Page 1



“What we see depends mainly on what we are looking for.” –JOHN LUBBOCK

DeWitt attorneys are creative in their approaches to solving our clients’ needs.

At DeWitt, we utilize our creativity to offer proactive and effective legal advice in more than 30 areas of law while serving publicly and privately held companies, individual clients, familyowned businesses, municipalities and more. With more than 115 attorneys practicing in Wisconsin and Minnesota, our firm handles matters for clients nationwide.

When you need a trusted, full-service law firm, please visit our website at or email for more information. MADISON



Need big-picture perspective? Try the view from Baird.

Experts living and working on three continents give Baird truly global reach and an informed view of the world’s most active markets. This doesn’t just benefit our institutional clients. It enhances the wealth management and investment advice we give to families, businesses and communities right here in Milwaukee, where we’ve been a trusted local financial partner since . 414-765-3500 Milwaukee


Private Wealth Management

San Francisco



Capital Markets – Investment Banking

©2015 Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated. Member SIPC. MC-43406.


Private Equity

Asset Management




elcome to our fourth annual edition of WisconsinBiz Magazine. It’s been an exciting time to follow Wisconsin’s business climate. Our state is making a focused effort to attract and retain companies and talent here, including tax credits like the Qualified New Business Venture Program that rewards early stage investors and the Manufacturing and Agriculture tax credit that virtually eliminates corporate taxes on Wisconsin’s two largest industries. But some of the most promising – and profitable – economic development is happening at the regional and local level. Wisconsin is divided into nine distinct economic development regions. Each has distinct strengths and challenges as it strives to make a strong showing for the 21st century, and the biggest successes have been achieved when cities, companies, civic organizations and individuals come together.

With that in mind, this year’s WisconinBiz theme is “Connected” and we’re excited to share some powerful stories of intra-regional cooperation that have resulted in good things, from the creation of innovative manufacturing clusters for the water, defense and aviation industries to a shovel-ready site certification program and the revitalization of one of the state’s historic small cities.

Dan Meyer, publisher

I encourage you to sit down and spend a little time with WisconsinBiz 2016; it’s worth the read. Additional print copies can be requested throughout the year by calling the BizTimes Media office at 414-277-8181. You can also find these articles and a complete digital edition at If you’d like to share your own thoughts about WisconsinBiz, feel free to email me at Sincerely, DAN MEYER PUBLISHER, BIZTIMES MEDIA LLC



A product of BizTimes Media


IN WISCONSIN (AND BEYOND) At American Family Insurance, we’re empowering people to fearlessly pursue their dreams and carefully protect them, too. That’s why we’re fueling the aspirations of entrepreneurs and businesses throughout Wisconsin and beyond.

Let us be your catalyst for what’s next. American Family Ventures — Business Accelerator —

Pursuing your business dream is a lot easier with a passionate partner.

American Family Mutual Insurance Company, American Family Insurance Company, American Standard Insurance Company of Ohio, American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin, American Family Life Insurance Company, 6000 American Parkway, Madison, WI 53783 ©2015 010693 – 5/15

TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S 2 Publisher’s Note 6 A letter from Gov. Scott Walker 8 Message from WEDC



12 MADRep 14 Milwaukee 7 18 New North 22 7 Rivers Alliance/Prosperity Southwest 24 Momentum West/Centergy 26 Grow North/Visions Northwest 28 Unlikely bedfellows: unique partnerships drive economic growth 43 Directory: Wisconsin EDCs




54 Start me up: incubators and accelerators aren’t just for high tech 58 Directory: Resources for startups 62 Northern migration: Illinois companies flock to Wisconsin 64 Wisconsin by the numbers 66 Exports on the rise 68 Good to know: Wisconsin’s QNBV tax incentives

71 85


72 Big ideas in Wisconsin research 81 The real economic impact of bioscience


86 Advanced Manufacturing 88 Banking & Finance 90 Healthcare & Insurance 94 Bioscience 96 Water

98 Food & Agriculture 104 Transportation & Logistics 106 Energy & Automation 108 Tourism



114 Tech College System: focused on Wisconsin’s workforce 115 The “promise” of an education 116 Up to date: Wisconsin scales up rapid degree programs 118 Growth through alliance: private universities partner with business 120 Five-year plan: private college presidents share their vision 124 Directory: Wisconsin colleges and universities

Cover map couresty of Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey

2016 WISCONSINBIZ SPONSORED REPORTS Marquette University............................................................................................... REGIONS Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) ..............................................................................................ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UW-Milwaukee.......................................................................................................RESEARCH



16 45 82

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board............................................. FOOD & AGRICULTURE 100 WCTC Center for Business Excellence.................................................... INNOVATION 125 Wisconsin Technical College System........................................................ EDUCATION 126

A product of BizTimes Media


A DIFFERENT KIND OF HEALTH PLAN Finding health insurance for your employees isn’t what it used to be. You have to sort out more health care changes, requirements and industry jargon than ever before. At Network Health, we cut through the clutter and provide unique products and services designed for Wisconsin employers like you. Co-owned by Froedtert Health and Ministry Health Care, we understand choosing a plan is about balancing the right doctors, benefits and costs. Isn’t it time you experienced a different kind of health insurance? Let us help you today. 800-276-8004 HMO plans underwritten by Network Health Plan. POS plans underwritten by Network Health Insurance Corporation, or Network Health Insurance Corporation and Network Health Plan. Self-funded plans administered by Network Health Administrative Services, LLC. SAL-321-01-3/16




ore people are employed than at nearly any other time in our state’s history, according to one report from the federal government. Moreover, at 68 percent, our state’s labor force participation rate is 5.4 points better than the national rate, putting Wisconsin in the top 10 states in America. Businesses across the state are taking advantage of Wisconsin’s talented labor force, reliable infrastructure, industry expertise and strong economic fundamentals, including the largest rainy day fund in our state’s history and a fully funded pension system – one of only two in the nation.

We understand that the way you increase productivity is not by taxing it. That’s why we’ve reduced the tax burden on Governor Scott Walker small businesses, allowing them to invest more into their companies and to expand their workforces. Our Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit recognizes the important role these two industries play in creating a competitive advantage for our state, virtually eliminating the corporate tax rate on income from qualified production activities for these vital industries. We’re also making it easier and more affordable for students and workers to develop the skills they need and receive the training necessary not only to excel in today’s workplace, but also to fulfill the demands of our ever-evolving economy. Perhaps the greatest reflection of Wisconsin’s comeback is the optimism I encounter from business and community leaders across the state who have embraced the possibilities the future holds. We are grateful to them, and to you, for your commitment to moving Wisconsin forward.


126 N. Jefferson St., Suite 403 Milwaukee, WI 53202-6120 PHONE: 414-277-8181 FAX: 414-277-8191 WEBSITE: CIRCULATION E-MAIL: REPRINTS: ADDITIONAL COPIES:

$15.00 each





Leah Call, Mark Crawford, Martin Hintz, MaryBeth Matzek, Bridgette McCormick, Jim Price, Rich Rovito, Alysha Schertz and Andrew Weiland ART DIRECTOR:



Linda Maribeth Lynch................ Amber Kevin Maggie Pinnt............. Christie DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS:


Sarah Sinsky..............


PRINTING: J.B. Kenehan Printing

© 2016 BizTimes Media



A product of BizTimes Media



A Mark R. Hogan

STAY SUCCESSFUL Expect a Complete Meeting Experience at Marcus Hotels & Resorts Your success doesn’t stop when the meeting is over. At Marcus Hotels, we’ll make sure your entire experience is a fulfilling investment. Explore three diverse downtown properties, each one featuring modern equipment, quality spaces and creative dining. | 414.390.4646 Mason Street Grill Café at The Pfister Blu

Milwaukee ChopHouse Miller Time Pub & Grill

nyone who works in economic development quickly learns how far-reaching the impact of a single business investment can be. Newly relocated or expanded companies often employ local construction services to build and outfit their new facilities. New local vendor relationships are established to support growing operations. Newly added workers shop at local retailers. The area’s tax base rises, providing resources for community services, raising the quality of life for citizens far and wide. Thriving communities draw additional business investment and families whose skills serve as fuel for yet new business opportunities. For these reasons, each business “transaction” the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) or our 600-plus network partners support needs to be viewed as a catalyst for economic growth.

Taking an expansive view of the prosperity-generating potential of sound economic development practices, WEDC recently realigned its services and resources around five strategic pillars. We believe these pillars – strategic economic competitiveness; business development; community and economic opportunity; business, investment and talent attraction; and brand development and management – provide the foundation for a bright Wisconsin future, building upon an economic development approach that is both comprehensive and multifaceted. WEDC’s core strategies are also mutually dependent. For example, as we seek to spur business growth within Wisconsin, we regularly hear from employers that one of their biggest challenges is finding qualified workers for existing and projected jobs. We understand jobs alone do not attract workers, especially when it comes to highly qualified young professionals whose decisions relating to where to reside are driven largely by lifestyle and quality of life factors. Economic development, talent development and community development, in WEDC’s view, are intricately linked and must receive significant attention in our collective efforts to build and maintain a strong Wisconsin economy. I am encouraged by the collaboration I see among business, community, academic and economic development stakeholders throughout the state who are fully committed to advancing Wisconsin’s long history of forward thinking. Congratulations to the participants in the many economic development success stories discussed in these pages. They represent the hundreds of individuals and businesses throughout the state helping to write Wisconsin’s next chapter. MARK R. HOGAN SECRETARY AND CEO, WISCONSIN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Kil@wat CLEAR



A product of BizTimes Media



We believe that with the right partner, your business can grow without the growing pains. That’s why we remain dedicated to putting customers first with exceptional service and solutions tailored to you. Stop by or visit

*FDIC 2015 U.S. Bank Branch Summary of Deposits; deposit market share increase from June 30, 2014, to June 30, 2015. Source: FDIC market share data as of June 30, 2015. Member FDIC.



Corporate | Labor & Employment | Litigation | Real Estate & Construction

At the intersection of your legal hurdles and your objectives is a law firm rooted in Wisconsin and understanding of your needs. With experience in every Wisconsin industry cluster and the span of corporate law services, Davis & Kuelthau, s.c. is well-positioned to help you succeed—whether a sole proprietorship or a multinational Fortune 500 company. BROOKFIELD | GREEN BAY | MILWAUKEE



isconsin is divided into nine vibrant economic development regions, each with its own flavor and set of economic strengths. In the 2016 edition of WisconsinBiz, we explore how regional partnerships have spurred economic growth and closer relationships between education, government, commerce and community.





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 MAJOR EMPLOYERS:

American Family Insurance, Associated Milk Producers, Inc., Beloit Health Systems, Colony Brands, Inc., Del Monte Foods, Divine Savior Healthcare, Epic Systems Corp., Fort Healthcare, Generac Power Systems, Inc., Ho-Chunk Nation, John Deere & Co., Kalahari Development, Kraft Foods, Lands’ End, Mercy Health System, Monroe Clinic, Quad/Graphics, Inc., Spectrum Brands, Trek Bicycle Corp., University of Wisconsin-Madison, UW Health System LARGEST AIRPORT:


Beloit College, Blackhawk Technical College, Edgewood College, Herzing University, ITT Technical InstituteMadison, Madison Area Technical College, Madison Media Institute, University of Phoenix-Madison campus, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater



Forty-five Latin American representatives visited Madison in 2015 as part of the Third Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE).


Partnerships bring big gains to the Madison region MARK CRAWFORD


major goal for the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) in 2015 was to better identify assets within five key sectors – advanced manufacturing, agriculture/food and beverage, health care, information technology and life sciences – and leverage those assets to improve production capacity, exports and workforce development. The year got off to a good start when MadREP was designated an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It had applied for IMCP designation for its agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing sector. “An IMCP designation is an important signal to potential investors that these communities are good places to spend their money,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in a statement. “By breaking down silos and encouraging communities to take a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach to their strategic plans, we are ensuring that precious federal dollars are used on the most highimpact projects, and in ways that maximize return on investment.” “We dedicated hundreds of hours to this project,” noted Paul Jadin, executive director

for MadREP. The partnership has received a $200,000 grant to increase the capacity of the agriculture, food and beverage sector. This includes establishing an 80-90-person consortium to determine the best ways to move the sector forward. Grants will also be requested for feasibility studies to decide how to repurpose the Oscar Mayer property in Madison and the Tyson Foods facility in Jefferson. Jadin also hopes to receive IMCP grants to establish University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research, the Madison Public Market and to expand the gaming industry. Jadin is excited about the gaming industry in the Madison region. Companies include Raven Software, Filament Games, Human Head Studios and dozens of smaller developers. “A key executive of EA Games from Orlando recently told me he sees Madison as one of the top five gaming centers in the country,” said Jadin.

A product of BizTimes Media

MadREP has assisted gaming companies to find capital for investment, development and expansion. An ideal place for gamers to set up shop will be the high-tech-oriented StartingBlock Madison, a 50,000-squarefoot  center where entrepreneurs, investors and advisors can network and create nextgeneration businesses. Scheduled to open in late 2016, StartingBlock will provide affordable and flexible workspace, accelerator programs and access to investors. Making sure regional businesses have enough talented workers is also a top priority. The Business and Education Collaborative (BEC), established in November 2014, is comprised of leaders from private-sector companies, academic institutions and government agencies who work together to develop innovative programs that will create a future workforce with the skill sets local businesses need the most. The goal is to ultimately create an ongoing dialogue between educators and businesses that ingrains a culture of collaboration and problem-solving in the region’s overall economy. Inspire is another new program that introduces young people to various career options. Participating students are assigned a coach at a company who provides workplace learning experiences – often through job shadowing, internships or apprenticeships – that may lead to job opportunities in key industries, especially advanced manufacturing. “Inspire wants to onboard 375 companies this year,” said Jadin. One way to improve economic growth with minimal expense is to find new markets for existing products. This includes international exports – a channel that many companies don’t understand. Foreign exports can be highly profitable, especially when a product is the perfect choice for an underserved market. MadREP has been highly active in bringing foreign trade groups to tour the Madison region and speak with business leaders, as well as undertaking foreign trade missions. In April 2015 Madison was selected to participate in the Third Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE), a tour designed to showcase advanced technology centers, innovation hubs, public-private partnerships, exports and foreign direct investments in the Midwest. Madison hosted a group in April with 45 representatives from Latin American countries. “We have also hosted Swiss, German and Dutch delegations, as well as trav-

The 50,000 square-foot StartingBlock Madison building will open in late 2016 to provide entrepreneurs with affordable and flexible workspace, accelerator programs and access to investors.

eled to Argentina to better understand its market needs,” said Jadin. The key to the Madison region’s successes, noted Jadin, is the collaborative spirit and drive that exists between education, government and industry in all eight counties

to help translate ideas into viable solutions for the regional economy. “In 2016 we will continue to map our core assets and build upon them,” said Jadin. “This is essential for improving the quality of our workforce and our overall brand.”



