either quite expensive or are student rentals,” he said. Breunig noted that employees of major Madison employer Epic Systems Corp. in Verona rival the student population in their demand for downtown living space. “These Epic employees are recent graduates of universities nationwide and

are not quite ready to give up the campus lifestyle. That’s why there is high demand for upscale condos and rentals downtown,” Breunig said. Downtown is also the place to be in northeast Wisconsin, where both Appleton and Green Bay have added housing to their downtown areas. In Appleton, a mix of apartments and condos along the Fox River occupy land once used by manufacturers. RiverHeath is a mixed-use development featuring businesses and co-working space, as well as apartments



















Source: Wisconsin Realtors Association, October 2016 18


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HGA Architects and Engineers Celebrating 30 Years in Wisconsin HGA is a firm driven by a legacy of curiosity, empathy, hard work and originality in the Wisconsin community and beyond. MILWAUKEE MINNEAPOLIS







www.hga.com Pictured clockwise from top: Milwaukee Public Library - East Branch, Milwaukee WI; ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center - Appleton WI; Marquette University - College of Engineering, Milwaukee WI; Schreiber Foods - Home Office and Global Technology Center, Green Bay WI; Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, Milwaukee WI

The Moderne in downtown Milwaukee has luxury condos and apartments, plus Carson's Ribs on the first floor.

and condos with high-end finishes and floorto-ceiling windows overlooking the river. Residents are drawn to the site’s natural beauty – eagles are frequently seen gliding along the river – and also to its proximity to downtown Appleton and Lawrence University. “ You are within walking distance of Lawrence University and shops and restaurants, and at the same time you are in this beautiful natural sanctuary with the river and the trails and the park,” said Mark Geall, principal at RiverHeath developer Tanesay Development. In downtown Green Bay, Metreau Apartments and Platten Place are the two newest condo offers, but developers are looking at more ways to take advantage of Fox River views and a revived downtown. As Green Bay, Ashwaubenon and the Green Bay Packers invest millions into the new Titletown District around Lambeau Field, Kevin Vonck, City of Green Bay economic development director, said the area east of Lambeau Field – known as the Legends District – is garnering attention. “It is another alternative for those who want to live close to amenities, live close to entertainment centers, so we will be work20


ing on plans to attract developers to that area,” he said. SELLER’S MARKET Ryan Fulcer, regional vice president at Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group, which covers a large portion of northeast and central Wisconsin, said it is definitely a seller’s market.

“It used to be everyone wanted some place out in the country with a couple of acres,” he said. “Now, more are moving back into town and wanting to be closer to churches, shops, schools. I’m not sure if it’s a convenience factor or if the winters around here take a toll and people don’t want to deal with the extra work of living in the country.” As trends, markets and preferences change across the state, housing remains a quality-of-life factor important to attracting and retaining an area’s workforce.

“Attracting people to your community is the No. 1 factor in filling jobs… They want to live in a place that is affordable, cool and safe.” — Mike Schatz, economic development director, Eau Claire

“We are low on good inventory of homes. There’s not a lot available,” he said. “We are seeing more step-up buyers – not new homebuyers – so these are people selling their homes and looking for something bigger.” Fulcer has noticed an interesting trend: people want to be closer to cities.

“Attracting people to your community is the No. 1 factor in filling jobs,” Schatz said. “We spend a lot more time in economic development now recruiting people and talent, not just recruiting businesses. Housing plays a role in people’s choice. They want to live in a place that is affordable, cool and safe.” A product of BizTimes Media


THE BIG STAGE U.S. Open will put Erin Hills on golf world’s map BY ANDREW WEILAND

Wisconsin has been a regular host for championship professional golf in recent years. But until now, the Kohler Co.’s golf courses in Sheboygan County have dominated the spotlight. Whistling Straits was the site of the PGA Championship in 2004, 2010 and 2015. Blackwolf Run hosted the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 and 2012. This year, it’s Erin Hills’ turn. In June, the wisconsinbiz.com

public golf course in southwestern Washington County – about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee – will host the U.S. Open, perhaps the biggest championship event in men’s professional golf (its $12 million in total prize money is the highest purse). It will be the first time the U.S. Open is held in Wisconsin. A NATURAL BEAUTY “We are especially looking forward

to bringing the U.S. Open to Erin Hills,” said Stuart Francis, United States Golf Association (USGA) Championship Committee chairman. “It’s an American original with immense natural beauty that will have the chance to showcase itself as one of the premier facilities in the nation.” Erin Hills, which opened in 2006, was developed by Robert Lang, former owner of The Lang Cos. Its site, the Kettle Moraine, was 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ


sculpted by glaciers more than 20,000 years ago, and golf course architects Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten made few changes to its undulating topography when designing Erin Hills. “There is a wonderful feel to Erin Hills, both completely connected to its natural environment and challenging, with architectural nuances that entice players to be creative and competitive,” said Mike Davis, executive director and chief executive officer of the USGA. “I compare Erin Hills to some of the great U.S. Open sites, like Shinnecock (Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York), Pebble Beach (Golf Links in Monterey County, Cali-

fornia) and Oakmont (Country Club near Pittsburgh). This stands up with all of them.” Lang sold Erin Hills in 2009 to Andrew Ziegler, co-founder of Milwaukee-based money management firm Artisan Partners, who made improvements to the course that were necessary for it to host the U.S. Open. “I am biased, but I think it will be the most important sporting event in the history of the state,” Ziegler said in 2010 when the USGA awarded the U.S. Open to his course. Erin Hills has been closed since early October and will not reopen until the U.S. Open practice rounds begin. Ziegler wanted it to be in pristine condition for the tournament. The U.S. Open will establish Erin Hills as

a national golf destination; the course was recently ranked 44th best in the U.S. by Golf Digest magazine. The tournament will be nationally telecast by the FOX Network and Fox Sports 1. It will span the week of June 12-18, including four tournament days, plus practice round days. More than 35,000 spectators are expected to attend each day of the tournament. BIG ECONOMIC IMPACT Visit Milwaukee says the U.S. Open will have a $60 million economic impact on the Milwaukee metropolitan area, and the USGA says the economic impact on the southeastern Wisconsin region will be $125 million.

T H E J O U R N E Y M A N . . . A N E W D E S T I N AT I O N L U X U R Y A C C O M M O D AT I O N S I N T H E H I S T O R I C T H I R D WA R D

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If the tournament is a success, the U.S. Open could return to Erin Hills in the future, which would provide another boost for the state’s economy and further build the national reputation of the golf course. The event also presents unique opportunities for Wisconsin businesses to entertain clients in style, with prices ranging from about $9,000 for a one-day corporate table at one of the six holes offering hospitality tents, to $325,000 for a platinum premier tent package on the 18th hole. Bethesda, Maryland-based Ridgewells Catering will provide the food, sourcing many ingredients from local companies. “What’s unique about our championship as opposed to, say, the Super Bowl, which is only one night, (is at the U.S. Open) you can really talk with your corporate patrons, your business prospects. You can really spend quality time with them,” said Janeen Driscoll, director of public relations for the USGA. BIG NEWS FOR WISCONSIN GOLFERS The U.S. Open isn’t the only major golf news in Wisconsin this year. The LPGA Tour will come to Wisconsin in 2017, with the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic held from July 3-9 at the Thornberry Creek

Patio overlooking Erin Hills golf course.

at Oneida golf course near Green Bay. Business leaders in the state looking for an elite golf experience, either for themselves or to entertain clients, will enjoy yet another option this year with the much-anticipated opening of Sand Valley Golf Resort near

Nekoosa in central Wisconsin. Sand Valley is being developed by Mike Keiser, who also developed the acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.


Your ticket to golf history awaits! usopen.com

© 2017 United States Golf Association











Wisconsin's brewing legacy supports a thriving craft culture


It’s no surprise that Wisconsin knows its beer. In the mid- to late-1800s, beer barons from Germany discovered fertile ground in the Dairy State, founding breweries such as Schlitz, Miller, Blatz and Pabst. Fast forward to 2017 and the fervor continues – with a modern twist. Today’s distilleries and microbreweries in Wisconsin are committed to staying small and artisanal, riffing on the farm-to-table movement already adopted by restaurants. There’s a face to the brewery or distillery – and production happens in small batches. 24



founder Peter Nomm says a steady stream of tourists and vacation home owners keep his Minocqua business humming in this Northwoods town. Founded three years ago, Northern Waters operates a tasting room – not legal in all states, but thankfully allowed in Wisconsin. “When you sell it on site, your margins are a lot better because you don’t lose money to the middleman,” Nomm said. He’s chosen not to contract with a distributor and to intentionally stay small. Each

of the 14 spirits (including a gin, a corn-based whiskey and a vodka) is only sold through the tasting room. To grow or not to grow is the dilemma Green Bay’s HINTERLAND BREWERY faced. Founded in 1995, its 9,000-square-foot facility will soon expand to 25,000 square feet at a new location in the Titletown District, a 34-acre project in development next to Lambeau Field. Completion is scheduled for fall of 2017. “We’re selling more beer in Wisconsin than we ever have before,” said president and A product of BizTimes Media

1: Third Space Brewing 2: Andy Gehl, co-founder and director of sales and marketing at Third Space Brewing 3: Bill Tressler, owner, brewer at Hinterland 4: Hinterland Black Friday 5: Nicholas Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz, co-founders of Bittercube 6: Bittercube bitters being



added to a cocktail.

5 6 owner Bill Tressler. “I’ve even had to pull out of some states in order to fulfill our market.” Wisconsinites prefer to drink local, said Tressler: “It’s become more provincial than in the past. There’s a shift from state beer to neighborhood beer. In different U.S. markets, like Portland, Oregon, craft beer’s share surpasses 50 percent of the market.” Among the eight microbreweries that opened in Milwaukee in 2016 is THIRD SPACE BREWING.

“The saturation point is well into the future. I think we could see another eight to 10 breweries open here,” owner Andy Gehl, 37, said. (Business partner Kevin Wright is 35.) “Milwaukee missed the craft brewing revolution in the ’90s and ’00s that every major city in America had.” wisconsinbiz.com

Open since September, Third Space has pledged to add a new beer each month. Like Nomm, Gehl believes in the taproom: “It makes it easier for small breweries to survive. We’re right in front of their faces in that taproom.” Low real estate costs and easy freeway access enticed the duo to move into the 11,000-square-foot facility in the Menomonee Valley, just south of downtown. “We wanted to plan for growth… (with) a large facility to grow into,” Gehl said. Simple economics are the reason BITTERCUBE opted to produce its line of bitters in Wisconsin – first in Madison, before shifting to Milwaukee in 2014 and finally making its headquarters in a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in the Bay View neighborhood. A distillery license in Minnesota costs six

times more and Chicago real estate is more expensive, said co-founder Ira Koplowitz. His business partner, Nicholas Kosevich, resides in Minneapolis. In the beginning, Bittercube distributed solely in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota; now it is in 30 states, plus Canada, Italy and Australia. “Craft brewing was where it went mainstream,” said Koplowitz. “Distilling was the last frontier.” Consumers’ curiosity about sourcing is one factor fueling annual growth of between 35 and 50 percent, according to Koplowitz. “People want to know where their beer comes from and that their bitters are made with natural ingredients,” he said. 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ











Culinary job market booms as Wisconsin gains dining fame


Tory Miller’s advice for today’s culinary graduates in Wisconsin: Leave Wisconsin… and come back. As chef-owner of four Madison restaurants – L’Etoile, Graze, Sujeo and Estrellón – the James Beard Award-winning chef (“Best Chef-Midwest” in 2012) sees participating in other environments to learn about culinary trends beyond the Dairy State as the best resume booster. While the cost of travel can be a financial barrier for many people, “nothing informs more than traveling,” said Miller, and “if 26


you’re 19- to 21-years old coming out of culinary school, you can still search out internships abroad. It’s an investment. If you go to regular undergrad, you’re in there for five years.” Most culinary programs last two or three years. Taking time to travel and work in other cities can lead to a higher paying job back in Wisconsin, and even the ability for sous chef positions, according to Miller. “A lot of culinary grads haven’t traveled,” he said, “…to Chicago, California or New

York City for the culinary meccas.” Miller, who grew up in Racine, knows firsthand how valuable leaving the state is. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, N.Y., campus he planned to return to Wisconsin, but at the advice of others spent five years working in a New York City restaurant. This sweetened his resume when he finally returned to Wisconsin, a state that’s now a hotbed for James Beard Award nominees, as well as restaurants gaining national traction. A product of BizTimes Media


Steve Pincus of Tipi Produce in Evansville shares his CSA tips at a MOSES Organic Field Day.


LOCAL FOOD A HIGH PRIORITY FOR CONSUMERS, RETAILERS Big or small farm? Store shelf or CSA box? Whatever route, Wisconsin consumers have the best of all food worlds. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Wisconsin had 32,193 farms that harvested fewer than 100 acres of cropland in 2012, said Bill Brancel, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

1: Tory Miller, chef-owner of four Madison restaurants 2: Charentais Melon from L'Etoile 3: Dave Swanson, chef-owner of Braise, Milwaukee 4: Braise interior

In 2014, The New York Times published a travel story about where to eat in the Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee, and that same year a Conde Nast Traveler story chatted up Madison’s best restaurants. “We are the capital of the farm-to-table movement,” said Paul Short, program chair of the culinary arts program at Madison Area Technical College (MATC). “That is a big deal with chefs around the country.” This tradition is anchored, he said, by chefs shopping at the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, which is the country’s largest. And Wisconsin ranks second only to California in its number of organic farms. The program has more than its share of grads who are James Beard Award-nominated wisconsinbiz.com

“Wisconsin needs farms of every size and type to be economically strong. The marketplace is very diverse, with no end to the products our customers are looking to buy. Farmers with smaller-scale operations have a unique ability to meet their local market,” Brancel said. “Whether they market direct off the farm, at a roadside stand, through community-supported agriculture (CSA) or at a farmers market, these farmers can connect with the customer face-to-face, which a segment of our society desires.” “We all eat. That’s why a strong and growing agriculture economy is important to everyone,” said Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. “Farms of all sizes contribute to Wisconsin’s $88 billion agricultural economy. No matter your role in the agricultural community, everyone plays a part in providing families with a healthy and abundant food supply.” Wisconsin has around 1,700 organic farms, some as small as one acre medicinal herb operations, said Harriet Behar, senior organic specialist with Spring Valley’s Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service. She does not believe CSAs compete with traditional groceries, as there are many foods CSAs do not provide. FairShare CSA Coalition in Madison has roughly 55 endorsed CSA farms serving

much of the state. Many of FairShare's farms sell to restaurants or wholesale customers, according to FairShare executive director Erika Jones. For Jones, joining a CSA farm allows consumers to know the farmer who grows their food, to learn what kinds of practices the farm uses and to see food being grown. “This provides peace of mind and a sense of transparency in the food system,” she said. The Wisconsin Grocers Association has about 1,000 members, including independent operations, corporate chain stores, convenience stores, warehouse suppliers, distributors and vendors. “No question about it. Large chains, both corporate and independent, place a heavy focus on local foods. Roundy’s has a significant commitment to their local suppliers, as do Meijer’s, Woodman’s, Festival and single-store operators across the state,” said Brandon Scholz, WGA president. Buying from and partnering with local growers and suppliers is not new and is certainly not limited to a few retailers, according to Scholz. The WGA has worked with the Something Special From Wisconsin program for a decade or more, and has strongly supported Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin. However, he adds that working with small farmers presents a challenge for grocers and other buyers who require a degree of certainty in planning, needing to know the consistency of product quality and quantity, as well as pricing. Scholz added that as long as consumers want local products, grocers and farmers will find a way to get those products to them. “Grocery stores and local foods make a great partnership,” he said. — Martin Hintz 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ


chefs including; Justin Carlisle (Ardent in Milwaukee), Nick Johnson (43 North and Restaurant Magnus in Madison) and Francesco Mangano (Osterio Papavero in Madison). CAREERS BEYOND THE BACK OF THE HOUSE Short encourages students to look beyond the restaurant scene, however. Every year he takes students on a field trip to Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, for a taste of what it’s like to cook in an unconventional setting, and where one of his former students is the sous chef. “We’re now seeing places like retirement homes, large companies like Epic and UWMadison, offering really great jobs with good

pay and benefits,” he says, adding that these are ideal for those who prefer daytime work or fewer hours. “It’s a paradigm shift, to work at those companies, for a 40-hour work week, a living wage and benefits.” Still, for those who yearn to cook in a restaurant, there’s never been a better time. “With dining styles changing (to favor small plates), kitchen structures have adapted, allowing a more collaborative approach compared to the older French brigade system,” says chef-owner Dave Swanson of Braise in Milwaukee, himself a 2016 James Beard Award semi-finalist. “This has shortened a cook’s learning curve, allowing them to go out on their own much sooner.” Because of this collaborative approach,

cooks need to include pastries, bread-making, butchering and wine knowledge in their repertoire, says Swanson. Job seekers should also explore opportunities in the front of the house. There’s a need, Miller says, for restaurant professionals “… to be passionate about restaurants but not be in the kitchen.” This concept has been overlooked in every city, he says, except for New York City, where a host, hostess or dining room manager stays in that same position for many years and treats it like a career. “We have to run the floor every night,” says Miller. “We can’t just rely on college students.” Short agrees. “There’s just not enough help out there. We have more opportunities for our graduates than ever before,” he says.


Snug in the company town of Kohler, THE IMMIGRANT RESTAURANT scores high for its posh factor. The state’s only AAA fivediamond restaurant marries nicely with The American Club’s spa, golf courses and luxury overnight accommodations. Dinner starts with sushi and picks from one of the state’s lengthiest cheese lists in the Winery Bar before moving into six houselike, low-ceilinged rooms (each named for early Wisconsin settlers) for the main event, with dishes like red snapper with candied shitakes –paired with a 33page wine list.



The country’s first true farm-to-table restaurant was born in 1976, when Odessa Piper opened L’ETOILE on Madison’s Capitol Square, doing all her menu shopping at the weekly farmers market. Since handing the apron over to Tory Miller (her sous chef) in 2005, the acclaim continues. Choose from an à la carte menu or a seven-course chef’s tasting menu that’s true to the season, featuring Wisconsingrown items like Blue Valley Gardens duck with persimmon, cuitlacoche and pancetta. Special dinners roll out the red carpet, including a recent “Cellar Gems” wine dinner series with truffle-and-chestnut ravioli and Wisconsin’s own SarVecchio cheese.

The quiet resort town of Bayfield hugs Lake Superior and attracts paddlers and hikers to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Foodies know to park their sunburned, happy faces for dinner at the LANDMARK RESTAURANT. Tucked into a Victorian-era dining room, Landmark resides within the Old Rittenhouse Inn, perched on a hillside with Lake Superior views. Executive chef Matt Chingo whips up eclectic dinner dishes using local ingredients like apples, berries, meats and fish (whitefish taquitos and trout piccata are two examples) for a memorable multi-course affair – paired with one of the town’s best wine lists.

When La Crosse got its first boutique hotel (The Charmant) in 2016, an eclectic fine-dining option came along, too. Dubbed THE RESTAURANT, classic French cooking techniques and a farm-totable philosophy result in all-day fare that begins with brioche French toast with local apples and maple syrup at dawn and winds down with coq au vin and pot de crème at dusk. The “pick two” lunch option is wildly popular with locals, with rotating picks for sandwiches, salads and soups. On warm days and nights, an al fresco patio is open, overlooking the mighty Mississippi.

For too long, Asian food in the Midwest has been relegated to casual dining. Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite strove to change that with DANDAN, which opened in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward last summer. Delicacies like Peking duck bump up against seafood pancakes on the menu, a veritable love letter to the owners’ adoration of true Chinese food. Proof of the Dans’ ingenuity is the more recent launch of EsterEv, a 10-course tasting menu Thursday through Saturday in the private dining room.

— Kristine Hansen A product of BizTimes Media



A year-round cycling paradise

BY LEAH CALL Above: Road riders in the Ride Across Wisconsin. Below: Off-road bicycling.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, bicycling has a $133 billion annual economic impact nationally, with some 60 million bicyclists across the country. In Wisconsin, an expansive bike trail system and hundreds of bike-related events keep residents pedaling year-round, while beckoning tourists to join in the fun. Last year, 17 Wisconsin communities made the League of American Bicyclists’ list of the top bicycle-friendly communities in the nation – and Madison led the way as one of just five communities in the country to receive a platinum rating. Wisconsin consistently lands in the top 10 on the League’s ranking of bike-friendly states. While Wisconsin is a great place for bicyclists, the cycling industry is also great for Wisconsin, home to Trek Bicycle Corp., Pacific Cycle Group, Waterford Precision Cycles USA, Saris Cycling Group and hundreds of other bicycle-related businesses. A University of Wisconsin-Madison study in 2010 suggested the overall economic impact wisconsinbiz.com

of the bicycling industry on Wisconsin is about $1.5 billion per year, supporting about 14,000 jobs, and contributing an estimated $535 million in annual tourist spending. Bicyclists truly experience Wisconsin during the many bicycling events throughout the year, including the Ride Across Wisconsin, a one-day, 175-mile ride from Dubuque, Iowa, to Kenosha. Organized by the Wisconsin Bike Federation, RAW last year drew 873 riders from 21 states. RAW 2017 will take place Aug. 26, with a two-day option that includes a stay-over in Beloit. A RIDE FOR EVERYONE “The great thing about Wisconsin is that no matter how you enjoy riding a bicycle, we have a place to do it,” said Dave Cieslewicz, executive director of the Wisconsin Bike Federation, the country’s largest statewide bicycle organization. For road riders, Wisconsin’s paved country roads offer light traffic and challenging topography.

“A lot of what we enjoy today as bicyclists is thanks to the dairy industry. Many of the rural roads were paved to make sure milk trucks could get to farms,” said Cieslewicz. The state’s 41 bike trails, totaling more than 2,000 miles, offer a network of dedicated biking trails. Thirty-seven of the 41 trails are rail trails, including the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, created in 1967, the first rails-to-trails conversion in the nation. Riders enjoy the splendor of southwest Wisconsin and the thrill of riding through three rock tunnels on this 32-mile route built on the abandoned Chicago & North Western Railway. Wisconsin has an abundance of off-road trails for mountain bikers of all abilities. The Chequamegon Area Mountain Biking Association trails in the Cable/Hayward area recently received Ride Center designation by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. “That organization has only recognized 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ



Above: One of three tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. Right: A biker on a fat bike at the Solstice Chase, Great Lakes Fat Bike Series in St. Croix Falls.

Racers in Tour of America’s Dairyland 2016.

TOUR OF AMERICA’S DAIRYLAND 2017 marks the ninth year of the Tour of America’s Dairyland, a 10-day racing series that takes place in southeastern Wisconsin June 15 to 25. It’s the largest competitive road cycling event in the U.S., drawing more than 1,000 riders last year from 42 states and 16 countries. ToAD also draws 130,000 to 150,000 spectators who take part in festivities – kids’ races, music, food and fun – in communities hosting the races. “Our tag line is ‘bike race in a box,’” said ToAD organizer Bill Koch. “We bring the race, the riders, we register the riders, we do the prize purses, we bring series sponsors, and the community puts on a local event.” Though the criterium races are open to riders of all levels, Koch suggested, “You might have to have some experience riding in a group. These fields have anywhere from 40 to 140 riders, and you are riding in very close proximity to each other. Riding elbow-to-elbow with someone at 20 to 30 miles an hour is a pretty cool experience. It is the absolute thrill of a lifetime.” 30


a couple dozen destinations throughout the world as Ride Centers,” noted David Spiegelberg, regional tourism specialist for the state Department of Tourism. “That’s a big deal in the mountain biking world.” Future trail development includes the Route of the Badger in southeastern Wisconsin, proposed by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The Route of the Badger would connect existing rail trails in seven southeastern Wisconsin counties – Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha – to create an ultimate biking destination. “That could be promoted on a national level to entice people to come to Wisconsin with their bicycle for town-to-town riding, city-to-city riding, all on designated trails,” explained Spiegelberg. YEAR-ROUND RECREATION Winter is a cold, snowy reality in Wisconsin, but it’s no reason for cyclists to give up the biking habit. “Wisconsin leads the country in winter fat bike trail development and also fat bike events,” noted Spiegelberg. A fat bike is an off-road bicycle with 4-inch or larger tires that enables riders to travel over soft surfaces, including snow. Though fat bikes are used off-road year-round, the premier winter biking event and largest fat bike event in the country is Hayward’s Fat Bike Birkie, which drew 1,200 participants in 2017. “The fat tire bike revolution has made it possible for people to keep biking year-

round,” noted Cieslewicz. “Sometimes they are commuters and sometimes they use them for recreational purposes. Here in Madison, people are riding them on the lakes when they freeze over. People are always inventing new ways to enjoy bicycle riding.”

BICYCLE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES 17 Wisconsin communities made the League of American Bicyclists’ fall 2016 list of top U.S. bike-friendly communities.





La Crosse





Dane County

River Falls

Eau Claire


Sheboygan County


Stevens Point


Sturgeon Bay



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Four solid reasons to build your business in Wisconsin BY MARYBETH MATZEK

Illinois-based Vonco Products LLC president Keith Smith was in search of a location to expand his company’s packaging manufacturing facility. He met with developers in his home state, but every plan was too expensive for the Lake Villa-based company, until an innovative idea from the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) came across his desk. The nonprofit economic group proposed building a facility for Vonco Products in a new business park it was developing in western Kenosha County. Vonco signed a 10-year lease for the new building at a break-even price.




Vonco Products breaks

That kind of innovative thinking and vibrant public/private partnerships are just two of the many reasons companies look to grow their businesses in Wisconsin, said Tricia Braun, vice president of economic and community development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “Wisconsin has a lot going for it, from our great location to a quality workforce, and businesses take notice of that,” she said. Jim Paetsch, vice president of the Milwaukee 7 regional ecoBRAUN nomic development group, worked on the Vonco project and said it was a unique deal. “Very rarely do you have an economic group go this far – building a new park and building a facility to a company’s exact specifications,” he said. “I think what KABA did shows just what Wisconsin economic groups are willing to do to support companies.” When it comes to attracting new businesses or helping current businesses expand in Wisconsin, economic development leaders point to four factors: a high-quality workforce, collaborative partnerships, location and strong financial incentives. WORKFORCE As baby boomers age, the competition for quality workers will only intensify as compa32


nies look to fill key vacancies, Braun said. “Wisconsin has long been known for the quality of its workforce,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s our strong manufacturing history or the German heritage, but companies that have plants in Wisconsin and elsewhere always remark on the strong Wisconsin work ethic.” Paetsch said state residents are well prepared for working in manufacturing. “We have a plentiful workforce, from engineers to people on the shop floor who understand the industry,” he said. Part of that understanding comes from productive collaborations between businesses and educational institutions, Braun said. She pointed out how the state’s technical colleges and K-12 school systems work with their local businesses to learn what skills are needed and to provide offerings to fit those needs. Wisconsin also ranks third in the nation in percentage of residents who graduate high school, making them better educated overall when compared to workers in other states, Braun said. COLLABORATION While KABA’s agreement with Vonco is distinctly innovative, collaboration between public and private entities is commonplace across Wisconsin. “Every deal we work on (at the WEDC) seems to have a public/private partnership component,” Braun said. “People are willing to work together towards a common goal of economic growth.”

ground in Wisconsin.

Not only do businesses collaborate with technical colleges on general skills needed by workers, the ties can go deeper with specialized, company-specific training Another example of public/private collaboration is seen at fabrication labs – also known as Fab labs – throughout the state, Braun said. First launched at MIT, Fab Labs feature off-the-shelf, industrial grade fabrication and electronics tools, which include open source software and programs written by researchers at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. Across the nation, the labs are typically operated by schools and accessible to both academics and area companies. In Wisconsin, Fab Labs need three things to exist: funds from the state, a school that houses the lab and support from local businesses, whether that means hands-on support or funding. At first found only in state colleges and universities, new Fab Labs are now popping up every year. In 2016, 25 high schools received funding through the state’s Fabrication Laboratories Grant Program for their own labs, to create a place where students can use their math, engineering and materials processing skills to make real products. At the Fab Lab in Three Lakes – which opened in 2015 and was the first in Wisconsin to be housed outside of a technical college – students and members of the community can use 3-D modeling and 3-D printing technology to design and make products. A product of BizTimes Media

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“We’re creating together as a team, and it is having a positive return” on Wisconsin’s economy, Braun said. LOCATION In business, location is everything, and Wisconsin is ideally positioned for companies that do business nationally and globally. Vital transportation corridors, plus proximity to Chicago and Minneapolis appeal to businesses move products over long distances. The interstate highways moving traffic around Wisconsin allow raw materials and manufactured goods to move easily, Paetsch said. Several retailers have large distribution centers here, including Walmart, Amazon and Dollar General. Products and raw materials also move via three large Great Lakes ports in Superior, Green Bay and Milwaukee. Railways also play a key role in moving raw materials through Wisconsin, such as transporting pig iron from the Port of Green Bay to Waupaca Foundry. The state also benefits from its close proximity to Chicago, a major rail hub. Access to materials and services is another strength. “You can’t beat Wiscon34


sin’s location for manufacturers,” said M7’s Paetsch. “There are a lot of industries here that are also part of key supply chains, which is something that matters to businesses. They don’t have to go too far to get what they need to make their products.” INCENTIVES Wisconsin offers attractive incentives for businesses looking to expand or move to the state as well as for startups, Braun said. In the case of Vonco, the manufacturer will receive state tax credits totaling up to $500,000 from the WEDC and a forgivable $500,000 loan from Kenosha County to help with relocation costs. The state’s list of tax credits and incentive programs is immense. When businesses come to the WEDC with their plans, the work begins to match up the company’s needs with what the state has to offer. “We want to fully understand the scope of the project and look to local partners to see what’s possible,” Braun said. For early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs, the Qualified New Business Venture Program (QNBV) has encouraged investment in startups, which has led to additional

job creation, said Aaron Haeger, the WEDC’s vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. Businesses developing innovative products or services can apply. Qualifying companies can offer angel investors, angel networks and qualified venture capital funds a tax credit equal to 25 percent of the total of the investment. “We’ve heard from investors and companies that these credits are important to growing businesses,” Haeger said. The Business Development Tax Credit program is another incentive companies can tap. It encourages businesses to add jobs, invest in capital improvement or provide employee training. The program also strives to retain corporate headquarters by providing refundable tax credits to reduce Wisconsin state income tax liability. A newer initiative is geared towards manufacturers and farmers. The Wisconsin Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit was 7.5 percent for the 2016 tax year, having risen in graduated stops to four times the 2013 level. Braun said the program is “a game changer for Wisconsin,” since it results in a lower tax rate that encourages companies to stay and grow here. Haeger said Wisconsin takes a comprehensive approach to tax credits when it comes to helping businesses, whether it’s a startup or a more mature company. As evidence, he pointed to the latest Kauffman Index of Main Street Entrepreneurship, which ranked the Badger State second among the 25 largest states when it comes to small business activity. In addition, half of the state’s startups survive their crucial first five years. “Startups live longer in Wisconsin, and I think you can trace that business health to the support we’ve given these companies,” Haeger said. As for Vonco Products, the combination of financial incentives, location, access to a well-trained workforce and the public/private partnership for its new facility encouraged Smith to move across the state line. Paetsch and other economic development officials hope that combination will encourage other companies to do the same. “We were impressed with what the WEDC and its partners put together, and we also want to thank KABA for the role they played in bringing the various parties together to complete the deal,” said Vonco’s Smith. “We’re very excited about what our new location means in terms of delivering solutions for our customers.” A product of BizTimes Media


Wyatt Bicycles customers customize their dream bikes online. Each is hand-built


and shipped door-to-door.