Restore Health






1,356 RevolutionEHR 1,698

Data Dimensions

2,188 SASid




$30.4m Madison Health $2.4m Madison Business Products & Services $107.8m Madison Health $7.9m Madison Software $74.2m Janesville Business Products & Services $7.5m Janesville Insurance


Best Defense Security & Fire Protection $4.2m Madison



Synergy Consortium Services

IT Services

3,378 bb7 3,574

Clarity Technology Group



$14.0m Madison Business Products & Services $2.3m


IT Services

3,645 MEC $329.5m Beaver Dam Manufacturing 3,777 Adesys



IT Services

3,917 TASC



Human Resources


WTS Paradigm

$17.2m Madison Software


Drexel Building Supply $98.5m Beaver Dam Construction


Midwest Prototyping


New Glarus Brewing Co.


InForm Product Development


State Collection Service

$4.6m Madison Manufacturing $41.1m


Food & Beverage

$4.3m Madison Engineering $32.3m


Financial Services




MILWAUKEE 7 (M7) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 756 N. Milwaukee St., Suite 400 Milwaukee, WI, 53202 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Pat O’Brien COUNTIES:

Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha POPULATION: 2 million MAJOR EMPLOYERS: A.O. Smith, Bon-Ton Department Stores, Briggs & Stratton, Caterpillar, Fiserv, GE Healthcare Technologies, Harley-Davidson Inc., Johnson Controls, Kohl’s Corp., Manpower Group, Marcus Corp., MillerCoors, Modine, Northwestern Mutual, Quad/ Graphics Inc., Rockwell Automation, S.C. Johnson & Son, Snap-On, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WEC Energy Group 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 SEAPORT: Port of Milwaukee COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES: Alverno College, Bryant & Stratton College, Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll University, Carthage College, Concordia UniversityWisconsin, DeVry University, Gateway Technical College, High-Tech InstituteBrookfield, ITT Technical Institute-Greenfield, 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-Milwaukee, Sacred Heart School of Theology, Sanford-Brown College, University of Phoenix-Milwaukee Campus, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, UW-Whitewater, UW Center – Washington County, UW Center – Waukesha, Waukesha County Technical College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology



College students in The Commons prototype an entire business in one intensive weekend.


Creating a culture of entrepreneurialism BY RICH ROVITO


ostering a strong entrepreneurial environment through startup businesses and innovative firms is crucial to ongoing economic growth in southeastern Wisconsin. In a state that already lags in new startup activity, the M7 region has traditionally been outperformed by the Madison area. To kick start a much-needed change in mindset – and dramatically increase the number of startups here – concerted efforts are being made to culturally embed entrepreneurial endeavors into the region’s economy. According to Jeanne Hossenlopp, vice president of research and innovation at Marquette University in Milwaukee, the seeds for entrepreneurial growth need to be planted early. “We’re trying to generate a culture on campus of new thinking,” Hossenlopp said. Marquette’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship fosters new ventures, encourages innovation and promotes entrepreneurship. The center traditionally has supported students in Marquette’s College of Business Administration but is being transformed into a resource for students throughout campus who have entrepreneurial goals. Among its many efforts, Marquette has launched a strategic innovation fund, which

provides seed money to students, faculty and staff to explore entrepreneurial ventures. Marquette also offers entrepreneurship as an undergraduate major and minor in the College of Business Administration, a program in social entrepreneurship, classes in the MBA program and close ties to a network of alumni and startup experts who lend their expertise. Hossenlopp also pointed to The Commons, a unique, entrepreneurial skills accelerator program, to serve students attending colleges and universities in southeastern Wisconsin. The Commons supplements on-campus learning with real-world projects, which she described as a “cutting-edge model.” An ecosystem for entrepreneurship is forming in the region to give students the skills and mindset to be successful entrepreneurs, said V. Kanti Prasad, dean of the Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Entrepreneurship isn’t just learning a

A product of BizTimes Media

set of skills. You also need practical aspects and to be inspired by other entrepreneurs – and to learn how to take calculated risks,” Prasad said. To that end, University of WisconsinMilwaukee is constructing the Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship, an $8 million, 28,000-square-foot building that’s expected to be operational by early 2018. The center will offer programming in entrepreneurship and focus on improving the success rate of small businesses in the area. Scale Up Milwaukee, which works with small businesses to promote growth, plans to move its headquarters into the center. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s offerings include an entrepreneurship certificate program, where students are taught how to assess new business opportunities, obtain financial resources, market and start new ventures and manage entrepreneurial ventures for growth and profitability. Students develop a business plan and present it to faculty and entrepreneurs for feedback. Other efforts geared toward entrepreneurialism at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee include the La Macchia New Venture Business Plan and the James D. Scheinfeld Entrepreneurial Awards competitions, which present cash awards. There’s also an entrepreneurial internship program, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Startup Challenge and the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which meets bi-weekly to support and inspire students who want to be entrepreneurs. In a state that historically has had much of its economic success tied to manufacturing, entrepreneurialism is taking on greater importance. “It’s an important part of what we do,” said Pat O’Brien, executive director of the Milwaukee 7, the seven-county economic strategy group. “It definitely has a part in our regional plan. We take a broad view that focuses on growth and innovation as well as startup businesses.” New and fresh ideas are crucial to a regional economy that has been driven by old-line manufacturing, he said. “We were an old manufacturing economy that got hit upside the head from the 1970s on and we’ve had trouble, at times, adapting to the new economy,” O’Brien said. BizStarts, which works with entrepreneurs, service providers, capital connections and other resources to help launch and grow new companies, developed out of

Students at work in Marquette’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship.

the first Milwaukee 7 regional plan. “It’s taken a huge leap,” O’Brien said. “There is a lot of activity and energy with BizStarts.” The focus on entrepreneurship isn’t limited to startup businesses; it also includes fostering economic development through innovation in the region, O’Brien said. New businesses aren’t alone in fostering

innovation. Major manufacturers with deep roots in the region, including industrial giants such as Johnson Controls Inc. and Rockwell Automation, which has its headquarters in Milwaukee, are considered innovators in their respective fields, O’Brien said. “You have to be innovative and develop new products,” he said.







Vantage Point



Computer Hardware





Computer Hardware


Product Cloud



$10.4m MKE/Waukesha Business Products & Services


Patina Solutions







IT Services


ZMac Transportation Solutions



Logistics & Transportation


Tim O’Brien Homes



Real Estate


Neumann Companies



Real Estate


Stella & Chewy’s

$34.5m MKE/Waukesha Consumer Products & Services


Breckenridge Landscape Design Construction & Maintenance


Delta Defense


Global Precision Industries


Wireless Logic

$16.9m MKE/Waukesha Retail



$24.5m MKE/Waukesha Insurance


Enviro-Safe Resource Recovery




Quest CE


Sunvest Solar

$10.4m MKE/Waukesha Energy



$15.9m MKE/Waukesha Software


Central Office Systems


Steele Solutions

$8.5m MKE/Waukesha Retail Human Resources

$2.7m MKE/Waukesha Construction $20.4m MKE/Waukesha Media $5.4m MKE/Waukesha Engineering



Environmental Services

$59.8m MKE/Waukesha Manufacturing $5.9m


Financial Services

$7.5m MKE/Waukesha Business Products & Services $30.4m MKE/Waukesha Manufacturing


GSF Mortgage







Advertising & Marketing


MN Holdings



Real Estate


OnCourse Learning

$36.3m MKE/Waukesha Education


QPS Employment Group



Human Resources


Core Creative



Advertising & Marketing


Real Time Automation

$3.4m MKE/Waukesha Manufacturing


Jung Express



Financial Services

Logistics & Transportation





THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP Marquette University, Aurora Health Care collaboration will bring athletic performance research center to Milwaukee

A strategic collaboration between Aurora Health Care and Marquette University, the athletic performance research center will be an approximately $120 million, 300,000-square-foot facility with a field house and laboratories where world-class researchers from Aurora Health Care, Marquette and around the world will examine the limits of human performance.




wo of Wisconsin’s leading institutions have joined forces to make downtown Milwaukee a premier destination for elite researchers and athletes from across the globe. Marquette University and Aurora Health Care are teaming up to build a $120 million, 300,000-square-foot athletic performance research center that will serve as a national beacon for scientific research in human performance. Marquette President Michael R. Lovell, who first conceived of the project in early 2015, announced in January that Aurora Health Care will be making a capital investment of $40 million toward the project — the single largest investment the nonprofit has ever made with a partner in its headquarters community. “This project is about Marquette, Aurora Health Care and Milwaukee differentiating themselves as innovators,” Lovell says. “As a university, Marquette has a responsibility to give back to the city, and it should not be undervalued what cutting-edge research can bring to a university, a city, a state and a region.” Both Lovell and Aurora Health Care President and CEO Nick Turkal, MD, have prioritized growing scientific research for their institutions, and the project will be a world-class facility designed to advance research in emerging fields, such as exercise physiology, athletic training, biomedical engineering, nutrition and rehabilitation. The Milwaukee Bucks, who were announced as a partner earlier last year, will also play a key role in the center’s research activities. Additionally, the athletic performance research center will combine indoor playing fields for Marquette’s lacrosse and soccer programs and will feature an indoor track and golf practice area. The facility includes weight and training rooms

and office space that will serve the university’s intercollegiate athletics program, and the track and field will accommodate intramural and club sports programming. Lovell and Turkal stress that the project will not only further wellness, human performance and research, but it will also serve as a catalyst for revitalizing Milwaukee’s downtown region and be a driver for long-term positive change throughout Wisconsin. “It’s important to underscore the impact this project will have on the western end of downtown, revitalizing an underused east-west corridor that sits at one of the state’s busiest freeway interchanges,” Lovell emphasizes. “We are optimistic that the project will spur ancillary development, including retail enterprises, in the areas immediately surrounding the athletic performance research center, making this near-dormant area a downtown destination.”


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

ThedaCare, Kimberly-Clark Corp., Oshkosh Corp., Bemis Manufacturing, Kohler Corp., Associated Bank, Plexus MAJOR INDUSTRIES:

Paper, paper converting; machinery, plastics/films; tourism and hospitality; defense; marine, agriculture and food production; and power and energy. LARGEST AIRPORT: 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, UW-Marinette, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Sheboygan



Case New Holland


Diversification and collaboration are the themes for 2016 MARK CRAWFORD


ew North leaders had a busy year in 2015, working hard to advance the region on a number of fronts, including strengthening its key industries through several creative initiatives. These efforts will continue in 2016 as they identify and support existing assets to help companies diversify and find new markets for their products. One of these initiatives is the IT Alliance, a collaboration of private-sector companies, technical colleges and public schools whose goal is to show students that information technology (IT) is a rewarding career. Programs include boot camps that help prospective workers gain the skills they need to secure entry-level IT positions. The New North region expects to see a shortage of about 4,000 IT workers in the coming years, which is why “the IT Alliance is critical for IT sector growth,” according to Jeff Blumb, a partner with Nation Consulting, a strategic planning and organizational management firm working with New North.

“The alliance will help retain IT jobs and also attract more IT companies, as the skill level of the IT labor pool improves.” “Education is an essential part of our IT mission,” added Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North. “To fill the job pipeline we must create the necessary curriculum for meeting the employment needs of our businesses. We also need to create more awareness of IT in K-12 classrooms by providing more information about career opportunities. The IT Alliance is still in its formative stage, but we are seeing tremendous enthusiasm for the program.” Manufacturing represents about 25 percent of the gross domestic product of New

A product of BizTimes Media

North, especially defense, transit, marine, paper and food processing. When defense spending was cut several years ago, it hurt area defense contractors such as Oshkosh Corporation and Marinette Marine. In response, New North and the state of Wisconsin worked together through the Oshkosh Region Defense Industry Diversification Initiative to create a database of defense-related contractors to help them find new markets and opportunities. “At first we focused only on defense companies and their suppliers to help build out a 360-degree supply chain for unique markets that would create more opportunities for their services,” said Murphy. “Now, however, the database has grown to include all New North manufacturers, not just defense contractors.” New North continues to establish alliances with industry groups, including water technology, aviation and energy-related companies, which may be interested in services offered in the database. Companies can also network and post jobs. Insurance is another strong industry group that New North is helping expand its opportunities, both regionally and nationally. New North is also excited about the Medical College of Wisconsin opening its third medical school in Green Bay. The first class of 20 students was admitted in 2015. Collaboration with regional academic and health care institutions, physicians and government, business and civic leaders is essential for creating an immersive education model. “The students will do their training in Green Bay and be more likely to stay in the area as professional MDs, or work in outlying or rural areas,” said Blumb. This will improve health care in the region by reducing our shortage of physicians.” Another key aspect of a diversified economy is providing a business environment that helps startups and entrepreneurs thrive. The Fast Forward 3.0 program helps connect these creative minds with business mentors, talent and capital. Mentees and mentors work together to develop a 90-day work program that prepares them for taking their business to the next level. “We track per capita income and other average benchmarks against state and

Broadwind Towers

national averages,” said Murphy. “This data shows that New North has fully recovered from the Great Recession. We have matched our 2007 economic metrics, including the number of jobs and the unemployment rate. Also, the level of confidence within the manufacturing marketplace is fairly high.” Collaboration for economic development, and sharing those benefits, has become the mindset of the region.

“Our top priority is meeting the demand for qualified labor,” said Murphy. “The ideal approach is to not only develop your own people, but also collaborate with other companies and organizations to develop a robust pipeline of talent. This involves committing to work with K-12 schools and post-secondary schools to build interest in the rewarding careers that our New North industries have to offer.”




NRB Resale


Midwest Restoration




Aurizon Ultrasonics


Vehicle Security Innovators


Nicolet Plastics


Fox World Travel


Heartland Technology Group




$3.2m Manitowoc


$2.5m Appleton




Business Products & Services

$6.3m Appleton



Green Bay

Logistics & Transportation


Green Bay


$20.1m $194.5m

Fond du Lac

Travel & Hospitality


IT Services




7 RIVERS ALLIANCE 601 Seventh St. North La Crosse, WI 54601 PHONE: 608-787-8777

Downtown La Crosse - Photo by Kyle-Herlitzke


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


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

Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, The Trane Co., University of WisconsinLa Crosse, CenturyTel Service Group, City of La Crosse, Kwik Trip, Logistics Health Inc., Western Technical College, APAC Customer Services Inc., Chart Energy & Chemicals Inc. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES:

University of Wisconsin-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




he 17 counties that collectively make up the 7 Rivers Alliance and Prosperity Southwest region share advantages and resources. In a 2015 regional business survey prepared by Winona State University, ninety percent of 7 Rivers Alliance businesses rated their company health as good or excellent, with 80 percent planning to grow in the next five years. Farms in the region are among the more than 1,800 member farms in 36 states that supply Organic Valley, a prime example of a business utilizing the strengths and resources of this scenic southwestern Wisconsin area. “Rural Wisconsin provides a workforce committed to our twin missions of organic farming and organic food,” said Organic Valley CFO Mike Bedessem. Now the largest organic food producer in the nation, with products sold in 32 states plus Canada, England and Australia, Organic Valley has headquarters in La Farge and additional facilities in Cashton and Westby. New Glarus Brewery in New Glarus also capitalizes on local ingredients for its evergrowing list of nationally popular craft brews. Wisconsin cranberries, strawberries, rhubarb,

cherries and more, combined with unique brewing techniques, are the hallmark of this 22-year-old Wisconsin craft brewer, consistently named on the Brewers Association’s list of the Top 50 Overall U.S. Brewing Companies. Food processing in general thrives in this region. “Manufacturing, food processing and health care are the sectors that are experiencing significant growth,” said 7 Rivers Alliance Executive Director Lisa Herr. A recent report on the economic impact of Wisconsin hospitals by University of Wisconsin-Extension and Wisconsin Hospital Association, Inc. ranks La Crosse county

A product of BizTimes Media

Ron Brisbois (second from left) with Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel and staff.

PROSPERITY SOUTHWEST number one in out-of-state patient visits. La Crosse’s two hospital systems, Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare, account for $500 million of the $2.5 billion coming in statewide from out-of-state patient care. Gundersen Health Systems ranked first with 159,712 out-of-state visits annually. “Health care is a major driver in this region. Gundersen Health System brings that care as close to patients as possible with regional partners, clinics in many communities, nursing homes and more,” said Michael Richards, executive director of external affairs. Agriculture, agricultural equipment and manufacturing remain the top-performing industries for Prosperity Southwest. Rockwell Automation, 3M, Kuhn and S&S Cycle are among the manufacturing giants with facilities in the region. A leading motorcycle parts manufacturer, S&S Cycle plans to upgrade both its Viola headquarters and its La Crosse facility in 2016. “We’ve been here for decades and we are proud to be part of this community,” said David Zemla, vice president of marketing. Finding skilled workers for the rural Viola facility is more challenging than in La Crosse. “But the workforce we do get is excellent,” said Zemla. “Our average tenure here is 12 years, and we have a number of people here for over 25 years.” Agriculture and manufacturing go hand in hand in this region, with numerous metal fabricators serving the ag equipment industry. “Metal machining is one of our main industries,” confirmed Prosperity Southwest President Ron Brisbois. New development in Prosperity’s Grant County includes a 105,000-square-foot warehouse in Lancaster for Hurst Logistics, which expanded to the region from Dubuque, Iowa. “We are seeing quite a bit of interest out of northeastern Iowa into Grant County,” added Brisbois.

Wisconsin Whey Protein, Inc. in nearby Darlington built a new plant in 2015. Involved in both stainless steel welding and whey production, Wisconsin Whey is among whey producers in the region that are increasing their exports, primarily to the Chinese market. The 7 Rivers Alliance also works with businesses to develop import-export relationships. “I’ve been in Argentina and Guatemala. We will be working with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Small Business Development Center and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to provide resources to companies seeking to increase their import export presence in new markets,” said Herr. Representatives from Akita Company, Ltd., the largest egg producer in Japan, visited the Prosperity Southwest region last summer. “Akita Co. was exploring the importing of various feed products from Wisconsin, as well as developing new market opportunities for their company,” said Brisbois. As in other regions, talent retention and attraction is a primary focus. Three of four businesses surveyed in 2015 cited difficulty finding skilled workers as a barrier to growth. “That was specifically evident in the manufacturing and food processing sectors,” said Herr. To assist businesses, 7 Rivers and its partners will utilize a $50,000 WEDC grant to provide services and support to area manufacturers and food processing companies in 2016. “We formed six multi-agency teams that

1800 Bronson Boulevard Fennimore, WI 53809 PHONE: 608-822-3501 PRESIDENT: Ron Brisbois COUNTIES:

Crawford, Grant, Green, Lafayette, Richland POPULATION: 210,000 MAJOR EMPLOYERS:

3M, Rayovac, Kuhn, S&S Cycle, Bemis, Rockwell Automation, Nu-Pak MAJOR INDUSTRIES:

Lumber, agriculture, agriculture equipment, cheese manufacturing, metal machining COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES:

UW-Platteville, UW-Richland Center, Southwest Wisconsin Technical CollegeFennimore, Blackhawk Technical College

are working to identify companies and promote the resources that are available through the WEDC grants,” said Herr. Signs of growth are everywhere in the 7 Rivers/Prosperity Southwest Region. “The health of the region has been steadily improving over the last five years” said Brisbois. “We’re looking forward to the next five.”






3,195 MacDonald & Owen Veneer & Lumber Co.


La Crosse





La Crosse



Supply Chain Solutions


La Crosse

Logistics & Transportation




CENTERGY 500 First St., Suite 15 Wausau, WI 54403 PHONE: 715-843-9563 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Peggy Sullivan COUNTIES:

Adams, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Wood POPULATION: 328,399 MAJOR INDUSTRIES:

Manufacturing, paper, health care, insurance MAJOR EMPLOYERS:

Marshfield Clinic, Sentry Insurance, Aspirus, Mosinee Telephone Co., Greenheck Fan Corp., Regal Beloit America, Wausau Paper Corp. 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 Chippewa River as it flows through Pepin County. Photo: Wikipedia CC


Ready workforce a top priority for businesses and communities BY MARYBETH MATZEK


inding enough workers to fill current and future job openings is a high priority across central and western Wisconsin. Regional economic development organizations are bringing businesses, educators and community leaders together to make sure companies have the workers they need to grow and thrive. The combination of retiring baby boomers paired with local business growth are the top two reasons businesses are feeling the crunch. “Talent development is top of mind for everyone here,” said Peggy Sullivan, executive director of Centergy, an economic development organization covering five counties in central Wisconsin. “We have numerous initiatives in place to bring and retain workers in our region. We’re also focused on training programs to help retrain people living here for the available jobs.” Momentum West, a regional economic organization covering 10 counties in western Wisconsin along and near I-94, is piloting a regional talent initiative to address current and pending talent issues, said executive director Steve Jahn. “There are multiple factors in place, but the main thing is that you need to retain the young adults you have and attract and retain young adults from other areas,” he said. Momentum West created a steering

committee with representatives from area businesses, educational institutions, municipalities and state agencies, including the Department of Workforce Development. “We’re not going to reinvent the wheel, but work with our partners to maximize our efficiencies,” said Seth Hudson, senior manager of economic and community development services for Cedar Corp. and the chairman of Momentum West’s board of directors. Jahn said collaboration is essential for the initiative to work, and that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will watch how Momentum West does and may use it as an example in other parts of the state. Centergy is using the RETAIN initia-

A product of BizTimes Media

tive – an acronym coined by Edward Gordon that stands for REgional TAlent Innovation Networks – as a way to grow the local talent pool, Sullivan said. “We’re gathering all our partners around the table so we can align our efforts and approach talent management in a collaborative manner,” she said, adding that while IT is the top field in need of workers, all industries are in a similar position. “ We can’t accomplish anything without working together. We all are working toward the same goal – growing the economy.” A region’s educational offerings play a vital role in talent recruitment and retention, since young adults typically will stay closer to home if they can earn a desired degree from a nearby college or university, Sullivan said. Good programs also have the power to bring in new young adults to the area. Cooperation among institutions is vital to making that happen. In central Wisconsin, technical colleges and University of Wisconsin campuses are working together through the Higher Education Alliance of Central Wisconsin, which is trying to improve Central Wisconsin’s educational offer, Sullivan said. For example, the group is working to establish a bachelor’s degree in nursing at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. While the technical colleges offer a two-year program, there’s no four-year option available in the region. With the number of open nursing positions expected to rise during the next few years, Sullivan said it’s vital to have a program in the area so people don’t have to leave the region to get a four-year degree. In western Wisconsin, the three four-year University of Wisconsin campuses teamed up to offer an engineering program. “If students go to school close to home, they may get an internship in the area and then hopefully a job,” Jahn said. “If they leave the area to go to school, it’s likely their careers will start elsewhere.”

MOMENTUM WEST 2322 Alpine Road. Suite 7 Eau Claire, WI 54703 PHONE: 715-874-4673 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Steve Jahn COUNTIES:

Barron, Clark, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix POPULATION: 453,380 MAJOR INDUSTRIES:

Centergy MW Overview Bowman Hall at UW-Stout

Besides growing new talent, attracting new businesses and helping entrepreneurs are also priorities for regional economic development groups. In central Wisconsin, Centergy is developing regional pathways for entrepreneurs starting a business to follow. “We found that it was hard for entrepreneurs to find and use the resources available, so we’ve worked with the state as well as local communities to pull those together,” Sullivan said. In western Wisconsin, Momentum West’s new Gold Shovel Ready Program builds off of the state’s certified sites program, providing developers and businesses with key information about available land. Hudson compared the information gathered to what a prospective homeowner might see about a home. “It has all the necessary facts in one place so developers can look through it and see what’s available,” he said. “We also push

Medical devices, plastics, packaging, health care, education, bio-agriculture, bio-energy, sensors, computers, nanotechnology, chemicals MAJOR EMPLOYERS:

Menards Inc., Philips Plastic Corp., 3M, Mayo Clinic Health System, Precision Pipeline LLC, Doro Inc. LARGEST AIRPORT: Chippewa Valley COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES:

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

it out to the state’s online listing of available land for development, as well as to some regional and national contacts. It’s a great way for some of these smaller areas to get exposure.”






Spectrum Industries


$2.4m $43.4m




Government Services

Eau Claire





GROW NORTH P.O. Box 518, Rhinelander, WI 54501 PHONE: 715-365-4468 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Angi Schreiber COUNTIES:

Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas POPULATION: 119,000 MAJOR INDUSTRIES:

Tourism, health care, wood products, manufacturing

Annual snowmobile races in Eagle River bring thousands of tourists to the Northwoods.

GROW NORTH | VISIONS NORTHWEST Broadband vital to business growth



Rhinelander/Oneida County COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES:

Nicolet College, Northcentral Technical College



n today’s world, businesses run on broadband internet. That’s why regional economic development organizations in northern Wisconsin are working hard to bring it to as many areas as possible. “Broadband internet access affects every part of people’s lives, from home values to their businesses,” said Angi Schreiber, executive director of Grow North, which covers eight counties near Wisconsin’s border with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She said people will decide not to buy a home if there’s no broadband internet access – even if everything else about it is ideal. “A lot of people have home-based businesses here and they need a high-speed connection to be successful,” Schreiber said. “We also have part-time residents who own a company in southern Wisconsin or Illinois and need it to be connected to them while staying in their second home.” In addition, a survey conducted by Grow North found that second-home owners would spend three weeks longer in the area if broadband access was available – which would

evelopment G cD mi

Nort hwest Visions

up ro



al gion Econ o Re

Amtec Corp., Church Mutual Insurance Co., Forest County Potawatomi Community, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Packaging Corporation of America, Langlade Hospital, Wausau Paper Mills

boost the region’s economy, Schreiber said. Widespread broadband coverage is a challenge in sparsely populated areas, said Rick Roeser, business development specialist for the Northwest Wisconsin Planning Commission, the umbrella organization for Visions Northwest, a 10-county region in northwest Wisconsin. He said telecom companies need a critical mass of people to make infrastructure installation profitable – or even break even.

A product of BizTimes Media

VISIONS NORTHWEST 1400 S. River St., Spooner, WI 54801 PHONE: 715-635-2197 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Myron Schuster COUNTIES:

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Washburn Boom Lake near Rhinelander is a popular summer destination. Tourism and the wood products industry are the region's top economic drivers.


“There are definitely obstacles to getting high-speed internet, but that’s just one piece of the economic puzzle,” Roeser said. “It’s something we continue to work on.” Crystal Rohde, administrator for Visions Northwest, said broadband access is only one part of the infrastructure required for businesses to be successful. Visions Northwest submitted a grant to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation so it can conduct an extensive survey of existing infrastructure – not just broadband – and determine how those conditions may impact or possibly restrict economic development. That information about the areas well equipped for expansion “could be shared online with economic development professionals so they know what we have to offer,” she said. Wisconsin’s Broadband Expansion Program is helping to connect local businesses and residents with high-speed Internet access. Wittenberg Wireless LLC received $220,000 in grants to bring broadband coverage to Mattoon in Shawano County and residents and businesses near the Silver Birch Ranch Camp area in Langlade County. ChoiceTel LLC received nearly $250,000 to build an 18-mile fiber optic route to connect businesses and homes in Conover and Land O’Lakes in Vilas County to high-speed internet. In both cases, the telecom companies match state money with their own. “It is so costly ( for these projects) and not

possible without some help from the state,” Schreiber said. Last summer, Grow North sent out 14,000 surveys to get a true representation of areas with coverage and those without. “With broadband coverage in place, it will add so much. Schools and students need it for schoolwork and senior citizens could chat with a medical professional online through an e-visit instead of making long drives,” she said. “It definitely adds to the quality of life.” Enhancing the quality of life for people living in northern Wisconsin will help with another issue facing the region – finding and retaining a skilled workforce. “Broadband coverage would definitely be a plus” for workers moving into the region, Schreiber said. And businesses need to attract workers to northern Wisconsin, said Sheldon Johnson, executive director of the Northwest Wisconsin Planning Commission. Grow North partnered with the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board on an extensive study last summer that identified areas most in need of employees as well as the types of skills those job openings require. “The largest number of current vacancies are in management positions and the transportation and materials moving occupations,” he said. “In the future, we expect gaps in health care practitioners and business and finance occupations.”

Manufacturing, health care, retail, tourism MAJOR EMPLOYERS:

Weather Shield Manufacturing, The Peachtree Companies, Graymont LLC, St. Croix Tribal Council, Avanti Health System, MarquipWardUnited Inc. LARGEST AIRPORT

Duluth International LARGEST AIRPORT

Port of Duluth-Superior COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES:

UW-Superior, Northland College, Northcentral Technical College, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Rohde said a key part of the study examined the skills employers are looking for. “Problem-solving and creative thinking were cited most often,” she said. Visions Northwest will work with local companies, educational facilities and the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board to ensure training opportunities and educational programs are available to prepare residents for open jobs. “Collaboration is part of our mindset,” he said. “We believe in working together to get done what’s needed.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




Exact Sciences moves forward with groundbreaking technology BY MARK CRAWFORD


ne of the top performers in Madison’s bioscience community is Exact Sciences, a company that developed a leading-edge technology for detecting colon cancer in its early, most curable stages. As a small biotech firm in Boston in the late 1990s, Exact Sciences struggled for 14 years to develop a non-invasive colon cancer screening test. In April 2009 the company overhauled its leadership and moved to Madison. A partnership with Mayo Clinic accelerated the development of Cologuard, the first at-home, noninvasive, stool-based DNA screening test for colon cancer.