STARTUPS TO WATCH 3D GPS to sustainable flooring – and lots in between


Every startup begins with an idea that becomes a passion, whether it’s an exciting research discovery at one of the state’s universities or an employee who decides to go out on her own to offer something new to the market. From there, the race goes to the swift, the smart and the lucky. Here, in no particular order, are 10 up-and-coming Wisconsin companies to keep your eye on.


WYATT BICYCLES wyattbikes.com LOCATION: La Crosse FOUNDED: 2011 WHAT THEY DO: Manufacturer of custom fat tire bikes. Consumers go online to design their own bike, picking the tire size, seat, handlebars and more. The company then makes and ships it direct. By combining the mass production process with flexible customization, Wyatt Bicycles' actually cost less than similar custom versions.



MAGMA FLOORING: magmaflooring.com LOCATION: River Falls FOUNDED: 2012 WHAT THEY DO: Design and manufacture sustainable flooring from recycled plastic and natural fillers. The recyclable product is odorless and free of toxic chemicals often found in flooring, including chlorine and plasticizer. Spun off from Interfacial Solutions LLC, a contract research and development technology company.


FREMARQ INNOVATIONS fremarqinnovations.com LOCATION: Wausau FOUNDED: 2016 WHAT THEY DO: Custom curtain wall manufacturer specializing in the design and production of high performance, energy-efficient commercial framing systems. Company founder Todd Fredrick worked with fiberglass pultrusion companies to integrate the thermal break directly to the curtain wall, allowing more control and flexibility in building design. 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ


Propeller Health’s inhaler attachment connects to apps and services to help patients manage their asthma and COPD.

4 6 Xensr’s 3D GPS has quickly become a must-have for extreme sports enthusiasts around the world.

PROPELLER HEALTH propellerhealth.com LOCATION: Madison FOUNDED: 2010


xensr.com LOCATION: Green Bay FOUNDED: 2016

microbedetectives.com LOCATION: Milwaukee FOUNDED: 2013 WHAT THEY DO: Water testing company that uses advanced DNA sequencing to identify and quantify nearly all of the microbes in a sample of water. This process simplifies and improves accuracy in recognizing potential threats to the water supply being tested, and is used by both modern municipalities and developing-world communities.

WHAT THEY DO: Developers of a sensor that attaches to inhalers and connects with its mobile apps and services to help patients better manage their asthma and COPD. The company said in October 2016 that it raised $21.5 million from investors to help expand its therapy platform.




WHAT THEY DO: Creators of Xensr Air 3D, a wearable, three-dimensional GPS device that tracks athletic performance. While it can also be used for skiing, running and cycling, Xensr Air 3D is marketed to extreme sports enthusiasts, including kiteboarders, surfers and windsurfers. Founder David Troup spent four years researching and developing the device with extreme athletes around the world before returning home to Green Bay to design and manufacture the device.


THALCHEMY CORP. thalchemy.com LOCATION: Madison FOUNDED: 2012 WHAT THEY DO: Lightweight software product that uses real-time voice and movement sensor data to improve responsiveness and customization of its clients gaming, fitness and lifestyle apps, as well as wearables.



figured out how to use DNA sequencing to identify microbes in water.


vg12.com LOCATION: Pewaukee FOUNDED: 2008 WHAT THEY DO: Now in the final testing phase, founder Peter Petit has developed an inexpensive vacuum insulated glazing (VIG) for windows that retains more heat than triple-glazed windows, but at the same cost. V-Glass won the 2013 Governor’s Business Plan Contest and has received numerous grants to further its work.


Microbe Detectives founder Dr. Trevor Ghylin


DENTAL METRICS LABORATORY dentalmetricslab.com LOCATION: Iron River (Bayfield County) FOUNDED: 2015 WHAT THEY DO: In his micromanufacturing facility, founder Merlyn Coy and his team use leading edge technology to design and manufacture bridges and implants for dentists within a 400-mile radius of Iron River. Dental Metrics not only fills an important need in the region, but serves as a model for locationagnostic specialty manufacturing.

CANDEO CREATIVE candeocreative.com LOCATION: Oshkosh FOUNDED: 2012 WHAT THEY DO: Zack Pawlosky founded the integrated marketing agency while still a student at UWOshkosh. The company started with three employees and now employs 20. Candeo Creative acquired eBiz Results in 2015 to expand its web design and development services.

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Park Esker Software

NOW SHOWING Top trends in Wisconsin industry BY MARYBETH MATZEK

Wisconsin’s business sector is as diverse as its landscape. From biotech companies and large manufacturers to cheese makers and service providers in the financial, insurance and health care sectors, finding a couple of unifying themes – or even one – can be a challenge. But it is not impossible. Looking around the state, here are four trends taking shape across the Badger State.




When it comes to finding customers, Wisconsin companies are taking a global view. In 2015, state businesses exported $22.4 billion worth of products, with industrial machinery leading the way at 26 percent of that total, followed next by medical and scientific instruments at 10.8 percent. More businesses are exporting their products because the next 10 years will see the majority of middle class growth happen outside the United States, said Katy Sinnott, vice president of international business development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “Those growing middle classes are going to be hungry for goods; consumption will really grow outside of the United States,” she said. “There is global demand for the products we make here in Wisconsin.” The state’s biggest trading partners are Canada, Mex-

ico and China, and the WEDC leads trade trips to those and three additional countries every year. “We strategize and look at what countries need the products we make in Wisconsin,” Sinnott said. In addition, the WEDC provides grants to businesses that take self-guided trade trips and sets up meetings with foreign trade reps. It also runs ExporTech, an educational program in partnership with the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) that helps companies develop a successful export strategy. “Right now when we travel, we see a lot of interest in the freshwater technology being developed in Wisconsin. That is definitely a huge potential area in exporting,” Sinnott said. REGIONAL INDUSTRY HUBS Intentionally spread throughout the state in areas of like-industry concentration, regional industry hubs 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ


not only facilitate growth for the established companies involved, but also spark innovation and encourage the development of new businesses, making that region a stronger competitor in specific verticals. Each industry hub looks a little different. The pioneer and reigning flagship is the world-renowned water cluster around Milwaukee. The area around Green Bay and Manitowoc has created a successful defense manufacturing hub. Southeastern Wisconsin also has a mature food production hub, Food and Beverage (FaB) Wisconsin. Other hubs are in the works, including a biotech cluster in the Madison region. The New North IT Alliance is formalizing, with an office at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and a paid manager. Elsewhere in the Fox Valley, an aviation and aerospace hub is developing. Others are currently developing or are in the planning stages. Meghan Jansen, director of marketing and membership for The Water Council in Milwaukee, said when related businesses and organizations locate near each other, they can take advantage of the same skilled workforce, supply chain providers and technology. “Clusters allow for growth, since they are feeding each other,” she said. URBAN REPATRIATION During the 1970s and 80s, corporations looking for more room moved their headquarters to the suburbs. Now the tide is turning, as businesses once again are returning their headquarters to downtown areas. With plentiful attractions and desirable

places to live, active cities have become great employee attraction and retention tools, especially as businesses compete for the millennial workforce. Several businesses, including Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP, SafeNet Consulting Inc., ad agency Bader Rutter and Hammes Co., recently announced plans or moved their headquarters from the suburbs to downtown Milwaukee. Those companies were reaching out to the 37 percent of millennials who said in a Public Policy Forum survey of Milwaukee-area young professionals that downtown is where they want to work. The downtown migration is not limited to the state’s largest city. Madison, Green Bay and Appleton have all seen an influx of empty nesters and young professionals to their downtown areas, and smaller communities like La Crosse and Hudson have taken full advantage of their main street charm. In Neenah, Plexus Corp., an electronics engineering, manufacturing and aftermarket services provider recently moved its corporate headquarters from Interstate 41 to downtown Neenah, and will move its design center as well in 2017. “We’re moving the Neenah Design Center to take advantage of the great amenities the community has to offer,” Todd Kelsey, Plexus’ executive vice president and chief operating officer, said when the move was announced. COMMERCIALIZATION OF IP Wisconsin’s universities and medical facilities are fertile ground for startups as researchers look to commercialize patents

resulting from research. University Research Park in Madison is one of the top destinations for students and researchers seeking to turn their discoveries into a marketable business. Named by Forbes as one of the top 20 research parks in the nation, University Research Park allows entrepreneurs to rent anything from a single desk to an entire building. “We’re part of the broader UW startup ecosystem,” said Aaron Olver, managing director of the Research Park. “We are a neighborhood for innovation, with 125 firms employing nearly 4,000.” UW researchers come to the park after presenting their idea to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation or the university’s Discovery to Product Program. “We are here to help the companies that are spinning out of the minds of UW researchers and students,” Olver said. “It’s an amazing place we’ve built for people to develop their ideas.” Similarly, Innovation Campus is being developed by UW-Milwaukee in Wauwatosa. Beyond University Research Park, several Wisconsin health care systems are looking for ways to commercialize their own research. One example is TAI Dx, which was created with help from the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Office of Technology Development. TAI Dx is seeking to commercialize a rapid, non-invasive, targeted genetic diagnostic test to determine if a patient may reject a transplanted organ. So far, the company has raised more than $8.2 million from investors.




465,612 406,306 Manufacturing Health care/ social welfare






303,803 Retail

233,364 Hospitality

212,772 Education services




104,640 104,558 83,704 62,203 Transportation/ Professional Other services Management logistics & technical services 38


50,728 Information



146,462 136,929 Administration/ Public waste services administration



46,878 26,728 Arts/ Agriculture/ entertainment/ forestry/ recreation fishing/hunting




122,020 Finance/ insurance

121,463 Wholesale trade

111,167 Construction




25,490 Real estate

12,692 Utilities

3,452 Mining & quarrying/Oil & gas extraction

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Wisconsin is divided into nine vibrant economic development regions, each with its own flavor and set of economic strengths. Regional partnerships have spurred economic growth and closer relationships between education, government, commerce and community.

well-trained and educated workforce, the culture of innovation and research inspired by the University of Wisconsin and the high quality of life.










MILWAUKEE 7 (M7) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MADREP 455 Science Dr., Suite 160 Madison, WI 53711 PHONE: 608-571-0420 madisonregion.org EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Paul Jadin COUNTIES: Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock, Sauk POPULATION: 1,031,323 MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Advanced manufacturing, biosciences, education, food and beverage, government, health care, agriculture, information technology, life sciences

756 N. Milwaukee St., Suite 400 Milwaukee, WI, 53202 choosemilwaukee.com EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Pat O’Brien COUNTIES: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha POPULATION: 2 million MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Banking and finance, educational and health services, government, manufacturing, information services, insurance, leisure and hospitality, printing, professional and business services LARGEST AIRPORT: General Mitchell International

LARGEST AIRPORT: Dane County Regional

LARGEST SEAPORT: Port of Milwaukee

COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITIES: Beloit College, Blackhawk Technical College, Edgewood College, Herzing University, Madison Area Technical College, Madison Media Institute, UW-Madison, UW-Whitewater

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: Alverno College, Bryant & Stratton College, Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll University, Carthage College, Concordia University-Wisconsin, DeVry University, Gateway Technical College, High-Tech Institute-Brookfield, Kaplan College, Marquette University, Medical College of Wisconsin, Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Mount Mary University, Nashotah House, Ottawa University-

MadREP continues to successfully balance attracting and promoting biotech and technology startups in Madison, supporting surrounding communities in their plans to retain and grow businesses. Forbes named Madison the 7th Best City for Entrepreneurs, touting its


Milwaukee, Sacred Heart School of Theology, Sanford-Brown College, UWMilwaukee, UW-Parkside, UW-Whitewater, UW–Washington County, UW-Waukesha, Waukesha County Technical College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology The region represented by Milwaukee 7 (M7) is the state’s most populous and serves as the global headquarters for 9 Fortune 1000 companies. M7 leaders continue the push to attract more businesses to the area while retaining current companies and helping them grow. M7 has helped launch several industry clusters, including The Water Council and the Mid-West Energy Resource Consortium, to spur industry innovations and create economic growth.