In 2014, Cologuard was approved simultaneously by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) for the detection of colon cancer (92 percent sensitive across all four stages of cancer) and even pre-cancers (69 percent sensitive for detecting the polyps most likely to develop into cancer). These approvals made the test immediately available to millions of Medicare patients, with no out-of-pocket cost. Since then Exact Sciences has experienced consistent quarterly business growth, completing 4,000, 11,000, 21,000 and 34,000 Cologuard tests between Q4 2014 and Q3 2015. To date more than 21,000 physicians have prescribed Cologuard to their patients. When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s draft guidelines recently placed Cologuard in a new category of “alternative” screening tests for colorectal cancer, however, some concerns were expressed by Wall Street. The task force explained it had ranked Cologuard as an “alternative” method because there was “less mature evidence” compared to the “recom-

mended” methods, such as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), flexible sigmoidoscopy with annual FIT and colonoscopy. “During the task force’s public-comment period, we requested clarity on the standing of Cologuard and outlined why it should be included as a recommended screening option,” said Kevin Conroy, president and CEO of Exact Sciences. “However, there is limited history of the task force significantly changing its perspective between

the release of draft and final guidelines.” Over the past six years, Exact Sciences has grown from two employees to more than 700. These roles include research and development, manufacturing, technical and non-technical lab work, marketing and sales, customer care and billing. The company also built its own state-of-the-art laboratory in Madison that is capable of processing more than one million Cologuard tests annually. Exact Sciences looks forward to continued growth. The company is exploring new ways of using its unique DNA-screening technology to detect other cancers as well. Its research teams have partnerships with Mayo Clinic to develop new tests for esophageal and pancreatic cancers and are working on a blood-based test for lung cancer. Exact Sciences is also very interested in developing a corporate campus at the University of Wisconsin’s University Research Park in Madison. “This would be an excellent opportunity to continue benefitting from the UW System’s world-class talent, while engaging with the region’s top biotech companies in University Research Park,” said Conroy. “The diversity of our research and development functions also gives us the opportunity to hire from a range of skillsets across Wisconsin.”

Madison-based Exact Sciences developed the first-of-itskind non-invasive colon cancer screening test.



A product of BizTimes Media



Oshkosh has created a business park focused on the aviation industry.

Aviation industry looks to take off in Oshkosh BY MARYBETH MATZEK


ason White hopes D’Shannon Aviation, which relocated its aircraft engine overhauling operations from Minnesota to Oshkosh, is the first of many new aviation companies to call the city home. “We’re looking to make Oshkosh a destination location for businesses interested in aero-innovation,” said White, the executive director of Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corp. (GOEDC), Oshkosh’s economic development corporation.

The key to making Oshkosh “the” place for aviation is a newly-created aviation business park, a joint project between the city and Winnebago County. Adjacent to Wittman Airport, the 80-acre park offers 30 acres of city-owned land and 50 acres of countyowned land. Businesses on the county-owned land will have direct access to a taxiway at Wittman. City crews have started working on the park’s infrastructure. Once that’s in place, businesses – like D’Shannon Aviation – can begin building. The idea for the park has been kicked around for years, said Meredith Jaeger, founder of AeroInnovate, an organization started by UW-Oshkosh employees looking to help people bring new aero-technologies to market and grow aero-related businesses. But it wasn’t until a string of layoffs at the city’s major employer, Oshkosh Truck, that the idea took off.

The East Central Wisconsin Planning Commission conducted a study to look at the area and identify other potential industries to develop. One sector that rose to the top was aviation. Oshkosh is already well known as the home of the Experimental Aircraft Association and already had several aviation businesses, including Sonex Aircraft LLC and Basler Turbo Conversions. “From my work with AeroInnovate, I heard from companies who wanted to come here, but there wasn’t the available space,” Jaeger said. “The park changes that.” Since making its move in late 2014, D’Shannon Aviation, which focuses on engine overhauls and aftermarket parts for Beechcraft airplanes, has worked in a hangar at Wittman Airport and partnered with local fabrication companies to make parts. Owner Scott Erickson said the company will build in the new business park and eventually employ

between 30 and 40 local employees. The proximity to other aviation businesses drew the company to Oshkosh, he said. Last summer, White met with 70 to 90 leaders from aviation companies to determine their interest in relocating or expanding their operations to Oshkosh. “There is a lot of interest out there and there are businesses, whether they are suppliers or service providers, who want to be closer to this kind of activity,” he said. Jaeger said the new aviation park isn’t operating in a vacuum; other airports in the region are part of an overall planning process to bring aviation-focused businesses to the region. “We’ve had support from the Fond du Lac, Appleton and Green Bay airports. Each one has something different to offer and understands that a win for one airport is a win for the whole region,” she said. Beyond the region, GOEDC and Jaeger are looking to connect aviation-themed businesses from throughout the state via Wisconsin Aerospace Partners, which draws attention to the many businesses involved in the aviation supply chain. “We have manufacturers in the Fox Valley that work in aviation as well as companies in the Milwaukee area that focus on controllers” Jaeger said. “We’re trying to find a way to unite everyone in the industry under one umbrella.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




M-WERC shoots for U.S. energy independence BY BRIDGETTE MCCORMICK


s the global conversation around energy heats up, local activity surrounding the energy industry has erupted, and the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) is at the center. M-WERC, headquartered in Milwaukee, is a multi-state collaboration focused on the growth and economic competitiveness of the growing the energy, power and control industry cluster.

Founded in 2009 by three universities and four industrial companies, M-WERC now has over 30 corporate industry members, partners with eight academic institutions and consults with a number of individual contributors. Together, they aim to “drive the Midwest region and the United States to be energy-independent.” One of the most visible accomplishments of the group has been the design, development and opening of M-WERC’s headquarters, the Energy Innovation Center (EIC). The building is also tied to a neighborhood development initiative for Milwaukee’s 30th Street industrial corridor. With its flagship building in place, M-WERC is focused on its goal to serve as a collaborative epicenter and hub of innovation for companies in the energy industry. Launched last summer, WERCBench Labs is a threemonth, immersive, mentorshipbased program for technologyfocused young companies. Aimed at providing access to technology and market insights

beyond what is typically available to startups, the teams of engineers, programmers and scientists admitted benefit from the product development resources the program offers, including high-performance computing, rapid prototyping facilities and small-scale production and testing equipment. Building on the momentum of WERCBench Labs, M-WERC has formed a new partnership program with leaders from the Young Enterprising Society (YES) and serial entrepreneur Greg Meier to introduce over

500 Milwaukee high school students to the lean startup process. The program is called WercBench JV. “The concept of JV (or junior varsity) is based on the idea that entrepreneurship isn’t an exclusive club accessible only to a certain age group or social standing,” said Meier. “We’re excited about the opportunity.” The partnership brings together the relationships and experience of YES - working with students in Milwaukee for the past two years – with Meier’s track record of success in business startups and attracting funding. The first class of the program took place at the Northwest Opportunities Vocational Academy (NOVA) High School in December 2015. Plans for the next 14 programs at area high schools are underway. “The idea behind this effort is to expose students to the types of tools entrepreneurs need to grow a business,” said Meier.

Seiva Technologies was a member of WERCBench Labs inaugral class.



A product of BizTimes Media



Three Lakes students at work in the Fab Lab.

Three Lakes Fab Lab building job skills BY MARYBETH MATZEK


hen Steve Yahr, director of the Fab Lab at Three Lakes School, is asked why this small, northern Wisconsin school district is home to a program that started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and houses state-of-the-art technology, he has a simple, twoword answer. “Why not?” He believes the Fab Lab, which opened just prior to the 2014-15 school year, is something all schools should have.

“The Fab Lab teaches so much. It’s not only about the technology and making stuff, but it’s also about soft skills like leadership and problem-solving,” Yahr said. The school’s Fab Lab includes off-theshelf, industrial-grade fabrication and electronics tools that use open source software and programs written by MIT researchers. When the Three Lakes lab opened, it was the first K-12 fab lab in the state and just the sixth overall in Wisconsin. The Three Lakes School District didn’t bring the Fab Lab to life by itself. It relied on a public-private partnerships including the Oneida County Economic Development Corp., Grow North Regional Economic Development Corp. and the Northwoods Broadband and Economic Development Coalition.

Students and community members using the lab have access to an assortment of tools, including 3D printers, laser and plasma cutters, multi-axis CNC routers and more. Area business owners are impressed with the lab and what it offers. Steve Pawelko, coowner of Advanced Barrier Extrusions in Rhinelander, said it brings an added dimension to local education offerings. “Personally, I support the lab because I don’t think we in this country do enough with STEM learning. From a business standpoint, I support the lab because I need talent,” Pawelko said. “The Fab Lab teaches STEM skills, but also inspires students to be more confident, motivated and want to learn. Those are all qualities I’m looking for in workers.”

In Three Lakes, students of all ages use the lab, which is also open two nights a week to community members. “The lab isn’t just about technology, it’s also a mindset. People see themselves as a maker, not just a consumer,” Yahr said. “It helps create a can-do, creative mindset that employers are looking for.” Elementary school students, for example, used the lab to design and make their own snowflake as part of a unit on snowflakes, while high school students can take elective courses based in the lab. “Students learn if you fail, you can try something else. Innovation can be messy,” Yahr said. Angi Schreiber, executive director of Grow North Economic Development Corp., said the Fab Lab brings a lot to the region. “It teaches soft skills, which is lacking in the generation coming up,” she said. “Our goal is that more schools will be adding their own Fab Labs.” That idea excites Yahr. “Antigo and Rhinelander are also looking at one,” he said. “Businesses play a key role and know the labs help contribute to a better-trained workforce.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




Amazon teamed up with the Kenosha Boys & Girls Club to give kids gifts from their wish lists.

Newly attracted companies give back to Kenosha community BY MARYBETH MATZEK


t’s no secret the Kenosha Area Business Alliance is on a roll. With help from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., county, local municipalities and the Milwaukee 7 Regional Economic Development organization, the business association has recruited several high-profile businesses to the area. Whether it was Amazon’s decision to build a massive distribution facility or Uline’s decision to move its headquarters and distribution business from Illinois to Wisconsin, Kenosha County has gained more than 4,200 jobs and nearly $810 million in capital investment since 2013.

In addition to the more high-profile Amazon and Uline moves, the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) has also attracted other companies to the area including Meijer Inc., Niagara Bottling Co. Catalyst Exhibits and Kenall Manufacturing to just name a few. The state expects the area’s population to grow 25 percent between 2008 and 2030, after increasing 26 percent between 1990 and 2007. The area’s location – on a major interstate between the large population bases of Chicago and Milwaukee – along with its strong labor force, a lower cost of doing business and available financing and incentives all play a role in bringing businesses to Kenosha County, said Tim Roberts, presi30


dent and chief executive officer of Catalyst Exhibits, a builder of custom-made trade show exhibits that made its own move to the area from Illinois in 2011. “Kenosha County is one of the best kept secrets out there and they do a great job. The way the state’s trending, it’s very exciting to be a part of,” he said. While the region has gained economically with the addition of more workers, who then in turn spend money at other local businesses, the community has also benefited in other ways, with the new businesses getting involved with many different service organizations, said Becky Noble, KABA’s director of marketing.

One example is Meijer, which opened a distribution center in Pleasant Prairie in 2014 to help supply its growing number of Wisconsin stores. The company launched its Simply Give program after opening its distribution center and Kenosha store. Meijer targeted hunger as an issue. Christina Fecher, a public relations manager for Meijer, said the retailer seeks to make a difference in all the communities where it operates. “It’s vital that the funds remain in the local communities,” she said. “Our stores work closely with their communities to support organizations and events that our customers hold dear.” Other examples include Amazon providing the Kenosha Boys and Girls Club last Christmas with items from the organization’s wish list and the Niagara Bottling Co. providing the Kenosha Dream Playground Project with $75,000 (and enough bottled water for the construction crews who worked on the 10-day community build last year). “There are so many businesses who have become involved since making the move to Kenosha County,” Noble said. “They value the importance of giving back.” A product of BizTimes Media



Above: William Rubin, St. Croix EDC, Mark Mitchell, Derrick Building Solutions and Eric Turner, Dunn County EDC. Left: The Roberts Business Park (Roberts, WI) is one of Momentum West’s Gold Shovel Ready sites. The 276-acre park includes both industrial and commercial zoning and is located less than a half-mile mile from I-94’s Exit 10 in St. Croix County. (Nita Dusek Photography)

New program pre-certifies industrial parcels quickly and affordably BY LEAH CALL


ometimes the best ideas are generated over a cup of coffee or scrawled on the back of a napkin. That’s how Mark Mitchell describes the origin of Momentum West’s Gold Shovel Ready Sites program, launched in 2015. Mitchell, the project development director for Derrick Building Solutions, LLC in New Richmond, joined Momentum West and dozens of other stakeholders in the region to create this innovative program that gives communities, counties and property owners an affordable, efficient way to market their vacant industrial sites.

William Rubin, executive director of St. Croix Economic Development Corp., was among the first to bring the concept to Momentum West. “Our four-county Greater St. Croix Valley coalition (Polk, St. Croix, Pierce and Dunn counties) was looking for an alternative to Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.'s (WEDC) large-parcel certified site program and pitched the idea to Momentum West.” Momentum West embraced the idea and set in motion the collaboration needed to establish the process for verifying and designating vacant industrial property as build-ready. “The idea was to provide both public and private owners of property for sale with

the opportunity to have those properties qualified and then marketed while avoiding much of the cost, time and exclusivity associated with WEDC’s certified site program,” said Mitchell. While WEDC’s Certified In Wisconsin® program has proven to be an effective marketing tool for available sites, the certification process is extensive and comes with a price tag that some smaller communities can’t afford. The Gold Shovel Ready Site program does not compete with the WEDC program. In fact, WEDC partnered with Momentum West to bring the project to fruition. The alternative program is something Dunn County Economic Development Corp. director Eric Turner said was needed in his

county, which is made up of a lot of smaller villages. The county now has both a WEDCcertified site and a Gold Shovel Ready site. “We have both in our town, which makes it nice when I have a customer that wants to move quickly,” said Turner. Quick turnaround is one benefit of the Gold Shovel designation. Private and public property owners in the Momentum West region can go through the designation process in 30 to 60 days for just $2,500 to $3,000. Derrick Building Solutions has a 276-acre Gold Shovel Ready site near I-94 and Highway 65 in Roberts, Wis. “We were able to fill out much of the application ourselves and were also able to select the engineering firm we wanted to assist us. The process was simple and fast,” said Mitchell. The Derrick site is one of eight listed on Momentum West’s website as Gold Shovel Ready sites. Once a site receives the designation, Momentum West also markets it to site selectors. Momentum West director Steve Jahn anticipates adding five to 10 more Gold Shovel Ready sites in 2016. The Derrick site has already drawn serious interest. Mitchell says he is unsure whether this is a direct result of the designation, “but the information required to get our site certification for the Gold Shovel Ready program has been used by our broker,” he said. “It just illustrates to potential buyers that we are that much closer to providing all the information they need. That is a big value. Instead of having to wait months for that information, it is already available.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




The Lakeshore Manufacturing Directory connects local vendors like Carron Net Co. to strengthen the local supply chain.

New directory connects regional manufacturers BY MARYBETH MATZEK


arron Net Co., Inc. in Two Rivers makes nets for sports, industrial and safety uses. To do that, Bill Kiel sources parts from all over the country, but it wasn’t until he attended a Progress Lakeshore event bringing together area manufacturers that he discovered a Manitowoc company that could replace an out-of-state supplier. “I had no idea they were here and did that,” Kiel said. “Getting to meet other manufacturers and connecting with them has been a huge positive. It’s also ideal to meet with other companies who may need safety nets and not know about us.”