NEW NORTH 600 N. Adams St. Green Bay WI 54307 PHONE: 920-336-3860 thenewnorth.com

plastics/films, tourism and hospitality, defense, marine, agriculture and food production, power and energy LARGEST AIRPORT: Green Bay Austin Straubel International LARGEST SEAPORT: Port of Green Bay COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES: Bellin College, College of Menominee Nation, Fox Valley Technical College, Lakeland College, Lakeshore Technical College, Lawrence University, Marian University, Moraine Park Technical College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Ripon College, Silver Lake College, St. Norbert College, UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley, UW-Green Bay; UW-Manitowoc, UWMarinette, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Sheboygan The New North continues to look for ways to help businesses across the 18-county region flourish. The vast area starts from the shores of Lake Michigan and moves east through the industrial Fox Valley, to several central Wisconsin counties where agriculture is the primary industry. The economic development group has created multiple online supply chain directories for various industries, including defense, advanced manufacturing, shipbuilding, aviation and information technology.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Jerry Murphy COUNTIES: Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Sheboygan, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago POPULATION: 1,230,000 MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Paper, paper converting, machinery,

7 RIVERS ALLIANCE 601 Seventh St. North La Crosse, WI 54601 PHONE: 608-787-8777 7riversalliance.org EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Lisa Herr



MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Food manufacturing, fabricated metal product manufacturing, lumber, animal production and aquaculture, machinery manufacturing, agriculture, manufacturing composites, truck transportation, hospitality, health care, education services COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: UW-La Crosse, Viterbo University, Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Luther College, Western Technical College, Globe University, Minnesota State CollegeSoutheast Technical College The 7 Rivers Alliance promotes economic development in counties in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, knowing that business growth does not stop at state boundaries. A tri-state board of directors helps bring together community and business leaders to solve issues from across the region. By sharing information and developing clusters, the 7 Rivers Alliance looks to inspire innovation across industries, particularly technology and health care while also combining efforts to attract and retain a skilled workforce to the region.

PROSPERITY SOUTHWEST 1800 Bronson Blvd Fennimore, WI 53809 PHONE: 608-822-3501 prosperitysouthwest.com PRESIDENT: Ron Brisbois COUNTIES: Crawford, Grant, Green, Lafayette, Richland POPULATION: 210,000

PHONE: 715-874-4673 momentumwest.org

Manufacturing, agriculture and tourism are the region’s strongest industries, with Prosperity Southwest utilizing the Locate In Wisconsin website to market available buildings, industrial park property and building sites to companies considering the area.

COUNTIES: Barron, Clark, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix

Prosperity Southwest is the economic development organization for five 40


POPULATION: 453,380 MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Medical devices, plastics, packaging, health care, education, bio-agriculture, bio-energy, sensors, computers, nanotechnology, chemicals LARGEST AIRPORT: Chippewa Valley

CENTERGY 500 First St., Suite 15 Wausau, WI 54403 PHONE: 715-843-9563 centergy.net EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Nelson Dahl Counties: Adams, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Wood POPULATION: 328,399 MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Manufacturing, paper, health care, insurance LARGEST AIRPORT: Central Wisconsin COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin, Mid-State Technical College, Northcentral Technical College, UWMarathon County, UW-Marshfield/ Wood County, UW-Stevens Point The five counties that form Centergy are home to a diverse array of businesses, from heavy-duty manufacturers and bio-based technology firms to health care and insurance services. The key to the region’s success is balancing the different industries and focusing on the issues important to all of them, including workforce attraction and retention. Health care is a major economic catalyst. The Marshfield Clinic is purchasing and updating St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield from Ministry Healthcare, a division of Ascension Health, while Ministry is adding to St. Clare’s Hospital just outside of Wausau, making that the system’s flagship hospital for the region.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Lumber, agriculture, agriculture equipment, cheese manufacturing, metal machining COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: UWPlatteville, UW-Richland Center, Southwest Wisconsin Technical CollegeFennimore, Blackhawk Technical College


is also needed by area residents. In 2016, three telecom companies, using $570 million in government subsidies, pledged to expand broadband coverage to another 230,000 households across rural Wisconsin, including the area covered by Grow North, by 2020. evelopment G cD mi

Nort hwest Visions

up ro

POPULATION: 435,000 – Region total (including Iowa and Minnesota counties); 295,000 in Wisconsin

counties in Southwest Wisconsin, focusing on business recruitment and retention for small businesses and large industrial companies.

al gion Econ o Re

COUNTIES: Buffalo, Crawford, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Trempealeau and Vernon counties in Wisconsin; Fillmore, Houston and Winona counties in Minnesota; Allamakee and Winneshiek counties in Iowa


COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: UW-Barron County, UW-Eau Claire, UWRiver Falls, UW-Stout, Chippewa Valley Technical College, Indianhead Technical College, Immanuel Lutheran College

1400 S. River St. Spooner, WI 54801 PHONE: 715-635-2197 visionsnorthwest.org

Collaboration describes how businesses, organizations and municipalities work in the area represented by Momentum West. The group recently launched an economic development dashboard showing how the economy is performing in the region’s 10 counties. It uses objective data designed to help area leaders focus on key economic factors.

COUNTIES: Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Washburn

The region is also home to three four-year University of Wisconsin campuses, which provide area businesses with additional talent, training and research.

GROW NORTH P.O. Box 518 Rhinelander, WI 54501 PHONE: 715-365-4468 grownorth.org EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Angi Schreiber COUNTIES: Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas POPULATION: 119,000 MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Tourism, health care, wood products, manufacturing LARGEST AIRPORT: Rhinelander/Oneida County


POPULATION: 163,924 MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Manufacturing, health care, retail, tourism LARGEST AIRPORT: Duluth International LARGEST PORT: Port of Duluth-Superior COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES: UW-Superior, Northland College, Northcentral Technical College, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Visions Northwest is in the process of completing an inventory and evaluation of existing utility lines, including broadband Internet, to determine how the existing infrastructure may affect business growth. The study, which was funded by a capacity building grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, will help area officials identify potential areas for economic development and what additional services may be needed to spark additional growth. The organization is also working to promote and further develop the wood industry throughout the region, including how work being done at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Natural Resource Research Institute may help area businesses and the creation of new ones.

COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES: Nicolet College, Northcentral Technical College

MOMENTUM WEST 2322 Alpine Rd. Suite 7 Eau Claire, WI 54703

Across Wisconsin’s Northwoods, improving connectivity through the expansion of broadband Internet is the number one economic development issue. Companies rely on high-speed connections to conduct business, which A product of BizTimes Media


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES 608-787-8777 7riversalliance.com

Portage County Economic Development Corporation 715-344-1940 portagecountybiz.com

Buffalo County Rural Economic Development Corporation 608-685-6256 mwt.net/~cduley

City of Wisconsin Rapids Economic Development Board 715-421-8225 wirapids.org

Juneau County Economic Development Corporation 608-427-2070 juneaucounty.com

Heart of WI Chamber of Commerce (Wood County) 715-423-1830 wisconsinrapidschamber.com

LaCrosse Area Development Corporation 608-784-5488 co.la-crosse.wi.us

Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry 715-384-3454 marshfieldchamber.com

LaCrosse Chamber of Commerce 608-784-4880 lacrossechamber.com

City of Marshfield Economic Development Board 715-486-2074 ci.marshfield.wi.us


Go Monroe County Wisconsin 608-269-8722 gomonroecountywi.com Trempealeau County 715-538-2311 tremplocounty.com Vernon County Economic Development Association 608-637-5396 veda-wi.org

CENTERGY 715-843-9563 centergy.net

Adams County Rural & Industrial Development Commission 608-339-6945 adamscountywi.com Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation 715-536-0383 co.lincoln.wi.us Marathon County Development Corporation 715-848-5954 mcdevco.org


GROW NORTH 715-365-4468 grownorth.org

Florence County Economic Development (FCEDC) 715-528-3294 exploreflorencecounty.com Forest County Economic Development Partnership 715-478-6069 forestcountywibusiness.com Langlade County Economic Development Corporation 715-623-5123 co.langlade.wi.us Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation 715-539-1024 lincolncountyedc.org Marinette County Association for Business & Industry 715-732-7421 mcabi.com Northwoods NiiJii Enterprise Community, Inc 715-588-4250 niijii.org

Oconto County Economic Development Corporation 920-834-6969 ocontocounty.org/ economic-development Oneida County Economic Development Corporation 715-369-9110 ocedc.org Vilas County Economic Development Corporation 715-480-4100 vilascountyedc.org

MADRep madisonregion.org Columbia County Economic Development Corporation 608-742-6161 ccedc.com Dane County Economic Development 608-266-4270 dane-econdev.org Dodge County Economic Development Corporation 920-386-3710 co.dodge.wi.us Iowa County Economic Development Corporation 608-341-6797 iowacountyedc.org Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation 920-674-8710 jeffersoncountywi.gov Rock County Development Alliance 608-757-5598 co.rock.wi.us Sauk County Development Corporation 608-355-2084 scdc.com



715-874-4673 momentumwest.com

414-287-4100 mke7.com

Barron County Economic Development Corporation 715-637-6871 barroncounty.com

Kenosha Area Business Alliance 262-605-1100 kaba.org

Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation 715-723-7150 chippewa-wi.com Clark County Economic Development Corporation 715-255-9100 clark-cty-wi.org Dunn County Economic Development Corporation 715-232-4009 dunnedc.com Eau Claire County Economic Development Corporation 715-834-0070 eauclaire-wi.com Pepin County Economic Development Corporation 715-672-5709 co.pepin.wi.us Pierce County Economic Development Corporation 715-425-3881 pcedc.com Polk County Economic Development Corporation 715-405-7655 polkcountyedc.com

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce 414-287-4100 mmac.org Milwaukee County Economic Development Corporation 414-278-4185 county.milwaukee.gov/mced Ozaukee County Economic Development 262-238-7730 ozaukee.wi.us Racine County Economic Development Corporation 262-898-7424 racinecountyedc.org Walworth County Economic Development Alliance 262-741-8134 walworthbusiness.com Washington County Economic Development Corporation 262-335-5769 edwc.org Waukesha County Economic Development Corporation 262-695-7901 wctc.edu

Rusk County Economic Development Corporation 715-532-2257 inruskcounty.com

920-336-3860 thenewnorth.com

St. Croix County Economic Development Corporation 715-381-4383 stcroixedc.com

Advance Brown County Greater Green Bay Chamber 920-496-2113 titletown.org


Calumet County Economic Development Corporation 920-849-1493 co.calumet.wi.us



Door County Economic Development Corporation 920-743-3113 doorcountybusiness.com

Marinette County Economic Development Corporation 715-732-7421 marinettecounty.com

Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation 920-982-1582 wcedc.org

Florence County Economic Development Commission 715-528-3294 co.florence.wi.us

Menominee County Economic Development 715-799-6226 menominee.uwex.edu/ community-development

City of Oshkosh (Winnebago County) 920-236-5055 ci.oshkosh.wi.us

Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation 920-929-2063 fcedc.com Tri-County Regional Economic Development Corporation 920-382-0963 tcredc.org Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation 920-255-1661 kcedc.org Progress Lakeshore (Manitowoc County) 920-482-0540 progresslakeshore.org

Lafayette Development Corporation 608-776-8080 fudevpro.com

Iron County Economic Development Corporation 715-561-2922 ironcountywi.com


Price County Economic Development Corporation 715-744-4700 co.price.wi.us

715-635-2197 nwrpc.com

Oconto County Economic Development Corporation 920-834-6969 ocontocounty.org

PROSPERITY SOUTHWEST prosperitysouthwest.com

Ashland County Economic Development Corporation 715-682-8344 ashlandareadevelopment.org

Outagamie County. Fox Cities EDC. 920-832-5255 foxcitiesregionalpartnership.com

Crawford County Economic Development Corporation 608-326-0234 crawfordcountyedc.org

Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation 715-209-4589 bayfieldcountyedc.com

Shawano County Economic Development Corporation 715-526-5839 shawanoecondev.org

Grant County Economic Development Corporation 608-822-3501 grantcounty.org

Burnett County Economic Development Corporation 715-349-2979 burnett.uwex.edu

Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation 920-452-2479 sheboygancountyedc.com

Green County Wisconsin Development Corporation 608-328-9452 greencountyedc.com

The Development Association (Douglas County) 715-392-4749 developmentassociation.com

Rusk County Development 715-532-2257 inruskcounty.com/ Sawyer County Development Corporation 715-634-7226 scdc.us Taylor County Economic Development Corporation 715-748-1400 taylor.uwex.edu/communitydevelopment Washburn County Economic Development Corporation 715-635-8242 washburncodevelopment.com


and small businesses in the New Richmond Area.

Angels on the Water 920-232-8904 angelsonthewater.com Seed and early-stage funding for high-growth, startup companies in NE Wisconsin.

Northwoods Angels 715-337-0061 vilascountyedc.org Investment for startup and high-growth companies in Vilas County.

Wisconsin Rural Enterprise Fund 715-635-2197 nwrpc.com Cooperative venture fund of local government and Tribal Nations providing equity investment for startups.

Chippewa Valley Angel Investor Network 715-878-9791 Private equity financing for early-stage and startup ventures in the greater Chippewa Valley.

Phenomenelle Angels 608-441-8315 phenomenelleangels.com Early-stage fund investing in women- and minorityowned/managed businesses in the Midwest.

Wisconsin Super Angel Fund 414-405-4848 wsafund.com Capitalizes and actively mentors Wisconsin-based, early-stage, high-growth companies, targeting exits within 3-5 years.

St. Croix Valley Angel Network 715-425-3398 Network that links earlystage companies with high net worth individuals.

Yahara Angel Network 608-846-9477 wisconsintechnologycouncil.com Focusing on bio- and agricultural technology, health care, long term care, and life-planning technologies.

Golden Angels Network 262-439-4421 goldenangelsinvestors.com Network of over 60 investors focusing on Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as other areas of the U.S. Lakeshore Angels 920-918-9477 Mezzanine financing for laterstage companies with strong cash flow in the Sheboygan area.

Third Coast Angels Jack@thirdcoastangels.com thirdcoastangels.com Focus on environmentally sustainable enterprises and new technologies.

New Richmond Angel Investment Network 715-246-8989 newrichmondareaedc.com Investment for startups

Wisconsin Investment Partners 608-692-7481 wisinvpartners.com Life science-oriented seed investing in Wisconsin.



GRANTS / LOANS Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) 855-469-4249 inwisconsin.com Wisconsin’s lead economic

development agency, helping businesses, communities and individuals with opportunities for growth and job creation.

Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) 608-266-7884/ 414-227-4039 wheda.org Low-cost financing programs, including small business loans and grants.

LOANS Adams County Rural & Industrial Development Corporation 608-339-6945 Innovative financing packages for new and expanding businesses. First American Capital Corporation 920-499-6444 aiccw-facc.org Benefitting Wisconsin’s Indian Country with business loans and services that strengthen the skills of Native entrepreneurs.

Great Lakes Asset Corporation 920-499-6444 greatlakesasset.com Long-term fixed rate loans for small businesses. Impact 7 414-828-6222 impactseven.org Alternative lender to businesses looking to start, grow and thrive with loans from a few thousand dollars to several million. Madison Development Corporation 608-356-2799 mdcorp.org Loans for hard-to-finance small businesses in Dane County. Wisconsin Business Development Finance Corporation 608-819-0390 wbd.org Helping small businesses access SBA loans and raise capital for growth.

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Wisconsin Business Innovation Corporation 715-635-2197 nwrpc.com Low-cost gap financing for businesses in rural NW Wisconsin. Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) 414-263-5450 wwbic.com Assisting women, people of color and low-income entrepreneurs with access to affordable loans.

NONPROFIT BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation 414-224-6000 brightstarwi.org Reinvests charitable donations in early-stage, Wisconsinbased companies emphasizing innovation and technology. Prefer to co-invest. Ideadvance Seed Fund 608-263-3315 uwideadvance.org Capital and business resources for staff, faculty and students

of the UW System. No real estate, consumer retail or hospitality businesses.

VENTURE CAPITAL 4490 Ventures 608-501-0000 4490.ventures Early-stage funding to build IT startups in Wisconsin. American Family Ventures amfamventures.com Focus on digital technologies, data analytics, and insurancerelated products and business models. Initial investments range from $100k to $2M. Baird Capital 888-224-7326 bairdcapital.com Venture capital, growth equity and private equity investments in early-stage and expansion-stage in business services and life sciences. Calumet Venture Fund 608-310-3242 calumetvc.com $200K-$3 million at inception in high-growth technology companies emphasizing IT,

e-commerce, mobile technologies and bioinformatics.

Capital Midwest Fund 414-453-4488 capitalmidwest.com Primarily invests in life science and information technology companies.

and early-stage investment in Midwest-based tech, biotech, and clean tech startups.

Kegonsa Capital Fund 608-205-0100 kegonsapartners.com Partnering with the Kegonsa Seed Fund and the Kegonsa Coinvest Fund, a growthstage venture capital fund.

CSA Partners csapartnersllc.com Early-stage, high growth Midwestern companies, particularly in Wisconsin. DaneVest Tech Fund Advisors 608-826-4000 danevestcapital.com Private, early-stage businesses in IT, life science and consumer goods/services. Geo Investors 608-497-0619 geo-investors.com Renewable energy sector investors seeking higherrisk, adjusted returns by taking advantage of existing market gaps. Inventure Capital 608-468-6605 inventure-capital.com Global macro-trading, real estate

Marshfield Investment Partners 715-384-3454 marshfieldchamber.com Early-stage, high-growth companies in the greater Marshfield region and Wisconsin. NEW Capital Fund 920-731-5777 newcapitalfund.com Early-stage life and material science, information technology, and growth stage niche/advanced manufacturing investments.

Silicon Pastures 414-347-7815 siliconpastures.com Investing in companies that use technology to improve business processes in the Midwest Great Lakes region. Venture Investors 608-441-2700 ventureinvestors.com Seed and early venture capital, focusing on health care and technology investments. Venture Management 608-819-8888 vmllc.com Seed and early-stage capital for health care and technology companies in Wisconsin or that interact with Wisconsin’s economy.

Peak Ridge Capital 608-310-9520 peakridgecapital.com Alternative asset management firm that focuses on unique investments.

Reliable. Affordable. Environmentally Responsible Electricity is more than a convenience; it’s essential to the way we live our lives. When you flip the switch, boot up a laptop or just kick back and watch a movie, you depend on safe, reliable electricity. Moving energy forward, from the source to where it’s used, is what American Transmission Co. is all about. That’s why as we plan for the electric grid of the future, we’re also keeping close watch on the grid of today to make sure you don’t miss a beat.

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INCUBATORS & ACCELERATORS 100State 100state.com Co-working space that actively supports entrepreneurs. Advance Business and Manufacturing Center 920-437-8704 titletown.org Kitchen, work and manufacturing space, plus technical assistance. Advocap 920-922-7760 advocap.org Community action agency that helps low-income entrepreneurs become self-employed. AeroInnovate 920-424-2364 aeroinnovate.org Incubator for entrepreneurs and innovators in the aviation or aerospace industry. Ashland Area Enterprise Center 715-682-8344 ashlandareadevelopment.com Mixed-use incubator that provides leased space, support and services. BizStarts Milwaukee 414-973-2334 bizstartsmilwaukee.org Center connecting startups and scaling businesses to resources, education and capital. Brew Accelorator 414-988-8751 thewatercouncil.com Accelerator program for water technology startups with commercialization potential. Business Success Center 920-424-0833 uwosh.edu/bsc Connects area businesses with university resources. Central Wisconsin Community Action Council 608-254-8353 cwcac.org Programs to help individuals start small businesses.



Coulee Region Business Center 608-782-8022 crbc.biz Small business incubator for La Crosse-area entrepreneurs. Couleecap 608-634-3104 couleecap.org Nonprofit that offers business development programs. CVTC Applied Technology Center 715-874-4655 cvtc.edu/atc Advanced manufacturing incubation center. Development Association 715-392-4749 wegrowbiz.org Resources for the retention, creation, expansion and recruitment of businesses. Door County Business Development Center 920-743-3113 doorcountybusiness.com Mixed-use business incubator that provides leased space, support and services. Entrepreneurial and E ducation Center 715-261-6680 wausaudevelopment.com Development center to help local entrepreneurs begin or expand businesses. FaBcap Accelerator 414-287-4143 fabwisconsin.com Finance and business accelerator for food and beverage industry companies with 5-200 employees. Farm Market Kitchen 920-421-0995 farmmarketkitchen.com Incubator for food processing businesses that preserve the region’s agricultural heritage. gener8tor 414-502-8881 gener8tor.com Top-ranked accelerator providing early startups funding and a 12-week mentorship program.

Granville Business Development Center 414-736-2891 granvillebusiness.org Incubator for startup and scaling businesses. Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce 414-645-8828 hmongchamber.org Business network helping Hmong entrepreneurs connect. Janesville Innovation Center 608-206-7121 janesvilleinnovation.com Short-term leasing space for local Janesville startups. Jefferson Area Business Center 608-674-9000 jeffersonabc.com Office space and moving services, with marketing and administrative aid available. Kickapoo Culinary Center 608-485-3413 kickapooculinary.org Cultivator of food businesses in the Kickapoo region. Lincoln County Economic Development Corporation 715-539-1024 lincolncountyedc.org Free and confidential business assistance. Madison Enterprise Center 608-256-3527 cwd.org Serving startup and expanding small businesses. Main Street Industries 608-516-4046 cwd.org A second-stage incubator that serves startups and expanding businesses. Northwest Side Community Development Corporation 414-444-8200 nwscdc.org Supporting business development for regional low-income communities.

Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute 414-383-4633 multiculturalinstitute.com/ institute Providing education, consulting and technical assistance. NE Wisconsin Technical College Entrepreneur Resource Center 920-498-7180 nwtc.edu/erc Resources and education for potential entrepreneurs. Northwest Regional Planning Commission 715-635-2197 nwrpc.com Six locations providing young companies with facility, financial and technical assistance. Platteville Business Incubator 608-348-2758 pbii.org Promoting startups in the Platteville area. Richland County Community Resource Development 608-647-6148 prosperitysouthwest.com Facilities and business financing programs. SC Johnson Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Center 262-898-7524 gtc.edu Manufacturing lab with flexible training on stateof-the-art equipment. Scale Up Milwaukee scaleupmilwaukee.org Action project focused on developing entrepreneurial capacity in Milwaukee. Sector 67 608-241-4605 sector67.org Workspace and makerspace for professionals developing next-gen technology. Start Me Up WI startmeupwisconsin.com A venue for entrepreneurs to build a community of innovative thinkers.

StartingBlock Madison startingblockmadison.org Collaborative environment of learning, mentorship, resources and investment opportunities. Technology Innovation Center 414-778-1400 mcrpc.org Workspace for research and technology firms. University Research Park, @1403 608-320-3243 universityresearchpark.org State-of-the-art facilities and co-working, networking, and mentoring. UW-Extension Division for Business and Entrepreneurship 608-263-7794 uwex.edu Supports UW System and Wisconsin communities with services focused on business creation, growth and performance. Ward 4 Milwaukee ward4mke.com Workspace and opportunities to support entrepreneurs. Privately funded by CSA Partners. Wisconsin African American Women’s Center 414-933-1652 Business incubator for economic empowerment. Wisconsin Small Business Development Center 608-263-0221 wisconsinsbdc.org Statewide network that helps businesses launch and grow with a variety of services. Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) 414-263-5450 wwbic.com Assisting women, people of color and low-income entrepreneurs with mentorship, training and access to affordable loans.

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STRONGER TOGETHER Sector hubs poise Wisconsin companies for industry leadership BY MARYBETH MATZEK

three below well represent the momentum and scope of Wisconsin’s sector hubs.

Major contractors like Marinette Marine are central to northeast Wisconsin’s defense industry cluster.


he pieces for a successful business cluster were all there: manufacturers tied to the water industry; a university program focused on freshwater research; and nonprofits interested in water-related and economic issues. The key for Milwaukee business and community leaders was finding a way to successfully bring them together. “Clusters are about creating opportunities for collisions among industries, academia and NGOs (non-governmental organizations),” said Meghan Jansen, director of marketing and membership for the Water Council, the organization created in 2009 to guide the industry hub. The Water Council is just one of many sector hubs throughout Wisconsin. Clusters are geographic concentrations of businesses from similar industries working together to wisconsinbiz.com

share resources, foster innovation, shorten supply chains and create efficiencies for customers. They have close relationships with other industries in the region, draw from the same talented workforce pool and use similar technologies, which translates to a competitive industry advantage over similar businesses elsewhere. In Wisconsin, there are healthy sector hubs across the state, including the defense cluster in the northeast focused around Oshkosh Truck and Marinette Marine; Madison’s biotech hub bringing together public, private and academic resources; a statewide, Milwaukee-based hub for food and beverage production; a growing aviation cluster in Oshkosh and a health care hub in La Crosse. There are too many examples of successful collaboration to cover in one story, but the

A WAVE OF SUCCESS Resting on the banks of Lake Michigan – one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes – water has always been a theme running through Milwaukee’s business community. In 2009, a group of academic, business and nonprofit leaders pulled the threads together to create the Water Council. In 2017, that effort is paying off: a state audit found that from 2010 to 2014, investment in the water hub and surrounding development totaled $211.6 million. The Global Water Center, opened in 2013 to serve as a nexus for water industry development and innovation, is part of that growth. The Global Water Center houses not only The Water Council’s offices, but also a stateof-the-art water flow lab, offices and meeting space available to tenants and an auditorium. In the adjacent Reed Street Yards, a new 52,000-square-foot building was completed recently for Zurn Industries, a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures. Zurn, which is owned by Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp., moved its headquarters from Pennsylvania to the new building. The company plans to eventually have 120 employees at the site. City and industry cluster leaders are hoping the Global Water Center will help attract more water-related businesses to the Reed Street Yards. “The Water Council wanted to be an epicenter for new development in the water industry, and with the center we have a physical footprint to do that,” Jansen said. “The water cluster was already here before the Council was formed and before the center opened. Those two developments just spurred additional growth.” The water technology cluster extends beyond businesses, with Marquette Uni201 7 WISCONSINBIZ


versity adding a program in water law and UW-Whitewater offering a minor in water business. Those educational offerings are in addition to the programs offered by Water Council founding partner UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences. The Council’s seed accelerator – BREW (Business Research Entrepreneurship in Wisconsin) – also took in its first class in 2013. BREW looks to spur innovation in the water industry by funding early stage water technology startups with commercialization potential, Jansen said. Entrepreneurs accepted into BREW not only receive funding to help launch the business, but also get work space at the Water Council, expert business mentorship, access to its labs, pitch and investor coaching and more. “We receive applications for BREW from all over the world from people inspired to develop new technologies that look to change the industry,” Jansen said. The Water Council recently launched BREW Corporate, which pairs corporations looking for specific technologies and solutions with BREW startups that compete to solve the problem. The winning solution could be implemented by the sponsor company – with appropriate rights and compensation for the winner – or there could be continued investment or partnership by the sponsors of the winner’s solution. “The Water Council has a variety of programs that help businesses of all sizes,” Jansen said. “It’s all about growing the overall water industry hub here in Milwaukee.” FLYING HIGH For one week each summer, the aviation world focuses on Oshkosh during the annual Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Convention. In addition to EAA, Oshkosh is home to several aviation-focused businesses near Wittman Airport, which is owned by Winnebago County, and two educational institutions with aviation programs. UW-Oshkosh’s Business Success Center also sponsors AeroInnovate, a virtual aviation accelerator program, that brings together aviation-themed entrepreneurs with industry experts during EAA’s AirVenture. “There was this thinking: we’re known as the center of aviation for one week of the year, why not the rest?” said Audra Hoy, director of business and economic development at the Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corp. That thinking took on urgency when 46


The City of Oshkosh and Winnebago County collaborated to create the new Oshkosh Aviation Business Park.

the Great Recession hit Oshkosh Corp., the city’s largest employer. The defense contractor not only began laying off employees. The changes also affected the company’s suppliers, Hoy said. “There was this realization that Oshkosh needed to diversify its industry base, and aviation made a logical fit. A lot of the companies who make stuff for Oshkosh could do the same for aviation companies,” she said. The aviation hub concept took a big step forward in 2013, when Winnebago County and the City of Oshkosh purchased 80 acres of land adjacent to Wittman Airport to create the Oshkosh Aviation Business Park. The 30 acres owned by the city are available for purchase, while the 50 acres owned by the county are available for lease and will have direct access to an airport taxiway. The park, with its shovel-ready lots, officially opened last summer. The park is projected to spur more than $73 million in additional activity in Winnebago County, and Hoy said that between 250 and 500 additional jobs are expected to be created. “The park is a great partnership between the city and county and will help spur additional growth in the aviation sector,” Hoy said. Hoy pointed out there are more than 140 suppliers to the Boeing Co. and more than 200 state companies have ties to the aerospace sector. “That kind of concentration is a draw, since it shows area companies have experience in the industry,” she said, adding the Greater Oshkosh Revolving Loan Fund and Capital Catalyst program are also in place to provide funding to businesses. AeroInnovate brings a global flair to the cluster, Hoy said. “People from all around the world come here for AeroInnovate and EAA, and that really puts an industry-wide focus on Oshkosh,” he said.

MORE THAN CHEESE AND BRATS Wisconsin is known as the Dairy State, but the number of businesses tied to food and beverage sector goes way beyond cheese and milk-related products. Over 1,700 food and beverage makers call the state home. “It’s not just cheese and brats that are made in Wisconsin, but so much more,” said Shelly Jurewicz, executive director of FaB Wisconsin, the state’s food and beverage industry cluster organization. “We have a vibrant ag industry. We’re national leaders in cranberries, ginseng, snap beans and a lot more.” From Door County’s cherry orchards and the cranberry marshes in northern Wisconsin, to the dairy farms scattered throughout the state and the beans and corn grown in central Wisconsin, The ag industry has roots across the state. “We make a lot of food ingredients in Wisconsin and have a rich ag history,” Jurewicz said. “We not only grow our ag products, but we add value to them, too.” Seven of the world’s largest 11 food companies have operations in Wisconsin, which also has more food equipment manufacturers than any other state. With that as a backdrop, plus the fact the Milwaukee area is home to more than 253 food and beverage manufacturers, Milwaukee 7 and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) identified the industry as a key cluster for economic growth. In 2010, Milwaukee 7 and Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce created FaB Wisconsin (then known as FaB Milwaukee). Jurewitz said FaB Wisconsin “fully connects the industry. We bring together not only the different businesses, but also the various industry association groups, too.” By coming together, FaB Wisconsin can address the different areas of concern that food and beverage manufacturers have. “Whether you are big or small, local or global, there are issues that cross all lines, such as finding talent, sparking innovation and addressing safety issues,” Jurewicz said. Once FaB Wisconsin was created, other developments began falling into place. For example, Milwaukee Area Technical College, with input from FaB, created three new food manufacturing programs and FaB launched the FaBcap Accelerator. In 2015, FaB received a $115,000 grant from the WEDC to launch the accelerator to help startups get off the ground. “The startup space is very hot in the food industry,” Jurewicz said. A product of BizTimes Media


Effective leadership is not accidental — By Joseph Weitzer, PhD


ne of the best investments you can make is in the development of your leadership infrastructure. That doesn’t negate the need to invest in training that supports improved performance of your front line or enhanced knowledge and skills for technicians and specialists. In fact, all employees should be engaged in training and provided development opportunities that add value to the organization and help to move strategic initiatives forward. As we consider training initiatives, we often overlook the needs of our existing leaders. We make assumptions that the skills of leaders are complete, after all, we tend to promote highly engaged “experts” who may have navigated through the system and acquired a working knowledge of the business operations while developing a network of support. Typically, when these leaders struggle it is not due to their lack of subject-area expertise, but rather to a general inability to effectively lead others.