That’s music to Peter Wills’ ears. The executive director of Progress Lakeshore is the driving force behind an initiative to better connect area manufacturers. “By connecting manufacturers, we can grow the local economy,” Wills said. “Commerce doesn’t stop at the county line. If some32


thing happens in Kewaunee County, it affects Manitowoc County.” The initiative began after several major manufacturing employers closed their doors in Manitowoc County and Dominion shuttered its nuclear power plant in neighboring Kewaunee County. Progress Lakeshore –

Manitowoc County’s economic department corporation -- partnered with four other nearby counties – Kewaunee, Door, Calumet and Sheboygan – to look at ways to boost local manufacturers. “It was all about strengthening the local supply chain,” Wills said. “If Company A needs a part and uses a local company instead of going out of the area, it helps the region overall. The problem was that there wasn’t a place where companies could go to find out who did what.” A grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) funded a survey that uncovered 880 manufacturers and information about what they do. The next step was taking that information and putting it online where anyone could A product of BizTimes Media



Parking Retail Stalls



Months of Farm Market

HOUSEHOLDS within one mile Stores

4925 Public



2000 SEAT Attractions & 10 Museums PERFORMING





18 Live

Music Venues


EVENTS 110500,000 + Community




43 The Perfect Space


Tron-X to access other regional suppliers.




The Lakeshore Manufacturing Directory helps companies like Carron Net and Therma-



for Your Business!

ONE GREAT PLACE access it. The result is the Lakeshore Manufacturing Directory, where users can search either by company name or by industry category to find local vendors and manufacturing partners. Participants can enter their own information. “Putting the directory together required collaboration, and we were able to draw on the resources of the New North,” Wills said, adding that the regional economic organization previously put online directories together for other industries and supply chains. Beyond the directory, Progress Lakeshore holds events where manufacturers can gather together. That’s how Kiel discovered the local supplier. “More than 30 percent of Manitowoc County workers are in the manufacturing industry. We are experts in manufacturing and want to build on that as a way to bring in more companies,” Wills said. “We have the skilled workforce and the know-how to get it done. The directory also shows people outside the area what we have here, and maybe there’s a company who could benefit from these local suppliers.”


3 6 4 6 . 2 3 8 . 1.920 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




Consortium meets demand for engineers BY LEAH CALL


ast fall, 56 students enrolled in the inaugural mechanical engineering program at University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. The program is the first of three new undergraduate engineering programs to debut in the Momentum West region. The additional degree programs came about with the formation of the Northwest Wisconsin Engineering Consortium, which brought together the region’s three universities – UW-Stout, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and University of Wisconsin-River Falls – to work collaboratively on meeting the area’s demand for engineers.

“As we listened to our employers it became apparent that we needed these programs,” said UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer. Before approving the consortium’s request for the additional programs, the University of Wisconsin-System Board of Regents verified the demand. “According to the study positions, there are almost 600 unfilled in mechanical engineering just in northwest Wisconsin,” said Meyer. Support from Momentum West and other economic development groups in the region, along with input from numerous private sector businesses including OEM Fabricators, Phillips-Medisize and 3M further validated the consortium’s claims. “Quite frankly,” said Meyer, “without that kind of advocacy and commitment, I don’t know if we would have gained approval.” The new degree programs complement each university’s strength. Stout’s bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering is the first to welcome students, with 80 second-year applicants already enrolled at the end of 2015. Stout currently graduates 500-plus students annually from its existing manufacturing, computer and plastics engineering programs. “This quarter of the state is in dire need

of these graduates,” said Meyer. “We want to grow them locally and hope that they stay in the region, and that will be a good contributor to economic development here.” Degree programs in material science engineering (UW-Eau Claire) and agricultural engineering (UW-River Falls) kick off in the fall of 2016. UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt said his institution’s material science graduates are already filling positions usually filled by engineers. “But without the engineering credential, it has an impact on their salary,” he added. UW-Eau Claire has forged strong working relationships with area employers, who utilize the campus’s state-of-the-art equipment. Schmidt said interest by employers in setting

up internships and furthering collaboration has nearly tripled since adding the engineering designation. “So even though we are only making a modest change in the curriculum to give the engineering degree credential, it makes a difference.” An agricultural engineering degree is a natural next step for UW-River Falls, known for its existing agricultural engineering technology program. “We worked with regional businesses and identified the need for agricultural engineering graduates,” said River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen. Agricultural equipment manufacturer Oxbo International Corp. in Clearlake, Wis., is one of the companies expressing interest in the engineering grads. “They currently hire a number of our ag engineering technology graduates,” said Van Galen. “But they are looking for graduates with that higher level of skill and knowledge.” While the engineering designation gives students an edge wherever they land, the hope is to keep the talent in northwest Wisconsin. Schmidt added, “Industry is telling us they want employees who will not only understand how to do it, but have the creativity, because engineering in the end is about solving problems.” The consortium’s work to address the need for engineers in the northwest is an effort that is likely to be duplicated in other regions of the state. Van Gallen noted, “It’s an example of collaboration that makes good use of resources and serves students.”

OEM Fabricators celebrated the consortium in fall 2015. (L to R) UW-System President Ray Cross, UW- Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt, UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen, UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer, OEM Fabricators owner Mark Tayler.



A product of BizTimes Media



Changing kids’ perceptions about manufacturing BY MARYBETH MATZEK


inding workers with the right skills is an issue throughout Wisconsin, but in Waukesha County a manufacturers’ group has teamed up with local schools and Waukesha County Technical College to present manufacturing in a new light to students who wrongly believed the industry was dirty, dangerous and boring. The result is School2Skills, run by the Waukesha County Manufacturing Alliance, a program of the Waukesha County Business Alliance (WCBA). Manufacturing jobs make up about 20 percent of all jobs in the county, said Amanda Payne, vice president of public policy for the WCBA. Once leaders came together to discuss key issues, finding enough skilled workers and filling the talent pipeline quickly became the hot topics.

As part of School2Skills, the Waukesha Manufacturing Alliance holds tours at local companies in the fall and spring. They work with high schools throughout the county to find manufacturers near their schools. “We’ve discovered when you get students in a manufacturing setting, their perceptions change,” Payne said. “They go in and see these modern, clean facilities and the wonderful job and career opportunities available. We like to take kids in places they may pass by every day, but have no idea what’s it’s like inside. We have such amazing, modern facilities in our county.” Each student group visits three manufacturers before heading to WCTC where they learn about different training and education programs. Students take a survey before and after the tours to gauge how their perceptions of manufacturing changed. Since the program started five years ago, more than 1,900 students have participated. “The result is amazing,” Payne said of the survey results. “Kids don’t realize all the technology being used or how automated everything is.” Jim Zaiser, president and CEO of HydroThermal Corp., agreed. He said the program helps change perceptions about manufacturing jobs, including those at his company, which manufactures direct steam injection systems. “The School2Skills program allows those students, teachers and parents to see,

touch and understand the ‘new manufacturing era.’ Shop floors are no longer dirty, dark and unsafe,” he said. “They are usually clean and high-tech settings.” Students also learn about well-paying careers that don’t involve a fouryear college degree, Zaiser said. “The program also provides the students with another ‘choice’ in the future of their educational path,” adding that welders, CNC operators and general machinists are sought-

after in today’s workplace. Payne said each manufacturing tour is a bit different, but all provide students with some basic information about the company, the types of jobs available and a tour. Some companies give students hands-on opportunities during the visit while others may play games to see how much they know about manufacturing and what’s made at the plant. The students participating in School2Skills are picked by the local high schools, Payne said. Some schools take students enrolled in particular classes while others open it up to all students. “We have a wonderful partnership between the schools, the technical college and the local manufacturers,” she said.

School2Skills helps students better understand manufacturing's professional opportunities.





Projects like the Charmant Hotel are spurring even more development in downtown La Crosse.

Downtown La Crosse – great and growing BY LEAH CALL


etail, entertainment and business converge in La Crosse’s city center. Home to 440 businesses, with a flourishing arts district and numerous events, downtown La Crosse has earned the right to be deemed vibrant. While revitalization efforts have been underway for a quarter century, downtown La Crosse is in the midst of perhaps its most transformative time ever.

2015 saw the completion of the Charmant Hotel, a $27 million renovation of a centuryold building near Riverside Park along the Mississippi. It’s one of four new hotels to be added to the thriving downtown area. An additional $30 million was invested in the construction of three other hotels: the Hampton Inn, the Fairfield Inn and Hilton Home2 Suites. All will be taking reservations by spring 2016. “Having four new hotels come into the downtown district certainly draws attention to what is happening here,” said Robin Moses, director of Downtown Mainstreet Inc., the organization charged with overseeing rede36


velopment and revitalization efforts. The Charmant is one of two major downtown developments by private investor Weber Holdings LLC. The other is the $68 million Lot C project, a three-phase project that will transform an entire city block to add 90-plus housing units, plus office and retail space, restaurants, parking and more. And it’s already paying bigger dividends. “That private investment being put into our community gives everybody the confidence to put more investment into their own building,” said Moses. That confidence has spurred roughly 35 property improvements since July 2014.

“And we are filling empty storefronts right and left,” added Moses. “We have about 5 to 6 percent availability.” Downtown life is booming and people want to be a part of it. As building owners improve their facades, they are also tapping into historic tax credits to renovate upper levels into condos and apartment lofts. With large employers as well as numerous restaurants, shops and hotels, employment opportunities abound for current students and graduates of the area’s three higher learning institutions: UW-La Crosse, Viterbo College and Western Technical College. Among those working downtown are La Crosse County employees, who will see new digs in 2016, thanks to the Lot C development and county investment of $22 million. “A number of years ago, La Crosse County committed to consolidating into a campus in downtown La Crosse to improve operational efficiencies. We have since made investments in our Health and Human Services Building and Law Enforcement Center on A product of BizTimes Media



Downtown life is bugeoning in La Crosse.

this campus, so when considering alternative locations for the Administrative Center, it made the most sense to build upon that investment,” said county community development specialist Brian Fukuda, noting the

accessibility of the downtown location for both employees and customers. “We already have about 7,000 employees working in the downtown radius,” said Moses. “We are not just a downtown that is relying

on tourism. We are a working downtown, and now we are adding more people to live downtown. It maximizes what can be when you have tourism and workers and people living downtown. That is your perfect scenario.”






Public-private partnerships spark downtown revival BY MARYBETH MATZEK


hat a difference 10 years makes. A decade ago, an empty shopping mall stood at the center of downtown Green Bay, surrounded by vacant storefronts and half-empty buildings. Today, two major local companies call downtown home, there’s a recently expanded convention center and redevelopment projects at nearly every turn. The key has been support from city leaders, who invested in infrastructure projects to make the area more inviting, and businesses that were willing to call the downtown home, said Harry Maier, a long-time member of the Green Bay Redevelopment Authority. The big turning point was when the city razed the empty Washington Commons mall in 2012. Later that year, Schreiber Foods announced plans to build a new $85 million headquarters and technology center on the former mall’s footprint.

“When Schreiber Foods made the commitity downtown – more than $200 million in ment to new headquarters downtown, that new investments. Businesses are knocking on changed everything. That was a huge investour door to come to downtown Green Bay,” ment,” Meier said of the cheese manufacturer’s he said. “It’s all been possible because of the new facility, which opened in 2014. “Then Associty, developers and businesses all working ciated Bank followed suit by leaving Ashwaubetogether. Public-private partnerships are key.” non and relocating its headquarters there. One example is the former Larsen Those two events focused a lot of interest on the Green cannery site owned by the city. downtown and brought other businesses.” Smet Construction and Titletown The newly-expanded KI Convention Brewing Co. formed a joint venture Center is also bringing more attention and to purchase 6 acres and have already people downtown, said Kevin Vonck, Green completed several commercial projects Bay’s economic development director. Just there, including a new headquarters for last year, a $23 million expansion added Smet and the Greater Green Bay Area 34,233 square feet to the convention center, for a new total of 80,000 square feet. “We were losing out on some conventions because they outgrew our space. To stay competitive, we needed more room,” Vonck said. “We’ve already gained back some events we lost because of size concerns.” The 2012 construction of the CityDeck, a quarter-mile boardwalk along the Fox River with spaces for entertainment and leisure activities, encourInfrastructure improvements have helped downtown Green Bay aged more people to come undergo massive revitalization. downtown, Maier said. “There’s been so much activ38


Chamber of Commerce, offices, a new restaurant—The Cannery Public Market—and Titletown’s new Tap Room and brewery. The city plans to sell the remaining 16 acres of the site to the group by the end of 2016. Hotels, retailers, office tenants and residential developers have shown interest in the remaining acres, said Jim Kratowicz, Titletown’s chief operating officer. “Interest in the site continues to be robust,” he said. “We’re looking forward to developing this area and maintaining the momentum.” Vonck said it’s exciting to see once-empty buildings and spaces finding new life. “Green Bay has a long industrial history and the community is rediscovering these old buildings and taking advantage of their good bones and renovating them,” he said. “If businesses want to grow, we work with them to do what we can to make it happen.”

A product of BizTimes Media



The future Dollar General distribution center will create 552 jobs in Janesville.

Dollar General invests $75 million in Janesville BY MARK CRAWFORD


t’s been a challenging road for Janesville since the Great Recession, marked by the closure of a GM assembly plant in 2009 and, most recently, John Deere moving its warehousing and light manufacturing operations out of Janesville to Horicon. There was, however, a very bright spot for Janesville in 2015 – the announcement by Dollar General that it plans to construct a $75-million, one-million-squarefoot distribution center there that will need 552 workers – nearly one percent of Janesville’s population.

Dollar General is a Fortune 200 company that operates more than 12,000 stores in 43 states. The company is excited to get its Janesville facility up and running. When opened, it will be an integral part of the company’s retail sales distribution network in the Midwest, complete with a truck maintenance facility and dispatch center. Dollar General has undertaken an aggressive building schedule as well, with occupancy targeted by the end of 2016 and full operations by July 2017. Iowa and Illinois were in the running for this project; it took quick action by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) to get Dollar General’s attention and compete for the high-value project. WEDC assembled a team of local, county and state representatives to present Dollar General with what proved to be the winning proposal.

Critical to the success of the pitch was providing a location that met all the company’s requirements, including a quick construction turnaround. Janesville’s Highway 11 Business Park met those needs, including ready access to major four-lane transportation lines. “WEDC’s certified site program was essential in demonstrating that the Janesville site was shovel-ready, which was a significant issue for Dollar General because time was of the essence,” stated Gale Price, director of economic development for the city of Janesville. “It was also necessary to modify the County Trunk Highway G improvements adjoining the development site from two lanes to four.” The project evolved into a partnership among Dollar General, Alliant Energy/Wisconsin Power and Light, the Janesville Economic Development Office, the Rock County

Development Alliance, WEDC, and the state Department of Transportation. WEDC will award $5.5 million in potential tax credits to Dollar General through 2019. Janesville plans to provide a total of $11.5 million in tax incremental financing development agreements as well. “ The Economic Development division of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation also helped the city of Janesville secure a Transportation Economic Assistance grant for reimbursement of half the improvement costs up to $1 million, based upon the job creation by Dollar General,” said Price. Janesville landed this economic-development project because WEDC and local and county representatives quickly identified the needs of Dollar General and produced an incentive package that ultimately drew Dollar General’s commitment to Wisconsin. In addition to the direct economic benefits Janesville and the surrounding area will enjoy from Dollar General’s investment, WEDC estimates that more than 1,000 jobs will be positively impacted by the new facility within five years. “This important project was a true collaboration that would not have happened without all the partners working together as a team,” said Price. 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




Partnerships, pathways and production BY LEAH CALL


n aging workforce and exodus of young talent has manufacturers and other stakeholders in the Prosperity Southwest region looking for ways to introduce career pathways to area high school students. A unique partnership between Southwest Technical College, Rural Development Partners (RDP), Meister Cheese and Riverdale High School is opening young minds to careers in food processing, manufacturing and agriculture.

“This is a multi-faceted partnership focused on assisting farmers, high school students, and the agriculture industry as a whole in promoting a variety of value-added programming and investments in our region,” says Derek Dachelet, Ph.D., dean of Industry, Trades and Agriculture at Southwest Technical College. The high-impact partnership leverages $125,000 in grants from RDP, a national Community Development Entity (CDE) that focuses on agricultural, forestry and renewable energy projects. RDP’s mission is to improve the economic and social viability of low-income rural communities through the application of New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) to rural businesses. Muscoda-based Meister Cheese Company, LLC and Muscoda Protein Products, LLP, utilized NMTCs from its 2013 plant expansion to fund the collaborative project which benefits students, milk producers and Meister itself. A portion of the credits was used to purchase welding and laboratory equipment at Riverdale High School in Muscoda. Students use the lab equipment to learn about food and medical testing. The rapidly growing, third-generation company employs 132 people. “We noticed a significant trend of high school students leaving the area for better jobs,” said co-owner

and president Scott Meister. “We realized they needed to be educated early about what Meister has to offer, but also to overcome the stigma of what manufacturing is.” Prosperity Southwest Director Ron Brisbois helped Meister apply for the tax credits and also facilitated meetings between Meister, RDP, Southwest Tech, and the Riverdale School District, which encompasses Richland, Iowa and Grant counties. “RDP wanted to make sure that the benefits extended into all three counties. That is one of the reasons Prosperity Southwest was involved.” Agricultural training is a second grant component. Southwest Tech’s Production

Management program has partnered with Meister to help low-income and beginning milk producers with tuition assistance for management courses; farm business succession workshops; and agricultural career pathway training at Riverdale High. Matt Lansing, Farm Business and Production Management instructor for Southwest Tech, partnered with Meister Cheese to offer a Dairy Summit in late 2015 that concentrated on financial management training. “In the summit we focused on getting people to understand their cost of production, their balance sheet, how they compare to other similarly sized ag businesses,” said Lansing. Summit attendees also learned about the $1 per hundred-weight incentive offered by Meister for its suppliers, who must follow specific organic guidelines. Growth of cheese and whey producers in the region depends on increased production from the farming community. Grant outcomes include 12 hours of financial counseling for 20 producers. “The goal is to sit down and go through balance sheets with them to put together a farm analysis,” explained Lansing. “Meister is looking forward to seeing how their producers rank against others, and it gives farmers an understanding of where they can tighten up and be more profitable.”

NMTCs funded a major four-way partnership. Pictured (L to R) Deb Ihm, Southwest Tech Farm Business & Production Management instructor; Scott Meister, president of Meister Cheese; Brier Bartels, Riverdale High student; Paul Marshall, Riverdale Ag education teacher.



A product of BizTimes Media



The Northwest Enterprise Center Network was instrumental in launching Dental Metrics Laboratory.

Northwest Enterprise Center Network helps companies start off right BY MARYBETH MATZEK


erlyn Coy doesn’t mince words about the role the Northwest Enterprise Center Network played in helping his company, Dental Metrics Laboratory, get off the ground. “Without them, my business wouldn’t exist,” Coy said of Dental Metrics Lab, which uses digital imaging, 3D printers and CNC manufacturing equipment to produce metal-free dental restoration products. “Not only did it provide me with a physical space for my business, but everyone has been so helpful, from helping me develop a business plan and flesh out ideas to just being able to walk out my door and talk to other entrepreneurs to see how they dealt with an issue.”

That was the goal the Northwest Regional Planning Commission had in mind when it created the Northwest Enterprise Center Network in partnership with other local, state and federal organizations. The first center opened in 1998. “The network’s purpose is to provide the necessary resources to enhance technologybased business development. We’re focused on economic diversification and strength within the region, and one key to that is creating high-skill, high-wage jobs,” said Rick Roeser, the center’s program manager. “It’s one

of the largest incubator programs in the country, and it’s right here in northwest Wisconsin.” The network has 10 business incubators located in six communities across the region – Grantsburg, Iron River, Medford, Phillips, Siren and Spooner. The centers provide businesses with modern, flexible spaces that can be configured to meet their needs. Beyond providing a physical space for businesses to get started, there are also resources in place to help businesses like Coy’s get started and grow, Roeser said. To date, more than 40 companies have

used the incubators, resulting in more than 370 jobs. Roeser said $42.2 million in private investments have also been made as a result. “It’s not only providing that physical space, but also technical assistance – how do you do this or that when starting a business?” he said. “We also provide connections to funding resources – something all businesses need.” The network can help by tapping into revolving loan funds and venture capital financing programs that also fall under the Northwest Regional Planning Commission’s umbrella of offerings. “The enterprise centers are just one tool in the tool box,” Roeser said. “If you are going to help businesses grow and expand, you need the right pieces.” Roeser and other staff members meet with entrepreneurs one-on-one to help them with their needs. That’s something that Coy definitely appreciated. “Rick would drive up here (to Iron River) from Spooner after work to help me with my business plan,” he said. “It’s definitely been a whirlwind of getting help and assistance. I know I couldn’t do this on my own.” While any type of business can apply to join an enterprise center, the focus tends to be on manufacturing companies, especially those in tool and die or plastic injecting. “We believe we can grow our own successful businesses here,” Roeser said, “and that’s a great way to build and diversify the overall economy.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ







LaCrosse • 608-787-8777 • Lisa Herr, Executive Director •


608-685-6256 • Carl Duley, Agriculture Agent UWEX •

JUNEAU COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Camp Douglas • 608-427-2070 • Terry Whipple, Director •


LaCrosse • 608-784-5488 • Brian Fukuda, Community Development Specialist •


Stevens Point • 715-344-1940 • Lori Dehlinger, Executive Director •

CITY OF WISCONSIN RAPIDS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD Wisconsin Rapids • 715-421-8225 • Adam Tegen, Director •


Wisconsin Rapids • 715-423-1830 • Melissa Reichert, President •


Marshfield • 715-384-3454 • Scott Larson, Executive Director •

CITY OF MARSHFIELD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD Marshfield • 715-486-2074 • Jason Angell, Director •

LaCrosse • 608-784-4880 • Vicki Markussen, Executive Director •


Sparta • 608-269-8722 • Randall Larson, ED Planner •


Rhinelander • 715-365-4468 • Angi Schreiber, Executive Director •


Whitehall • 715-538-2311 • Patricia Malone, UW Extension •

VERNON COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION Viroqua • 608-637-5396 • Sue Noble, Executive Director •

FLORENCE COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (FCEDC) 715-528-3294 • Wendy Gehlhoff, Director •


Crandon • 715-478-6069 • Jim Schuessler, Executive Director •



Wausau • 715-843-9563 • Steve Smith, Interim Executive Director •


LINCOLN COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Merrill • 715-536-0383 • Ken Maule, Director •


Antigo • 715-623-5123 • Angela Close, Executive Director •

LINCOLN COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Merrill • 715-539-1024 • Jack Sroka, Executive Director •

MARINETTE COUNTY ASSOCIATION FOR BUSINESS & INDUSTRY 715-732-7421 • Ann Hartnell, Executive Director •

NORTHWOODS NIIJII ENTERPRISE COMMUNITY, INC Lac Du Flambeau • 715-588-4250 • Patricia O’Neil, Executive Director •

Wausau • 715-848-5954 • Todd Kuckkahn, Executive Director •



A product of BizTimes Media








920-834-6969 • Paul Ehrfurth, Executive Director • Rhinelander • 715-369-9110 • Roger Luce, Executive Director •

Eagle River • 715-480-4100 • Kenneth Stubbe, Executive Director •

Menomonie • 715-232-4009 • Eric Turner, Director •

Eau Claire • 715-834-0070 • Luke Hanson, Executive Director • Durand • 715-672-5709 • Jacki Drier, Economic Development •



Madison • 608-443-1955 • Paul Jadin, Executive Director •

River Falls • 715-425-3881 • Paul Schwebach, Executive Director •


Centuria • 715-405-7655 • Steve Healy, Executive Director •



Madison • 608-266-4270 • David Phillips, Director •

Ladysmith • 715-532-2257 • Andy Albarado, Director •

ST CROIX COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Hudson • 715-381-4383 • William Rubin, Executive Director •


Juneau • 920-386-3710 • Dean Perlick, Manager of Planning and ED •


Dodgeville • 608-341-6797 • Anna Schramke, Executive Director •

JEFFERSON COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Jefferson • 920-674-8710 • Genevieve Coady, Executive Director •


Janesville • 608-757-5598 • Colin Byrnes, Director •


Baraboo • 608-355-2084 • Keri Olson, Interim Organizational Facilitator •


Milwaukee • 414-287-4100 • Pat O’Brien, Executive Director •


Kenosha • 262-605-1100 • Todd Battle, President •


MILWAUKEE COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Milwaukee • (414) 278-4185 • James Tarantino, Economic Development Director



Port Washington • 262-238-7730 • Kathleen Cady Schilling, •

Eau Claire • 715-874-4673 • Steve Jahn, Executive Director •




Barron • 715-637-6871 • Dave Armstrong, Ecoonomic Development Director •

Elkhorn • 262-741-8134 • Derek D’Auria, Executive Director •



Chippewa Falls • 715-723-7150 • Charlie Walker, Executive Director •

West Bend • 262-335-5769 • Christian Tscheschlok, Executive Director •



Greenwood • 715-255-9100 • Sheila Nyberg, Executive Director •

Sturtevant • 262-898-7424 • Laura Million, Business Resource Manager •

Pewaukee • 262-695-7901 • Bill Mitchell, Executive Director •






Green Bay • 920-336-3860 • Jerry Murphy, Executive Director •

608-822-3501 • Ron Brisbois, President •




Green Bay • 920-496-2113 • Peter Zaehringer, VP Economic Development •

Fennimore • 608-822-3501 • Ron Brisbois, Executive Director •



Chilton • 920-849-1493 • Dena Mooney, County Planner •

Monroe • 608-328-9452 • Michael Johnson, Executive Director •



Sturgeon Bay • 920-743-3113 • Bill Chaudoir, Executive Director •

Darlington • 608-776-8080 • Ken Harwood, Executive Director •


Florence • 715-528-3294 • Wendy Gehlhoff, Director •

FOND DU LAC COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Fond du Lac • 920-929-2063 • Steve Jenkins, President •

TRI-COUNTY REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Neshkoro • 920-382-0963 • Bill Wheeler, Executive Director •


Algoma • 920-255-1661 • Jennifer Brown, Executive Director •


Manitowoc • 920.482.0540 • Peter Wills, Executive Director •

MARINETTE COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Marinette • 715-732-7421 • Ann Hartnell, Executive Director •


Keshena • 715-799-6226, x5713 • Jennifer Gauthier •

OCONTO COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Oconto • 920-834-6969 • Paul Ehrfurth, Executive Director •


Appleton • 920-832-5255 • Manny Vasquez, Vice President •

SHAWANO COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Shawano • 715-526-5839 • Dennis Heling, Executive Director •

SHEBOYGAN COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Sheboygan • 920-452-2479 • Dane Checolinski, Director •

WAUPACA COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION New London • 920-982-1582 • David Thiel, Executive Director •


Spooner • 715-635-2197 • Sheldon Johnson, Executive Director •


Ashland • 715-682-8344 • Dale Kupczyk, Executive Director •


Washburn • 715-209-4589 • Scottie Sandstrom, Executive Director •


Siren • 715-349-2979 • Mike Kornmann, Community Development •


Superior • 715-392-4749 • Jim Ceaesar, Executive Director •

IRON COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Hurley • 715-561-2922 • Kelly Klein, Director •

PRICE COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORIATION Phillips • 715-744-4700 • Bob Kopisch, Chair •


(715) 532-2257 • Andy Albarado •

SAWYER COUNTY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Hayward • 715-634-7226 • Ariga Grigoryan •


WASHBURN COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION Spooner • 715-635-8242 • Teresa Stein, Director •


Oshkosh • 920-236-5055 • Kelly Nieforth, Economic Development Specialist •



A product of BizTimes Media



Geared for

To advance and maximize opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment.

GROWTH When a state’s economic development partners work together the whole system is stronger and its output is more robust. The result is a productive business climate that works for everyone.

An ambitious mission, to be sure. With success measures far greater than job creation alone. Leveraging interconnections, sharing knowledge, acting deliberately and collaboratively to achieve prosperity. Fueled by a history of innovation and a can-do spirit to improve the quality of life of the state’s citizens. And to leave our mark on the world by promoting the unique contributions of Wisconsin’s dreamers to humanity.

Businesses Assisted


Business Development

Communities Assisted

Total Financial Awards

103 Community and Economic Opportunity

$245.7M Direct Capital Investment

$1.2B Leverage Ratio


Operational and Fiscal Excellence

Direct Jobs Strategic Economic Competitiveness

26,822 Future Job Potential

12,412 Projected 5-Year Income Tax Benefit

Brand Development and Management WEDC and its partners’ measurable impact (FY15)




Strategic Economic Competitiveness

Fostering an environment of success for our industries and their supporting workforce. The direct and indirect economic benefits of Milwaukee’s water technology investments demonstrate the profound impact of a comprehensive industry cluster development strategy.

Advancing Industry Clusters Wisconsin’s strength in three of the most essential human needs—water, energy and food—is unparalleled. The mutual dependency of these industry clusters is recognized in Wisconsin, and we’re drawing global recognition due to our success leveraging the intersections of these complementary fields.

— Lee Swindall, Vice President, Business and Industry Development, WEDC

Since its inception, the District has also spurred redevelopment in a previously economically dormant section of the city, bringing in new anchor tenants, as well as retail and housing projects. The success of the cluster also caught the eye of top economic analysts at MIT and Harvard, who announced the launch of a study dedicated to understanding the cluster’s success for use in modeling in other cities. The District solidifies Wisconsin’s leadership in the water technology sector—providing a hub for more companies to collaborate to solve the world’s water issues.