The Leader’s reality

Earning the title of leader does not equate to effective leadership. Leadership is a progressive attribute, influenced by personal and career maturity as well as other developmental factors. It requires a foundation of knowledge, and the opportunity to practice and hone skills through structured mentoring that fosters critical thinking and guidance in problem-solving and decision-making processes. Leadership effectiveness is directly related to the willingness of the leader to learn, the

Leadership Training Options The Center for Business Performance Solutions offers three comprehensive opportunities for developing leaders. Each is characterized by: • Realistic expectations regarding outcomes • A foundation of content relevant to today’s leaders • Customization designed to optimize • desired outcomes • Open, safe and confidential sharing and learning environment • Case studies and learning activities based on real-world experiences of cohort and facilitators • Immediately applicable methods and tools • Practical application and debriefings to accelerate value • Ongoing executive coaching support

ability to articulate clear vision and expectations, the ability to recognize and leverage the strengths of their teams and the ability to optimize “known” strengths at opportune moments. These are learned behaviors.

Deliberative approach to leadership

Organizations need to be diligent in the approach used to identify and develop individuals for leadership responsibility. An effective plan requires much more than promoting high performers. The organization has a responsibility to make

investments that provide fundamental skills and learning opportunities relevant to the leader’s role, access to coaching, and relevant, timely feedback designed to accelerate their leadership value. The leadership facilitators at the Center for Business Performance Solutions understand the variability of skills needed by leaders at various stages of development. They have a proven process for assessing opportunities and aligning the right training to accelerate performance. Join the growing number of customer businesses who have experienced high-value return through our personalized, custom programs, and enhance your leadership infrastructure today.

CBPS Comprehensive Leadership Training Portfolio The Foundational Leadership Program is designed to provide fundamental leadership tools to enhance the performance of team members new to their leadership roles, or for those identified as potential leaders. The Accelerating Leadership Program focuses on elements of high-performing teams, professional communication, emotional intelligence, effective feedback and coaching dynamics – ideal for supervisors and managers seeking to enhance the performance of their teams. The Transformational Leadership Program is designed for seasoned leaders who see opportunities to enrich their own skills, as well as those whose role is to lead organizational change. This program is entirelycustomized around participant needs and features personalized coaching sessions to accelerate learning and foster application of principles. This program is ideal for seasoned leaders.

For more information on optimizing the performance of your team, contact CBPS at 262-695-7828 or cbps.info@wctc.edu.




State’s share of mid-sized companies higher than national average



isconsin’s strong manufacturing sector plays a vital role in helping middle market firms grow and thrive throughout the state. The most recent Middle Market Power Index ranked Wisconsin 11th in the nation in the growth of mid-sized companies over the past five years. The number of those firms grew 90.5 percent from 2011 to 2016, per the report released by American Express and Dun & Bradstreet. The latter defines middle market companies as having revenues between $10 million and $1 billion. The report cites the state’s manufacturing and wholesale trade sectors for the increase. “Middle market firms are found in every state in the nation, yet – due in no small measure to the industrial heritage of middle market firms – some states are more likely than average to be home to middle market firms,” the report said. Wisconsin falls into that “more than average” range. Wisconsin has 4,083 middle market companies, 1.1 percent of the state’s total, higher than the national average of 1 percent. The report echoes others showing growth in Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the number of people employed in manufacturing grew 1.3 percent from July 2015 to July 2016. “Wisconsin has a great ecosystem for manufacturing. There are several factors that come into play,” said Tim Wiora, executive director/CEO for the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP). “Our legislators in Wisconsin know that manufac48


turing is important, and they have programs in place to help with that. We also have rich talent and a history of innovation that creates a stronger WIORA atmosphere for manufacturers.” In Wisconsin, Wiora said, the state’s large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as GE, Harley-Davidson and Oshkosh Corp. play a critical role in helping state manufacturers grow. “The OEMs require a rich supply chain, and it’s better for them to have suppliers close by,” he said. “If those companies do the right thing and get connected to an OEM, they can grow into that middle market area.” Wisconsin’s manufacturing growth can also be tied to its location, Wiora said. “We are close to two very large population areas (Chicago and the Twin Cities) and we are right on the Great Lakes, which provides our companies with easy shipping access. That access plays a valuable role in growing exports,” he said. “Since 95 percent of a company’s future (potential) customers lie outside the United States, exporting is important when talking about taking your business to the next level.” While manufacturers make up the largest segment of Wisconsin’s middle market businesses, Jeff Stibel, Dun & Bradstreet’s vice chairman, said the report found some

interesting, if not surprising, trends regarding the manufacturers’ age and product lines. Companies who have been around less than 10 years were more likely to make electronic equipment or components or chemical products, while businesses who have been around for more than 50 years tend to produce fabricated metal products. “The shift in types of products being manufactured suggests how demand for certain goods has changed over time,” he said. Nationwide, middle market companies are leading economic growth, with mid-sized businesses creating 53 percent of all new jobs since 2011. That outpaces growth by both small and large-sized firms, Stibel said. Middle market companies comprise only one percent of U.S. businesses but employ 27 percent of private sector workers.

BY THE NUMBERS According to the Middle Market Power Index, Wisconsin has:

270,005 4,083

businesses with revenues less than $10 million

businesses with revenues between $10 million and $1 billion


businesses with more than $1 billion in revenue

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Next-Generation Manufacturers Benefit from a Legal Partner with Broad Experience in Today’s Modern Industries


he evolution of the manufacturing industry continues to offer both unprecedented opportunities and ever-present challenges for today’s modern manufacturing companies. Globalization, a next-generation workforce and advanced technology have made conducting business more competitive and fast-paced than ever before, while traditional manufacturing still plays a vital role in the industry.

The attorneys at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren know that it is essential for manufacturers to have a strategic legal partner that understands the wide range of complex issues companies face. With a deep bench of talent and attorneys with experience that extends beyond the law— many having worked extensively in the consumer products and manufacturing sectors—we are uniquely prepared to help both new and long-standing manufacturing companies meet these dynamic challenges and extend their success into the 21st century economy. Since the firm’s inception, Reinhart has represented many of the world’s leading consumer goods and industrial manufacturing companies. Today, we serve as strategic advisers to clients worldwide, working with them to capitalize on opportunities and navigate obstacles. With our proven track record of helping manufacturers succeed in challenging business environments for decades, Reinhart is the right partner for today’s modern manufacturing company. We counsel clients in every area of law critical to manufacturing success, including:

• Corporate Law – We provide strategic counsel on complex financial transactions that help companies expand their capabilities, launch new products and grow their facilities. • Intellectual Property – In advanced manufacturing, a strong IP portfolio is critical, and we handle clients’ portfolio management, litigation, protection and enforcement. • International – With global manufacturing more prevalent than ever, we help U.S companies effectively navigate overseas business. • Labor and Employment – With today’s next-generation workforce, there are many dynamic and complex labor issues to manage, including OSHA violations, and wage and hour laws. • Litigation – We litigate in areas such as product liability, intellectual property, employment law, construction, contracts and other matters. • Mergers and Acquisitions – We are exceptionally well-versed in the critical roles that M&A and private equity play in the manufacturing industry, and regularly work to facilitate deals of all sizes and structures.

• Real Estate – We represent manufacturing clients in all aspects of commercial real estate transactions, including acquisition, development, financing, management, leasing and zoning. • Tax – We advise clients on a variety of domestic and international tax matters, keeping them in the most advantageous position possible while addressing challenges. • Business Reorganization – We are well-equipped to help clients go through a reorganization process and emerge in a better position to move their company forward. • Trusts and Estates – A familyowned business brings its own set of challenges, and we counsel on corporate governance, trust services and succession planning.

At Reinhart, we always put our clients first. Visit reinhartlaw.com/manufacturing or call us at 800.553.6215 to learn more.

reinhartlaw.com ⋅ 800.553.6215




Pure science meets the purely practical for Wisconsin inventors



o solve the myriad problems facing our collective future, innovative thinking will lead the way. In Wisconsin, researchers and companies are stepping up to do their part. From predictive cancer treatment to addressing water quality, Wisconsin innovators

are doing their part to make the world a safer, healthier and more economically vibrant place.

PREDICTING THE FUTURE OF CANCER TREATMENT LYNX BIOSCIENCE Predictive medicine may be the future of health care. If proven effective, it will lower health care costs for patients, hospitals and payers, and have a lasting effect on the quality of treatment. Madison-based Lynx Bioscience is one company leading the shift towards predictive medicine with the development of MicroC, an assay that allows researchers to replicate a person’s cancer outside of the body to see how it responds to various treatment therapies. The company was founded by Dr. Chorom Pak, and developed out of her graduate research. “We take a standard biopsy of a person’s cancer cells as well as their normal cells to test which treatments have the potential to be effective,” Pak said. In 2016, the company embarked on a clinical trial using multiple myeloma cancer patients that will be complete by the end of 2017, when another trial is scheduled to begin. Currently, Lynx Bioscience is developing its diagnostic test to already-approved therapies, Pak said. As research continues, Pak and her team hope to form strategic partnerships with 50


pharmaceutical companies interested in obtaining FDA approval for new therapies. “It’s a winwin,” Pak said. “ We c ontinue PAK to validate our technology, and pharmaceutical companies can cut costs by enrolling patients only likely to respond to their specific treatment drug.” The company has taken a more stringent route to FDA approval, but hopes the results will help validate the effectiveness of the technology. “We’re measuring a simple response,” Pak said. “It’s whether cancer cells live or die using a particular therapy.” Other tests are tied to biomarkers or specific genes, but having this type of flexibility will allow Pak and her team to expand the technology to other cancer treatments, she said. Lynx Bioscience is already in negotiations to develop a pilot trial for leukemia.

SMARTER, MORE ACTIVE KIDS ACTIVEEDU Today’s educators crave new ways to engage children, maintain focus and increase activity in their classrooms, and Oshkoshbased ActiveEDU seeks to fulfill that need. ActiveEDU is a platform that streams videos blending learning with active exercise directly into classrooms. The animated videos align with Common Core standards for math, literacy and nutrition. “The videos are designed to reinforce educational content while also getting students up and moving,” said Jordon Rhodes founder of ActiveEDU. “Our goal was to provide teachers with a way to creRHODES ate active breaks within their classroom in a way that aligns with classroom goals.” Rhodes came up with the idea while working in schools for nonprofit organization Junior Achievement. He had a passion for fitness, and saw a need he could fulfill for teachers and for students, he said. ActiveEDU is free to educators and schools. It is funded in each school district by local health care systems. The platform has been proven to not only increase physical activity, but also A product of BizTimes Media


Oshkosh-based ActiveEDU provides educators and students with fun and easy way to “get active” in the classroom, while still adhering to strict Common Core standards

improve academic performance and decrease behavioral issues within classrooms. “They are fun, interactive, and most importantly, engaging and entertaining for the children, Rhodes said. ActiveEDU first piloted the program with students in Neenah, Fond Du Lac, and Oshkosh. Those schools increased weekly active minutes by more than 72 percent, raised cumulative math test scores by 18 percent and decreased behavioral issues by 8 percent. “In one semester we see a student’s average total active minutes increase to approximately 450 – the equivalent of nearly a half a million minutes of total classroom activity,” Rhodes said. wisconsinbiz.com

NORTHERN STAR Jeff Dykes knows firsthand about the relationship between need and innovation. A 20-year veteran of the fire service industry, Dykes often found himself in low-visibility, sometimes dangerous situations. Keeping one’s bearings can mean the difference between life and death. So Dykes created the Northern Star, an eight-directional compass about the size of a quarter that illuminates when the individual using it faces north. It is designed to fit inside the face shield of rescue fire fighters. According to Dykes, captain of the Eau Claire Fire Department, an NREMT paramedic and a certified instructor for the Wisconsin Technical College System, disorientation is the leading cause of death among firefighters worldwide. The Northern Star hands-free firefighter compass is still in preproduction. DYKES Dykes has worked closely with UW-Madison’s IDEAdvance program and the UW-Stout Discovery Center to create appearance models and move towards commercialization. “It’s been a long, bumpy road, trying to shrink the existing technology to fit inside the face shield and still be accurate.” His challenges now solved, Dykes is looking at his manufacturing options. In January, he launched a Kickstarter campaign for individuals and fire departments to purchase the Northern Star for $99.99. Post-Kickstarter, Dykes predicts the cost will go up, but plans to maintain affordability for budgetsensitive emergency crews across the country. So far, the feedback has been phenomenal, D y ke s s a i d . The company is planning a national launch at the FDIC – Fire Department In str u c tor s Conference – in Indianapolis in April 2017.

The Northern Star eight directional compass is small enough to fit inside a firefighter’s face shield and helps alleviate disorientation during a fire–the leading cause of death among firefighters.




The NanoAffix sensor technology quickly and easily tests for contaminants like lead, mercury, arsenic and bacteria in a water source.

SAFE DRINKING WATER FOR ALL NANOAFFIX In 2014, residents of Flint, Michigan experienced what would become one of the worst water crises in modern history. Milwaukee-based NanoAffix Science LLC, a spinoff company formed around patented technologies developed at UW-Milwaukee, has created sensor technology that quickly and easily tests for contaminants like lead, mercury and even bacteria in water. “ Thi s pl atform technology could be a paradigm shift in water quality testing and monitoring,” said Junhong Chen, founder of NanoAffix Science and CHEN distinguished professor at UWM’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. NanoAffix has developed a low-cost, simple alternative to water testing that can be performed at home, without training, for real-time results. Existing infrastructure, ground contaminants and even an individual’s home pipes can contaminate the water before it reaches the tap. 52


Current large-scale testing methods are expensive, take days to get results, and require specialized technicians, Chen said. Additionally, municipalities are only required to conduct a random sampling from taps throughout their service area. The NanoAffix technology uses graphene transistor technology in sensor chips that detects and measures contaminant levels in water and digitally displays the results within seconds. Beta versions of the water-testing product are expected to be available in mid-2017, with a full launch expected before the end of the year. In addition to the handheld at home testers, NanoAffix is working with its partners to develop continuous monitoring devices that can be affixed to products like filters, meters and other hardware. The company has received equity investments from three Wisconsin water manufacturing companies including Milwaukeebased A. O. Smith and Badger Meter, as well as Baker Manufacturing Co. in Evansville, who will manufacturer prototypes within their products. Chen also sees biomedical uses for the technology and is working with partners in that industry.