Encompassing parts of the Walker’s Point, Fifth Ward and Harbor District neighborhoods in Milwaukee, the Water Technology District has become a shining example of how economic clusters can encourage innovation and investment. Bolstered by more than $750,000 in investments from WEDC, the District has attracted more than $211 million worth of development between 2010 and 2015, including The Water Council’s Water Tech One and UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences’ Freshwater Plaza.

Increasing Network Connectivity If business is to prosper in Wisconsin, high-speed Internet connectivity must be given the same priority as more traditional types of infrastructure, such as roads and water supply. Recognizing this, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is providing $570 million in grant funding for Wisconsin broadband providers over the next five years to upgrade service, primarily in small towns and rural areas that don’t yet have high-speed Internet access. Three Wisconsin providers—AT&T, Frontier and CenturyLink—will receive grant funding through the FCC’s Connect America Fund to upgrade their service in underserved parts of the state. These upgrades will make an important contribution to Wisconsin’s business climate, enhancing the state’s appeal as a place to do business—especially for areas outside large cities. In addition, WEDC and the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association maintain an interactive online map of the state’s gigabit office parks to help businesses explore their location options.



Developing Next-Generation Skills Over the course of two centuries, the manufacturing sector has come full circle. During the Industrial Revolution, assembly lines replaced skilled workers who would craft a product from start to finish. But the assembly lines of the future don’t make the same type of mass-produced product; instead, they make products custom-designed according to a user’s specifications. These modern assembly lines incorporate technologies such as 3-D printing and computer-assisted design. The people operating them must be skilled workers who understand mathematics, information technology and engineering. Through the Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Grant Program, WEDC is helping to equip public schools across the state to prepare students for the manufacturing jobs of the future. Collaboration is a key feature of these labs, connecting Wisconsin students to a worldwide exchange of ideas.

Engaging Young Professionals Young professionals are integral to a state’s economic success. For this reason, WEDC joined forces with NEWaukee to bring Young Professionals Week (YPWeek) to 15 cities across Wisconsin in a concerted effort to retain and attract members of this critical section of the state’s workforce. YPWeek brings together the brightest business minds for seven days to ensure Wisconsin maintains its competitive edge by showcasing professional advancement opportunities and connecting participants to the people who make them a reality. YPWeek operates on the philosophy that young professionals benefit most from innovative ideas and meaningful social networking, helping create worthwhile connections and lasting business relationships. Since its inception in 2012 by NEWaukee, a social architecture firm dedicated to changing the ways professionals interact with each other and their environment, YPWeek has spread statewide and nearly quadrupled its number of events. In 2015, the event brought together more than 10,000 young business leaders from around the state in eight different cities.

YPWeek establishes a framework for existing and emerging young professionals throughout the state to collaborate and brand Wisconsin as a workplace destination for all millennials. — Angela Damiani, President, NEWaukee



Business Development

Helping companies start up, grow and reach new markets. Supporting Startups Wisconsin’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem encourages new business innovation, while WEDC’s initiatives spur new business creation with direct capital infusions and investment incentives through angel and venture tax credits. Start. Seed. Scale. (S3), a core group of initiatives designed to build the pipeline from “big idea” to commercialization, helps Wisconsin startups achieve their growth potential. Programs such as WEDC’s Qualified New Business Venture Program and Technology Development Loan Program help companies in the state bring new technologies to market, carrying forward discoveries generated by, for example, the University of Wisconsin’s $1.4 billion in annual research and development. The result is a diverse portfolio of investments which hold great promise for future business and job growth.

Fueling Growth Mortara Instrument proclaims that its diagnostic cardiology and patient monitoring technologies are “built with pride in Milwaukee.” The company has demonstrated its commitment to Milwaukee by adding 145 jobs to its local operations since 2013. Mortara Instrument also announced a 64,000 square-foot expansion in 2015, which will create an additional 150 new jobs over the next five years—a project that is supported by WEDC. “Manufacturing is one of the key drivers of our state’s economy, and this project is another sign of our industry strength,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan. When considering expansion opportunities, Wisconsin-based companies owe it to their investors to make the best decisions relating to cost, workforce, infrastructure and market access. In these cases, Wisconsin’s economic development partner network steps up to ensure that our state’s assets and investment incentives make the decision to stay in Wisconsin an easy one. John Deere considered locations as far away as India before ultimately deciding on a $42.9 million expansion of its Horicon facility. Similarly, Secura Insurance, founded in Wisconsin more than 100 years ago, weighed adding regional offices and remote workers outside the state before deciding on a $90 million headquarters expansion in the Greater Fox Cities area, a project that will retain the company’s 250 state employees and add 65 new full-time jobs in Wisconsin.



Tapping Global Markets With experienced staff and partners throughout the state, as well as in-country experts on the ground overseas, Wisconsin’s international network of trade representatives covers 79 markets in all. Exports are crucial to any company’s sustained growth, and plentiful resources—including an export readiness program, export growth grants, global trade ventures and matchmaking with in-country partners and distributors—exist to help Wisconsin companies expand their exports and reach new markets. But a prudent international business development strategy doesn’t stop with exporting. Growth of exports and growth of foreign direct investment (FDI) are complementary trends that reinforce each other. Thus, the strategy being implemented by WEDC and its partners also focuses on proactively attracting FDI that will benefit local suppliers, Wisconsin workers and the state’s economy as a whole.

Attracting New Business Not only does WEDC and its local partners respond quickly and effectively to companies scouting sites for relocation or expansion, we also actively court businesses whose operational needs would be well served by Wisconsin’s location, industry strengths and supply chain capabilities. And we’re committed to a seamless site selection and incentive process. The Certified In Wisconsin Program, for example, prequalifies sites as development-ready, reducing the money, time and potential risk of finding a location to grow and expand. To date, the 15 sites WEDC has certified throughout the state have attracted eight development projects representing an estimated $240 million in investment. One of those projects is Dollar General, which leveraged the program to identify the ideal site for its $75-million distribution facility in Janesville, a project that WEDC worked with local and regional partners to attract. The company considered other Midwest locations for its fourteenth distribution center, but ultimately selected Janesville in part because of its shovel-ready status, which allowed for an expedited construction timeline. Other recent significant business attraction projects receiving assistance from WEDC and its partner network include Gourmet Foods International and FNA Group in Kenosha and The Little Potato Company in DeForest.

The State of Wisconsin has created an environment where John Deere and Horicon Works can thrive. — James Field, President, John Deere Worldwide Agriculture and Turf Division



Community and Economic Opportunity

Celebrating shared spaces and common ground. This program has stimulated local economies by redeveloping idle or abandoned sites in numerous cities around the state. — Tricia Braun, Chief Operations Officer, WEDC

Revitalizing Idle Industrial Sites To help cities redevelop abandoned or idle sites often seen as “eyesores” within the community, WEDC created the Idle Sites Redevelopment Program in 2013. The program offers grants of up to $500,000 for the development of large industrial sites that have been idle for more than five years to reinvigorate local communities. Grants can be used for demolition, environmental remediation, or site-specific improvements to advance the site to shovel-ready status or enhance the site’s market attractiveness to encourage further business growth. Cities throughout Wisconsin that have benefitted from the program include Racine, Milwaukee, Beloit and Port Edwards, among others. To date, the program has awarded more than $8.5 million in grants to 10 projects that have drawn an additional $260 million in investment.

Creating Prosperous Communities The economic health of Wisconsin’s historic communities requires maintenance and cultivation of the public spaces that create and sustain business activity. Throughout the state, local municipalities are investing time, energy and money in their unique community assets, aided by WEDC community development funds. The City of Kaukauna’s downtown development project includes repurposing a vacant paper mill built in 1872 and the creation of developable lots and renewed access to the Fox River. The project, supported by Expera Specialty Solutions, creates new, expanded space for the Kaukauna Public Library and establishes lease space for additional private development. The redevelopment also helps Expera improve and expand its administration offices. A similar public-private project is taking place in Oshkosh, where DealerFire—a custom website design company serving the automotive industry—is working with the city to redevelop the historic Frank Percey Gun and Fur House property to house the company’s headquarters, creating 123 new full-time positions in the process.



Leveraging Best Practices In Wisconsin, we know that the state’s economic success relies not only on thriving urban centers, but also on economic development in small and midsize communities in every region of the state. WEDC works closely with communities across Wisconsin to support vibrant downtowns. Founded in 1987, the Wisconsin Main Street Program supports local downtown development efforts with access to additional resources including networking and technical assistance. Currently, 35 communities hold the prestigious designation of being Wisconsin Main Street communities. In 2013, WEDC created the Connect Communities Program to expand access to downtown development resources and support burgeoning revitalization efforts across the state. There are currently 53 Connect Communities, with two inagural members having successfully taken advantage of the resources available to help them achieve Main Street designation.

Encouraging Minority Business Acting side by side with the state’s minority chambers of commerce, WEDC is working to help minority-owned businesses overcome obstacles in starting and growing their companies. MARKETPLACE, the Governor’s Conference on Minority Business Development, drew a record-setting 711 attendees in 2015. The conference, in its 34th year, includes an expo hall featuring minority-, women- and disabled veteran-owned businesses, allowing them to connect with potential customers and buyers. Lenders, resource providers and business development consultants are also welcome to exhibit and connect with attendees. Business owners can connect with buyers from local governments, the federal government and the private sector in pre-scheduled, one-on-one meetings. The conference also includes networking sessions, an awards ceremony and educational workshops about business topics. For the last two years, the conference also has included a Small Business Academy, a half-day workshop that delves into issues new business owners often face.



Brand Development and Management

Telling Wisconsin’s powerful story. These and other WEDC marketing initiatives are paying off. Wisconsin’s consistently high rankings in business climate, productivity and personal fulfillment surveys, coupled with compelling brand messaging, have created a healthy pipeline of new business leads for WEDC and its partner network.

Positive messages relating to Wisconsin’s strong business climate, leading industry strengths, talented workforce and high quality of life are reaching new targeted audiences like never before. WEDC’s comprehensive marketing strategy is designed to raise awareness of the state’s many economic assets, engage business owners and their influencers, and drive action that ultimately results in new investments in the state.

Wisconsin companies, too, can now join the state’s marketing chorus. WEDC’s recently-launched Made In Wisconsin Program allows companies in the state to proudly proclaim their Wisconsin roots while also leveraging well established brand attributes associated with the Badger State—quality, hard work, honesty and innovation.

From national and international industry and investment conferences to global trade ventures, WEDC markets Wisconsin’s unique capabilities to qualified prospects, including companies looking to tap our state’s reliable manufacturing supply chain, as well as businesses seeking to establish new North American operations. In all cases, WEDC promotes Wisconsin’s renowned educational system, responsive economic development network, and sound fiscal management practices—all of which provide peace of mind to company leaders considering where to make their next investment.









AMERICA’S BEST STATES FOR HEALTHCARE Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality





CONNECTED Wisconsin embodies ex•tend•ed en•ter•prise

ex·tend·ed ' / ik' stended/ e

adjective: made larger; enlarged. • lasting longer than is usual or expected; prolonged.

en·ter·prise /'en(t)er ''prīz/ e

noun: 1. a project or undertaking, typically one that is difficult or requires effort. synonyms: initiative, resourcefulness, imagination, entrepreneurialism, ingenuity, inventiveness, originality, creativity; 2. a business or company. synonyms: business, company, firm, venture, organization, operation, corporation, establishment, partnership; entrepreneurial economic activity. SOURCE: MERRIAM WEBSTER


hen it comes to growing a strong and vibrant economy in Wisconsin, we’re all in this together. Our state has a reputation for great collaboration between the public and private sectors; we’re proud of that, and keep working to improve upon our successes. Industry-specific consortiums are partnering with public entities to develop a burgeoning export market; manufacturing and agriculture realize a corporate tax rate of only 0.4 percent; our Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) program offers up to a 25 percent tax credit on investment in Wisconsin companies; regional economic development entities are partnering with companies, universities and government agencies to strengthen and diversify local economies and train a tomorrow-ready workforce. These are just a few examples covered in this year’s theme for WisconsinBiz. Because we’re all connected.





State gears for growth in entrepreneurship



t seems not a day goes by when we don’t read about one creative new business being launched in Wisconsin and another one “graduating” from the rank of startup to that of established, independent operation. Our state’s economy continues to grow, albeit slowly, maintaining its recovery from the doldrums of the 2008 recession. The environment looms ripe for innovation, imagination and investment in new and fertile ideas. Life seems good for the entrepreneur. Wisconsin got a jolt, though, in mid-2015, delivered by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which since 1997 has published

an annual state-by-state ranking of business startup activity. According to the Kauffman index, Wisconsin had fallen to 50th place – dead last in the nation – in overall entrepreneurship.

Wisconsin was far from last and has been steadily climbing through the ranks, year by year, in business development. One particularly bright spot: According to a 2015 Dun & Bradstreet survey, Wiscon-

“Wisconsin ranks #2 in the ultimate success of its startups.”