Matthew Buvala retired from the U.S. Navy in 1999. He grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin and currently operates a part-time farm in Pepin County. Twice a week, Buvala, has to move 500 feet of flexible fencing in order to rotate grazing sites for his free-range chickens. To make his own life easier, Buvala developed a two-wheeled cart that makes the fencing easier to move. Buvala soon realized that others might find his invention useful, so he contacted UW-Stout’s Discovery Center for help bringing it to market. The Center is Stout’s primary outreach and engagement organization and is dedicated to linking the school’s resources with business, industry, and the surrounding community. The Fence Cart can be pulled by hand or hitched to a utility vehicle. One end is anchored, and as the cart rolls, the fencing is cleanly pulled off the angled, two-prong rack, ready for setup. Buvala worked with a team of students at the Discovery Center to advance the design and manufacturing process and reduce the shipping cost of the product, resulting in lowering the retail cost from $475 to $300. The team also streamlined the look and assembly process. Buvala is now seeking a manufacturer to put Fence Cart on the market.

Farmer Matthew Buvala developed a special utility cart to move flexible fencing. With the help of UW-Stout’s Discovery Center, Buvala has commercialized the product.

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INC. 5000 COMPANIES 2016 ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in Wisconsin Approyo 120 Muskego


Americollect 3018 Manitowoc

Midwest Insurance Group 4120 Delafield

3-YEAR GROWTH: 188% REVENUE: $25.4 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 113% REVENUE: $17.5 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 69% REVENUE: $2.2 million

Wellbe 322 Madison

Concurrency 2050 Brookfield

MacDonald & Owen 3134 Sparta

Superior Support Resources 4141 Brookfield

3-YEAR GROWTH: 1201% REVENUE: $2.1 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 182% REVENUE: $18.9 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 108% REVENUE: $55.8 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 68% REVENUE: $8.9 million

Evoke Brand Strategies 325 Madison

Allium IT 2112 Brookfield

Tarantino & Company 3225 Waukesha

Cineviz 4197 Green Bay

3-YEAR GROWTH: 1183% REVENUE: $2.0 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 176% REVENUE: $3.9 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 104% REVENUE: $10.0 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 65% REVENUE: $3.8 million

Product Cloud 541 Mequon

Wonderbox Technologies 2238 Mequon

Tim O’Brien Homes 3366 Pewaukee

Symmetry 4223 Brookfield

3-YEAR GROWTH: 715% REVENUE: $10.0 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 162% REVENUE: $19.0 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 98% REVENUE: $71.1 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 64% REVENUE: $24.2 million

Penrod 550 Milwaukee


Drexel Building Supply 3718 Campbellsport

HNI 4324 New Berlin

3-YEAR GROWTH: 704% REVENUE: $2.4 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 157% REVENUE: $11.2 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 83% REVENUE: $117.8 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 62% REVENUE: $27.8 million

Neumann Companies 1031 Pewaukee

Best Defense Security & Fire 2416 Waunakee

Singlewire Software 3830 Madison

TASC 4512 Madison

3-YEAR GROWTH: 384% REVENUE: $22.4 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 149% REVENUE: $4.5 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 79% REVENUE: $18.9 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 56% REVENUE: $98.7 million


GSF Mortgage 2483 Brookfield

Vehicle Security Innovators 3843 Green Bay

Ascedia 4590 Milwaukee

3-YEAR GROWTH: 337% REVENUE: $3.3 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 144% REVENUE: $17.1 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 78% REVENUE: $11.1 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 53% REVENUE: $6.6 million

Nordic 1459 Madison

Chandra Technologies 2519 Madison

ARMR.Network 3862 Middleton

MARS IT 4626 Wauwatosa

3-YEAR GROWTH: 263% REVENUE: $137.1 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 141% REVENUE: $5.4 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 78% REVENUE: $2.2 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 52% REVENUE: $5.8 million

Concero Search Partners 1470 Madison

Stella & Chewy’s 2783 Oak Creek

Midwest Prototyping 3886 Blue Mounds

3-YEAR GROWTH: 261% REVENUE: $2.6 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 126% REVENUE: $38.9 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 77% REVENUE: $4.5 million

Enviro-Safe Resource 4632 Recovery

1777 Brookfield

2822 Brookfield

3977 Mayville

3-YEAR GROWTH: 210% REVENUE: $31.6 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 123% REVENUE: $66.9 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 73% REVENUE: $305.0 million

1799 Madison

2875 Milwaukee

3-YEAR GROWTH: 207% REVENUE: $10.7 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 120% REVENUE: $13.6 million

ZMac Transportation Solutions

1869 Janesville


3-YEAR GROWTH: 199% REVENUE: $72.7 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 118% REVENUE: $3.2 million


3016 Verona


3-YEAR GROWTH: 113% REVENUE: $22.7 million

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Breckenridge Landscape New Berlin

Patina Solutions


Data Dimensions

Information Technology Professionals 3-YEAR GROWTH: 197% REVENUE: $4.5 million


Delta Defense

West Bend

Annex Wealth Management Elm Grove

Briohn Building



River Falls

Synergy Consortium Services

Mayville Engineering Co.



3-YEAR GROWTH: 52% REVENUE: $4.9 million

Fox World Travel 4659 Oshkosh 3-YEAR GROWTH: 51% REVENUE: $22.3 million


i3 Product Development 4835 Sun Prairie

3-YEAR GROWTH: 73% REVENUE: $12.9 million

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bb7 4091 Madison

Quest CE 4836 Milwaukee

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MECA & Technology Machine 4869 Green Bay

New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glaurus

3-YEAR GROWTH: 69% REVENUE: $53.0 million

3-YEAR GROWTH: 45% REVENUE: $9.6 million




LIFETIME ACHIEVERS Working adults forge brighter futures in the classroom BY ALYSHA SCHERTZ


eginning in 2008, the American economy suffered the biggest downturn since the Great Depression: stocks plummeted, jobs were lost and unemployment peaked at 10 percent.

For many college graduates during the Great Recession, this meant staying in school –

deferring those student loans and gaining classroom experience in the form of MBAs, Ph.D.s and other advanced degrees. For many working adults, it meant losing their livelihood through downsizing and layoffs as their employers tried to stay afloat.

Fast forward nine years and those effects are still being felt. Today, unemployment levels are below 5 percent, but those same working adults now find themselves competing in the workforce with millennial and generation X employees who have fresh degrees and knowledge that give them an automatic edge. A study by Georgetown University projected that between the years of 2008 and 2018, Wisconsin will have a total of 925,000 job vacancies between new job creation and retirement. According to the study, nearly 560,000 of those jobs will require postsecondary credentials. Wisconsin educational institutions are meeting the need with programs specifically designed for busy, working adults.

BACK TO THE WORKFORCE Karen Eisenberger earned her associate degree in hospitality management from Waukesha County Technical College some 20 years ago, and worked in travel and hospitality before stepping back from her career to raise her family. 54


As her three children got older, Eisenberger began to think about going back to work. “I think I wanted more choices,” she said. “I wanted to do something more, gain those skills I needed.” Eisenberger enrolled in Milwaukee-based

KAREN EISENBERGER Bachelor’s, business management (MBA in progress) Alverno College

“ I didn’t want to come to a door – a job or career I wanted – and have that door shut because I didn’t have the education.” — Karen Eisenberger, Alverno College student

Alverno College’s AA to BA program in 2014. The school’s accelerated, flexible structure was appealing to her. “Even though the workload was quite extensive, the one week in class, one week online timetable was appealing,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want entirely online; I needed that classroom interaction.” When she started, all of her children were still at home. Eisenberger relied heavily on family support to help her achieve her goal,

but the flexible schedule offered at Alverno made it a lot easier. Eisenberger graduated in May – 18 months after enrolling. She also earned a job at FIS. She is not quite finished, though; Eisenberger will earn her MBA from Alverno in two years. “I didn’t want to come to a door – a job or career I wanted – and have that door shut because I didn’t have the education,” she said. Long-term, Eisenberger is still deciding A product of BizTimes Media

what she wants to do. Right now, she knows her education won’t be the reason she can’t achieve her goals.

BEYOND THE ASSEMBLY LINE For seven years, Patrick Steinke worked on the operating floor for Marathon-based Marathon Cheese Corp. While he didn’t mind it, his days were repetitive and his options limited. He ultimately decided he wanted more. Steinke spoke with the maintenance crew at Marathon because he thought the work they did might be a good fit for him. As a

Shortly after, a position for an electromechanical technician opened up at Marathon Cheese. Despite having just enrolled in the NTC degree program, Steinke applied for the position. With retention in mind, company leaders hired Steinke for the position under the condition he’d sign a contract agreeing to finish his degree and remain with the company for a certain period of time. For more than a year now, Steinke has been a part of the third shift maintenance team at Marathon Cheese while attending school – now full-time, during the day. “It’s been great to have instructors to learn from and ask questions about real-life things I encounter on the job,” Steinke said. He noted that he has been able to take the

“It’s been great to have instructors to learn from and ask questions about real-life things I encounter on the job.” — Patrick Steinke, Northcentral Technical College

PATRICK STEINKE Associate degree, electromechanical technology (in progress) Northcentral Technical College

teen, Steinke loved working with his hands; he loved taking things apart, putting things back together and repairing small tools and engines in his parents’ garage. He learned that he would need more advanced training to make a move. In August 2015, Steinke enrolled in Northcentral Technical College’s electromechanical technology associate degree program. wisconsinbiz.com

skills he learns during the day and directly apply them to his work at Marathon Cheese. The depth and breadth of knowledge of the NTC instructors, all former field professionals, has been invaluable. “They understand the work environment and know that things aren’t always perfect. What they teach me, I can take right to work and apply – which is nice.” The new position comes with incremental pay increases and a lot more responsibility, which Steinke doesn’t mind. He plans to finish his degree next year.

RECESSION RECOVERY PLAN Karen Nelson was earning six figures as a human resources professional at Shaw Industries Group Inc. in Dalton, Georgia. When the recession hit in 2009, she found herself one of thousands being laid off from the hard-hit company. For the next six years, Nelson found herself fluctuating between unemployed and grossly underemployed.

KAREN NELSON Bachelor’s, chemistry Bennett College for Women EMBA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

“I was at my wit’s end,” Nelson said. “It was extremely difficult.” Nelson grew up in an educated, middleclass family. She never wanted for anything, she said. As a working professional, she had always been able to leave a job and find another within weeks. During the recession, it was different. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. “What I heard with some consistency was, ‘If you only had a master’s degree,’” she said. Nelson applied for hundreds of jobs without success; eventually, she lost her home and moved back to Wisconsin. “As I was struggling with unemployment, those graduating college were earning their master’s degrees,” she said. “They got a leg up on me, and that’s when it hit me square in the face.” Her severance and savings exhausted, Nelson completed a year of service with AmeriCorps in 2015, earning a $5,500 educational grant. She decided to go back to school. That September, Nelson began the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s 17-month EMBA program. She completed her degree in December 2016. Today, Nelson is a successful consultant who serves as a chief diversity officer on a contract basis. Her clients include Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc., Molina Healthcare, Milwaukee Public Schools, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. and others. 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ



Above: Biomedical science students considering the placement of the organs of the digestive system


on their mannequin. Right: Digital electronic students build and troubleshoot electrical circuits.

STRONG STEM curriculum builds momentum in Wisconsin BY ALYSHA SCHERTZ


he growth rate of STEM jobs is more than double that for other jobs in Wisconsin. A Georgetown University study predicts that nearly 160,000 Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)-related jobs will be created in the state by 2018.

While organizations throughout Wisconsin promote STEM education, K-12, higher educa-

tion, government and the public and private sectors need to work together to increase the quantity, quality and diversity of proficient workers to fill these jobs of the future.

“Wisconsin has always had a very forward-thinking, tremendous educational system. School districts across the state recognize that STEM careers are driving the future economy and no matter what career path students take, STEM is going to impact 56


them one way or another,” said Joseph Miotke, attorney at Milwaukee-based DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C. and statewide leadership chair for Project Lead the Way Wisconsin. “Wisconsin has been more proactive than a lot of other states, in my opinion, and has been will-

ing to take on this challenge.” PLTW is one of the largest science, technology, engineering and math K-12 educational programs in the U.S. MIOTKE In Wi sc onsin , PLTW is leading STEM initiatives, having served more than 500,000 students in more than 500 programs throughout the state, Miotke said. PLTW provides students access to realworld, applied learning experiences. The proA product of BizTimes Media

grams are designed to be plug-and-play in a school’s traditional curriculum and help students develop in-demand skills like problem solving, critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication. In Wisconsin, PLTW plans to make its programs even more available, particularly in underserved areas of the state, Miotke said. Miotke is quick to point out that Project Lead the Way is not the only program in Wisconsin tackling STEM education head on. PLTW often works in conjunction with other programs like First Robotics, Rube Goldberg and The Einstein Project, to name a few. “There are several incredibly wonderful programs in the state, each with their own strengths that fill gaps created by others,” Miotke said. “By design, none of these are to the exclusion of others – it’s about lifting and promoting students to garner interest in STEM programs and ultimately, STEM careers.” Miotke believes the drive to promote STEM programs to young learners has never been more important. Studies show students, particularly young girls, self-select whether STEM is for them as early as third grade. “Reaching children early is critical to the success of our future workforce,” Miotke said. “Everybody learns differently, and in some instances traditional learning environments might turn off students who could turn out to be extraordinary engineers or medical scientists or computer programmers. That is the tragedy – because that student didn’t connect with a science class or a math class in first or second grade. That’s why programs like PLTW and others who reach children in a fun, interactive way are so important.” wisconsinbiz.com

Maker Faire Milwaukee hosted “The Hand of Man” exhibit in 2016. The giant hydraulic mechanical hand was created by Christian Ristow, a former Muppet creator, and is controlled using an ergonomic glove.


The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee has played an integral role in expanding the “maker” movement and project-based learning opportunities in the community. In partnership with Milwaukee Makerspace, the museum produces Maker Faire Milwaukee, a multi-day destination event that celebrates technology, education, science, art, engineering, food and sustainability.

“The museum’s core mission is to promote hands-on educational experiences and early learning in children of all ages,” said Carrie Wettstein, chief operating officer of Betty Brinn and producer of Maker Faire Milwaukee. “The impact of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) has been shown in Continued on page 58



Above: The giant hydraulic mechanical hand in action. Right: Winners of the 2015 GE Design & Build Challenge. Students had three hours to make something out of nothing and address a real-world challenge.

tured Faires are held in Detroit, New York, Berlin, Paris, Taipei City and Shenzen, China. The Maker Faire welcomes companies, makers, tech enthusiasts, inventors, crafters, educators and tinkerers of all ages to exhibit work and share with the maker community, Wettstein said.

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Last year, Maker Faire Milwaukee featured a Drone Xperience exhibit, Tesla Coils, a Power Racing Series and demonstrations of The Hand of Man, a giant, hydraulic mechanical hand controlled using a glove. classroom after classroom,” she noted. “Students are motivated to learn on their own, to problemsolve and to be collaborative and creative. The museum and the Faire are helping to develop skills in students for the jobs of the future.” Research indicates children begin forming likes and dislikes at a very early age. Exposing students to STEM activities and experiences early can develop their interests in related careers later on. Maker Faire Milwaukee, now in its fourth year, is held annually at Wisconsin State Fair Park. According to Wettstein, the Milwaukee event is one of approximately 12 in the U.S. and has quickly grown to be one of the largest, with nearly 50,000 attendees in 2016. All events are family-friendly and encourage learning at all levels. Other fea-



The Faire also has brought the Life Size Mousetrap to the region, in addition to workshops with NASA and demonstrations by local robotics teams and STEM students and teachers. Beyond promoting project-based learning in children, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum seeks to educate adults about how students learn and the value of a project-based education. Maker Faire Milwaukee has helped promote that initiative. “The maker movement encourages learning by doing, sharing and collaboration, self-motivation and experimentation,” Wettstein said. “In addition to work being done by Milwaukee Makerspace, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and our other collaborative partners, the Maker Faire promotes that experience in the form of a fun, family-friendly event for people of all ages.”

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Findorff Builds opportunities for students .

Findorff’s Education Team serves the K-12 and higher education markets by partnering with schools to help them identify facility goals and construct quality buildings that enhance the learning experience. We are privileged to currently be engaged in over 60 schools throughout the state. VISIT findorff.com to learn more about our work in the education market!


wisconsin's technical colleges We are futuremakers




Wisconsin’s business partner to

INNOVATE AND INSPIRE Wisconsin's Technical Colleges are delivering the state’s next generation of talent. Through innovative career pathways, we help people balance work, school and life. Our students can get the hard and soft skills they need to thrive in a great career. Nearly all (97 percent) Wisconsin employers we surveyed say the technical colleges are important to the success of their business. In part, because our graduates are skilled and prepared for success. Apprenticeships are also alive and well,with an increase in participation of 32 percent since 2013. The median annual salary for 2014-15 apprentices was $67,595. Our students have the drive, work ethic and skills to lead the way.

“The technical college has been a great partner and part of the solution in our county by providing a business-driven advanced manufacturing curriculum.” Thorsten Wienss, President Trace-A-Matic.

“Two of our original three employees are technical college graduates. You start with a great foundation and endure with it. We’re proud to have hired many more technical college grads over the years.” Roger Norber, President, Thomas Precision

Learn more: http://www.wistechcolleges.org/employer-resources


YP Week 2016.

THE RETAINERS Working to keep and attract a vibrant workforce BY LEAH CALL


isconsin is home to approximately 5.7 million people, with about half – almost 3 million – in the workforce. The state also retains a good chunk of its college graduates; approximately 60 percent those who received a bachelor’s

or advanced degree from one of the state’s public or private institutions are Wisconsin residents, according to a 2013 report by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But the supply-anddemand challenge remains. Wisconsin ranks low for in-migration and high for the number of baby boomers nearly ready to retire.

Filling the impending employment void presents familiar challenges. According to Department of Workforce Development Bureau of Workforce Information and Technical Support projections, an estimated 46,000 positions will be unfilled by the year 2022. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), UW System, Wisconsin Technical College System 62


(WTCS) and others are working to find ways to keep young professionals living and working in Wisconsin. “It used to be referred to as a skills gap, but more and more the demographics are shifting to where it is simply a people gap,” said Kelly Lietz, marketing and brand strategy vice president at WEDC. “There just aren’t the people available to do the jobs that businesses are

creating, which has led to lots of conversations between WEDC, employers, our economic development partners on the ground and educational institutions across the board.” CONNECTING TALENT TO CAREERS Developing and retaining the state’s future workforce is a primary focus of the UW System’s 2020FWD plan. “Education doesn’t start when you hit a tech college or university, it starts when you leave the cradle. So the first piece of that strategic plan is the educational pipeline and our partnerships with K-12 and other entities. We want to make sure we are collaborating, so that we are able to get kids thinking about college and career options in grade school and middle school. By the time they get to high school, they have the ability to start to A product of BizTimes Media

specialize,” explained David Brukardt, associate vice president of economic development for the UW System, with offices at both UW and WEDC. Once in high school, college prep classes give students a jumpstart both in terms of career preparation and college affordability. “By the time students get to a tech college or university, they might have as much as a year or more of their higher ed work finished already,” Brukardt said. The UW System is the largest component of the Wisconsin higher education pipeline, graduating some 36,000 students annually. Career Connect, part of the 2020 plan, is a new website that connects students to internship and job shadowing opportunities. “Our estimate is that about half of the students already have an internship or mentorship before they graduate,” said Brukardt. “Our goal is to move that up to 100 percent. Internships greatly enhance hireability and retention.” WCTS graduated nearly 26,000 students in 2015 from 16 schools. “Ultimately, talent goes or stays where career opportunities exist. For us, strong employer engagement in our programs is our number one strategy for keeping graduates here,” said Morna Foy, WCTS president. Both systems are part of the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment, which has made recommendations that include tax incentives and rebates for graduates who stay in the state. “Hopefully, that and other recommendations will be under discussion again this biennium,” Brukardt said. CONNECTING TALENT TO COMMUNITY Young professionals organizations are working to make Wisconsin even stickier, with the additional goal of attracting new talent from outside the state. Adrienne Palm is working toward those goals in the Fox Cities through her work with PULSE, a young professionals network supported by the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce. Palm, a young professional herself, never envisioned living and working in Appleton. “I moved here when I was 20 years old,” she said. “I never saw myself living in a community this size, but eventually I fell in love with it and became incredibly passionate about it.” “The reality is that YPs are drawn to the cultural amenities a larger city has,” Palm said. “We have an opportunity to create some of those same cultural benefits even wisconsinbiz.com

Adrienne Palm of Fox Cities PULSE addresses attendees at YP Week 2016.

in smaller communities.” That vision takes center stage during YP Week, a statewide, weeklong collaborative initiative that connects YPs with community leaders and peers engaging in meaningful conversation for change. The event was started in 2012 by Angela Damiani, chief executive officer of NEWaukee, a social architecture firm that helps corporations with talent attraction and retention. “We were hearing the same things from our clients around the issue of millennial attraction,” said Damiani. “So we developed YP Week, which was really a gateway or a golden key for YPs in the city of Milwaukee to find everything they need: access to leadership, places to work and live, community access.” Participation in Milwaukee’s YP Week grew from 1,000 to 4,000 participants in just three years. In 2015, YP Week expanded. This year, 36 YP organizations across the state will take part in YP Week. Engaging young people in the community is the key to retention efforts, Damiani said. “Ensuring the people already there, the millennials in a community who are wholeheartedly choosing that location, have a mechanism to make improvements or to change things that they see as important is super critical.”

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS Young people’s perception of the opportunities in Wisconsin is another challenge. “We’ve done a great job of marketing our state as a cheese state, but people aren’t thinking about the innovation going on here,” Lietz said. ”Students aren’t naming things like bioscience or manufacturing or financial services – all these things that are truly assets of our state. We’ve got to fix that.” To change that perception, WEDC rolled out a new brand statement –Think-MakeHappen in Wisconsin – at the Future Wisconsin Economic Summit. “This shared communication platform is designed to help us better articulate the value that Wisconsin offers from a professional and personal fulfillment standpoint,” Lietz said. NEWaukee, YP groups, employers, communities and secondary educational institutions are embracing the statement. “If we all get behind a common message, we can change how people, particularly young people and those looking for career opportunities, perceive the State of Wisconsin,” he said. “Jobs aren’t enough. Young people can go anywhere and find a job. We need to excite young people about the high quality of life, the low cost of living and all of the things that would put Wisconsin into consideration for where they will pursue the next chapter of their life.” 201 7 WISCONSINBIZ




Universities and Colleges Enrollment (2016)




2,209 1,394 3,176 3,503 2,600 8,268 2,800 3,450 1,523 2,099 11,294 1,385 600 840 2,211 500 2,677 1,200

1,558 1,394 1,975 3,013 2,600 4,140 1,900 850 1,523 1,553 8,238 860 600 840 2,102 500 1,826 1,200


Technical and Professional Enrollment (2015)


Alverno College Beloit College Cardinal Stritch University Carroll University Carthage College Concordia University Wisconsin Edgewood College Lakeland College Lawrence University Marian University Marquette University Mount Mary University Northland College Ripon College Saint Norbert College Silver Lake College of the Holy Family Viterbo University Wisconsin Lutheran College

Universities Enrollment (2015-2016) UW-Eau Claire UW-Green Bay UW-La Crosse UW-Madison UW-Milwaukee UW-Oshkosh UW-Parkside UW-Platteville UW-River Falls UW-Stevens Point UW-Stout UW-Superior UW-Whitewater

1,201 490 4,128 900 2,600 546 3,056 525

10,531 6,779 10,486 43,064 27,119 14,059 4,443 8,950 5,958 9,255 9,535 2,489 12,351



9,956 6,528 9,702 31,365 22,284 12,710 4,300 7,983 5,507 8,857 8,388 2,362 11,142

575 251 784 11699 4,835 1,349 143 967 451 398 1,147 127 1,209




Universities Enrollment (2014-2015)


UW-Baraboo/Sauk County 538 UW-Barron 578 Bellin College of Nursing 374 332 42 UW-Fond du Lac 594 Columbia College of Nursing 149 149 UW-Fox Valley 1,557 Herzing University 6,000 6,000 UW-Manitowoc 478 Medical College of Wisconsin 1,200 1,200 UW-Marathon County 978 Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design 740 740 UW-Marinette 465 Milwaukee School of Engineering 2,880 2,675 205 UW-Marshfield/Wood County 649 Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology 13 13 UW-Richland 528 UW-Rock County 1,155 Tribal Colleges Enrollment Undergraduate UW-Sheboygan 727 (2015) UW-Washington County 869 College of Menominee Nation 433 433 UW-Waukesha 2,085 Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College 303 303 Online courses 2,351 Source: University of Wisconsin System, Office of Policy Analysis and Research

WISCONSIN TECHNICAL COLLEGE SYSTEM 2013-2014 ENROLLMENT Blackhawk Technical College Beloit Janesville

8,469 Monroe

Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland Plymouth Manitowoc Sheboygan

Chippewa Valley Technical College 14,415 Chippewa Falls Menomonie River Falls Eau Claire Neillsville

Madison Area Technical College Fort Atkinson Portage Madison Reedsburg

Fox Valley Technical College Appleton Oshkosh


Gateway Technical College Burlington Kenosha Elkhorn Racine



Moraine Park Technical College Beaver Dam Fond du Lac

16,223 West Bend

Southwest Technical College Fennimore


Waukesha County Technical College Pewaukee Waukesha


36,714 Watertown

Nicolet Area Technical College Minocqua Rhinelander


Mid-state Technical College Adams Stevens Point Wisconsin Rapids Marshfield


Northcentral Technical College Antigo Phillips Medford Spencer

17,092 Wausau Wittenberg

Western Technical College Black River Falls Mauston Independence Sparta La Crosse Tomah

Milwaukee Area Technical College Mequon Oak Creek Milwaukee West Allis


Northeast Technical College Crivitz Marinette Green Bay Niagara Luxemburg Oconto

37,943 Shawano Sturgeon Bay

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College 20,251 Ashland Rice Lake New Richmond Superior

11,857 Viroqua

Source: Wisconsin Technical College System, September 2014 64


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Optimizing your investment in employee development — By Joseph Weitzer, PhD


enjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Without context, one might assume Franklin was attempting to inspire his contemporaries and the generations that followed regarding the value of traditional education. In fact, Franklin was an advocate for more technical and practical training methods and his inspiration was directed to the value of constantly becoming more knowledgeable. Most successful leaders align with Franklin’s philosophy, recognizing that ongoing investment in training supports knowledge acquisition and skills enhancement in the workforce. While a formal education is important, ongoing training fosters the development of specialized skills essential to improving performance, innovation and the organization’s bottom line. Despite the obvious benefits, there is a huge variance in what similar-sized organizations invest in employee training. Each of the most frequently cited reasons for delaying investment presents an interesting paradox.

The Investment Paradox •

The cost of the training is too high. This is the most frequently stated reason for delaying a training initiative. If the cost is tied to a strategic objective or opportunity for improvement, then one might ask, “What is the cost of not doing the training?” The paradox here is that doing nothing contin-

ues to cost the organization. While some of those costs can be quantified monetarily, the disruptions caused by avoidance can have a lasting effect on employee productivity, engagement and retention. Investing in workforce development will lead to turnover. The current talent shortages create an increasingly more competitive market for better trained employees. The reality is that refusing to train your workforce can lead to complacency, obsolescence and the loss of the most skilled and motivated employees. Conversely, ongoing investments in skills enhancement will attract workers motivated by the opportunity to constantly learn and improve. Past training hasn’t fixed the issue. Presuming training alone would be the solution to any problem is short-sighted. A good training program provides the methodology, tools and opportunity to practice as a means of fostering understanding and enhancing desired skills, but the catalyst to improved performance is on-the-job coaching and feedback. This is where leadership and training intersect to produce lasting results.

WCTC’s Center for Business Performance Solutions (CBPS) has supported business performance by providing relevant, innovative, high quality and educationally sound training programs that contribute to business growth by enhancing productivity and profitability, organizational performance, and employee skill and morale.

CBPS’ highly-trained team works to ensure its customers have clearly defined learning objectives aligned to strategy prior to developing customized solutions. It offers the following strategies to help organizations optimize performance on their investment

Overcoming the paradox 1. Tie training to your strategic plan. What new skills, competencies and processes will be needed to effectively execute the strategy? Ensure that the training investment is the training needed. 2. Make talent management and employee development a strategic objective. Are we making the right training investments—in the right people—to effectively achieve desired results? Investments in workforce development have been tied to employee retention when associated training is valued by the organization. 3. Hold trainers accountable for desired outcomes. How will they be measured? What will be done to ensure success? There is a science to achieving the “right” outcomes. 4. Hold leaders accountable for coaching improvement. What is the role of leadership in coaching relative to the desired training outcomes? How do we ensure training benefits both the employee and the organization?

Take control of your future by making the right investments in your workforce with the right training partner—the Center for Business Performance Solutions.

For more information on optimizing the performance of your team, contact CBPS at 262-695-7828 or cbps.info@wctc.edu.