— Dun & Bradstreet

Never a strong performer in this category, the state finally had fallen all the way to the bottom of the list. In looking for silver linings and brighter horizons in response, some light did shine. By other measures than Kauffman considered,

sin ranks near the top of the heap – number two – in the ultimate success of its startups, which might be more important than totting up lots of launches with most doomed to die on the vine. But focusing less on the number of new

A product of BizTimes Media

businesses (which includes every mom-andpop corner cartel) and more on longer-term measures of new business survival, expansion and success, it appears Wisconsin leans more toward a leading position: We strive to succeed where others may strive to simply begin. FROM START TO FINISH Startup business breeding grounds – known as incubators and accelerators – are by no means new concepts; in fact, these nurturing nurseries of innovation and entrepreneurship have themselves matured and spawned more of their kind in nearly every corner of the state, mirroring national trends. The conversation in 2016 and beyond will be about how rapidly and successfully these cradles of creativity can drive new business growth. Briefly, incubators provide resources such as space, equipment and proven expertise to aid business development, speeding growth from idea to plan to execution. Accelerators are much more focused – typically they are structured programs that shake down a startup’s business model, polish its pitch, mentor its teams and often guarantee early, sometimes pre-series A, investment. Many incubators and accelerators across the country are focused more on innovative ideas than on traditional business models. In Wisconsin, that is changing as recognition spreads that for every “unicorn” like Facebook and Uber, there are many manufacturing, services or even retail businesses that can lift local and regional economies, creating longterm stability and much-needed jobs. According to Aaron Hagar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), that organization “has invested in incubators and seed accelerators so that companies with diverse backgrounds from across Wisconsin can find new markets and expand locally.” Both work best when they represent a consortium or network of public and private institutions, existing businesses and non-profits. For example, the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC), headquartered in Milwaukee, began in 2009 as the brainchild of three universities and four industrial companies. That partnership has since grown to eight academic institutions and more than 30 member companies, and it has spawned its own incubator, WERCBench Labs – offering a three-month mentorship,

The Farm Market Kitchen, in Algoma, Wisconsin, is a regional shared-use food processing business incubator open to anyone in northeastern Wisconsin. (Green Bay CVB)

training and resources program for energyfocused technology startups. Madison and metro Milwaukee have the greatest concentrations of incubators and accelerators in the state, but the growing list of such centers for economic growth crops up in every region. In Superior, as far northwest as you can go in Wisconsin, The Development Association is a nonprofit that works with new and growing companies in Superior and Douglas Counties. Also on our far northern shore, the Ash-

land Area Enterprise Center is a physical space that caters to startups and micro-businesses with leased space and support services. Tiny Gays Mills, in southwestern Wisconsin, focuses on building food-related businesses through its Kickapoo Culinary Center. Algoma, on the opposite side of the state and on the shores of the Door Peninsula, advertises much the same for its Farm Market Kitchen, “a northeastern Wisconsin incubator for food processing businesses that preserve the region’s agricultural heritage.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ


Spooner, itself home to fewer than 3,000 people, boasts that its Northwest Regional Planning Commission is “one of the largest business incubation/acceleration networks in the nation,” with six regional locations that assist startup and expanding companies with facility, financial and technical assistance. And so it goes, from Green Bay to Oshkosh, Wausau to Wisconsin Dells, in La Crosse and Eau Claire, in Jefferson and Janesville. Local governments and regional plan commissions team with universities and technical colleges where possible, and area businesses and financial institutions lend knowledge as well as cash. A DREAM FACTORY One of the better-known names in Wisconsin new company growth is gener8tor, with two centers in what it calls “the entrepreneurial corridor in Wisconsin” of Madison (on Capitol Square) and Milwaukee (near the Third Ward). A fast-track seed accelerator founded in 2012, gener8tor is ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Each of its two annual 12-week programs accepts no more than five applicants with at least one guaranteed to be a Wisconsin-based company, and provides a

level of individual attention and business mentoring that traditional investors can’t offer. “As practicing attorneys, Joe (Kirgues, a gener8tor co-founder) and I both witnessed firsthand how there could be more coordination of entrepreneurial resources and mentorship and more efficiency in the process of obtaining follow-on financing,” said gener8tor co-founder Troy Vosseller. “We had long been admirers of VOSSELLER the accelerator model, and thought there was a lot of merit in following that model here in Wisconsin. We coupled that with the experience and passion of Dan Armbrust and Dan Bader, who provided the initial support and funding to start gener8tor.” Upon acceptance to the program, each company receives a $20,000 cash investment in exchange for 6 to 7 percent of common stock equity. Another $70,000 in guaranteed follow-on capital is promised upon completion from gener8tor and Angels on the Water.

Megan Kelly, Katie Jesperson and Anna Decker are the entrepreneurs behind Prescribe Nutrition.



Wisconsin-based companies are guaranteed an additional $50,000 from the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation. Companies also receive over $500,000 in deals and perks from vendors like SoftLayer, Rackspace, Amazon, PayPal and Microsoft. Over time, the goal is for gener8tor’s startup investments to pay dividends that create a self-sustaining fund for re-investment. Non-financial assistance comes in areas of business planning and development, design, marketing, social media and sales. Alumni businesses are encouraged to become mentors in their own right for new gener8tor startups. It certainly seems to work. To date, gener8tor states that it’s been responsible for 43 investments totaling $75 million in followon financing, helped to create 400+ jobs and helped to facilitate four exits. Among gener8tor’s mentored businesses is Toronto, Calif.-based Tiz – which some might call a soooo-Wisconsin success story. Tiz allows for liquor stores, bars and restaurants to order directly from alcohol distributors via a SaaS (software as a service) platform. “They’ve (gener8tor) really kind of kept us on track, very focused on our goals,” says Adam Newman, co-founder of Tiz, “and it’s not about just big goals, it’s about weekly goals, accomplishing just base hits to keep you moving along the way.” Madison-based AkitaBox is another gener8tor-mentored SaaS firm, one that’s built on building. AkitaBox digitizes and stores as a searchable database masses of construction data including blueprints and schematics, equipment manuals, and maintenance records. The company already has documented 184 major commercial and institutional buildings totaling more than 12 million square feet. “gener8tor connected us with people who filled our knowledge gaps in financing, product development and business planning,” said AkitaBox co-founder Luke Perkerwicz. “This advice was incredibly helpful. I truly feel that the growth of our company has been three times faster thanks to gener8tor.” Twin Cities-based Prescribe Nutrition is another new company birthed from gener8ator’s womb, one that seeks to essentially do away with dieting by offering personalized, science-and-sense-based food and nutrition programs for those who are confused by the constant barrage of conflicting advice on what constitutes healthy eating. The founders, Katie Jasper and Megan Morris, are certified nutritionists themselves

A product of BizTimes Media

who, they say, have charted their own journeys to nutritional health while treating and advising others. Unlike so many diet advisors, the partners claim, they possess the scientific knowledge as well as the personal, individual attention to explain the “whys” of your body’s healthiest needs and demands. “I think if you really believe in what you do, it will shine through, and every day’s a new day,” said Morris, who is also chief operating officer. MANUFACTURING TOMORROW Wisconsin’s industrial output is still its driving force, with manufacturing continuing to provide over 15 percent of all jobs – second in the nation. As such, it behooves the state to stay ahead of the pace. To that end, Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire supports startup manufacturers focused on clean and advanced manufacturing technologies with its Applied Technology Center. “One of the Applied Technology Center’s best features is its versatility,” said Tom Huffcutt, vice president of operations at CVTC. “It’s a great place for startups, but existing businesses also make use of our Equipment Access Program that allows them to use the high-tech equipment for product research and testing.” The center features 38,000 square feet of incubation space, applied research facilities including a nanoscience lab, wetlabs space, a Class 100 cleanroom, advanced micromachining technologies and – perhaps even more important – access to advice and support from faculty and local business leaders. CVTC offers its programs at 12 locations in its 11-county region. Madison, of course, has long been a leader in biotechnology. More and more that leads toward industrial and intrinsically human applications – a meeting of soft and hard technologies in imaging, genetics and medical information. It may surprise some that Wisconsin is a national leader in startup software solutions that track medical data from patient to physician to health care and pharmaceutical provider. Madison startups have driven diagnostic technologies no one could have dreamed of a decade ago. These technologies rely on hardware as well as software – there is no magic yet that measures malignancy without a machine, although a computer model may predict what a machine may not – and it still takes people interpreting technology

CVTC’s Applied Technology Center provides space for startup businesses as well as access to state-of-theart equipment for existing companies. (TBO Studios)

Brian Hostetler works at developing an automated testing platform for a wireless building automation system at Evrisko Systems in the Applied Technology Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire. (CVTC)

The Applied Technology Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire includes access to a Class 100 Cleanroom used by students, tenant businesses and companies in the region doing product development work. (CVTC)

to make a diagnosis. Not to be outdone, Milwaukee relies on an ever-closer consortium of stakeholders to advance industrial and also medical technologies. Once competitors, Milwaukee institutions now collaborate to birth new businesses and technologies and help them commercialize more quickly. At the 25,000-square-foot UW-Milwaukee Innovation Accelerator, Concordia University joins UWM and other stakeholders in spawning new business and biomedical solutions with a $1.5 million medical device prototyping lab, a mobile app lab, the Concordia drug

discovery lab, a bioengineering lab and more. At the Global Water Center, UWM, UWWhitewater and Marquette University, along with a host of metro corporations (Rexnord, Badger Meter, A.O. Smith and many others) sponsor labs and office space dedicated to new business development. There, they promote and pursue a whole new paradigm of freshwater technology for a thirsty world. “Startups from all over the world are applying to relocate to Milwaukee or Madison every year,” said Vosseller. “This shines an increasingly bright light on Wisconsin as a place where entrepreneurship happens.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




30 W. Mifflin St., Madison Co-working space that provides connections, workspace, and opportunities to support entrepreneurs.


1101 N. Market St, 2nd floor, Milwaukee Affordable and scalable office space, access to mentors, top talent, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.


300 N. Broadway, Ste. 3A, Green Bay 920-437-8704 • A mixed use business incubation program that provides kitchen, co-working and manufacturing space along with business technical assistance to young companies.


19 W. First St., PO Box 1108, Fond du Lac 920-922-7760 • Community action agency providing opportunities and tools that help low-income entrepreneurs become self-employed.


549 High Ave., Oshkosh 920-424-2364 • Incubator for entrepreneurs and innovators in the aviator or aerospace industry.


422 3rd St. W., Ste. 101, Ashland 715-682-8344 A mixed-use business incubation facility that provides leased space, support and services to small businesses.




1555 N. Rivercenter Dr. Ste. 210 Milwaukee • 414-973-2334 A collaborative center connecting startups and scaling businesses to resources, education and capital.


247 W. Freshwater Way, Ste. 500 Milwaukee 414-988-8751 • Accelerator program for water technology startups with commercialization potential.


161 W. Wisconsin Ave., 2nd floor Milwaukee 414-301-1414 • Collaborative workspace and resource-sharing community.

BUSINESS SUCCESS CENTER 549 High Ave., Oshkosh 920-424-0833 • Helps area businesses connect with university resources.


432 N. Lake St., Ste. 435, Madison 608-263-3315 • Statewide network for technology entrepreneurs that provides financing options and training.


100 Hwy 13, PO Box 430, Wisconsin Dells 608-254-8353 • Programs to help individuals start small businesses.


1100 Kane St., La Crosse 608-782-8022 • Small business incubator for La Crosse-area entrepreneurs.


201 Melby St., Westby 608-634-3104 • Nonprofit that offers business development programs.


2322 Alpine Rd., Eau Claire 715-874-4655 • Incubation center with space and equipment for businesses specializing in advanced manufacturing.


1401 Tower Ave., Ste. 302, Superior 715-392-4749 • A nonprofit that assists with the retention, creation, expansion and recruitment of businesses in Superior and Douglas Counties.


185 E. Walnut St., Sturgeon Bay 920-743-3113 A mixed-use business incubation facility that provides leased space, support and services to startup and expanding businesses.


1972 Oakwood View Dr., Verona 608-832-6776 • Development and business resource experts based in southern Wisconsin.


100 N. 72nd Ave., Wausau 715-261-6680 Development center run by the City of Wausau to help local entrepreneurs begin or expand businesses.


756 N. Milwaukee St., Ste. 400 Milwaukee 414-287-4143 • Finance and business accelerator designed to grow Wisconsin food and beverage industry companies with 5-200 employees.


520 Parkway St., PO Box 35, Algoma 920-421-0995 Incubator for food processing businesses that preserve the region’s agricultural heritage.


30 W. Mifflin St., 5th Floor, Madison; 333 N. Plankinton Ave., Ste. 211, Milwaukee 414-502-8881 • Technology investors that provide early startups funding and a 12-week accelerator program to help launch their business.


1101 N. Market St., Ste. 2, Milwaukee 414-308-3307 • An umbrella organization of incubators and accelerators including veteran-focused VETransfer and Revolution Labs, a central city startup incubator.


9310 N. 107th St., Milwaukee 414-305-9130 • Incubator dedicated to providing an affordable, supportive, dynamic business environment for startup and scaling businesses.


6815 W. Capitol Dr. Ste. 204, Milwaukee 414-645-8828 • Business network helping Hmong entrepreneurs connect new resources.

A product of BizTimes Media


800 Wisconsin St., Ste. D2-401 Eau Claire 715-855-7681 • Providing tools, resources and support for area entrepreneurs.

JANESVILLE INNOVATION CENTER 2949 Venture Dr., Janesville 608-755-3181 • Leasing space for local Janesville startups, short-term expansion and temporary space during new business construction


222 Wisconsin Dr., Jefferson 608-674-9000 • Primarily a provider of office space and moving services, with marketing and administrative aid available.


16381 Hwy 131, Gays Mills 608-485-3413 • An economic development group cultivating food businesses in the recovering Kickapoo region.


801 N. Sales St., St. 200, Merril 715-539-1024 • Free and confidential assistance to businesses located in Lincoln County and to those seeking to do business here.

MADISON ENTERPRISE CENTER 100 S Baldwin St., Madison 608-256-6565 • A project of Madison’s Common Wealth Development organization that serves startup and expanding small businesses.


931 W Main St., Madison 608-516-4046 • A second-stage incubator that serves startups and expanding businesses, supported by the Common Wealth Development organization.


4201 N. 27th St., Milwaukee 414-444-8200 • Working to improve the business environment for lowincome communities through economic development.


247 W. Freshwater Way, Ste. 500 Milwaukee • 414-272-0588 Creates and supports programming to foster the development of an innovative workforce in the greater Milwaukee area.



2320 Renaissance Blvd., Sturtevant 262-898-7524 • Manufacturing lab that offers flexible training on stateof-the-art equipment.


2778 S. 35th St., Ste. 203, Milwaukee 414-383-4633 Assisting entrepreneurs through education, consulting and technical assistance.

756 N. Milwaukee St. Ste. 400 Milwaukee Action project focused on developing the entrepreneurial capacity in Milwaukee.



2701 Larsen Rd., Green Bay 920-498-7180 • Resources for potential entrepreneurs, including guidance and classes.


1400 S. River St., Spooner 715-635-2197 • One of the largest business incubation / acceleration networks in the nation. Six locations in northwestern Wisconsin that assist startup and expanding companies with facility, financial and technical assistance.


52 Means Dr., Platteville 608-348-2758 • A nonprofit formed to promote business startups in the Platteville area.


1000 Hwy 14 West, Richland Center 608-647-6148 The City of Richland Center Economic Development provides facilities and business financing programs to help grow businessess.

2100 Winnebago St., Madison 608-241-4605 • A workspace and makerspace for businesses and creative professionals focusing on developing next-gen technology.



333 N. Plankinton Ave, Milwaukee Co-working space that provides opportunities to support entrepreneurs. Privately funded by CSA Partners.

WISCONSIN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN’S CENTER 3020 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee 414-933-1652 A community center featuring a business incubator for economic empowerment.


52 Means Drive, Platteville 608-348-2758 • A member association that develops and manages incubation programs that foster the development of entrepreneurial companies.


505 S. Rosa Rd., Ste. 220, Madison A venue for Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, share information, and build a community of innovative thinkers.

975 University Ave., Room 3260 Madison • 608-263-0221 Statewide network that helps facilitate business growth and launch new companies.



2379 University Ave., Madison Providing a collaborative environment of learning, mentorship and resources through flexible leases, professional advisors, investment opportunities and community programming.


1533 N. Rivercenter Dr., Milwaukee 414-263-5450 • A statewide organization specializing in the assistance of women, people of color and low-income entrepreneurs with mentorship, training and access to affordable business loans.

10437 Innovation Dr., Wauwatosa 414-778-1400 • One of the nation’s largest business incubators, specializing in research and technology firms.


510 Charmany Dr., Ste. 250, Madison 608-320-3243 State-of-the-art facilities and co-working, networking, and mentoring opportunities to help turn big ideas into businesses.





43 E. 7th Ave., Oshkosh 920-232-8904 Infuses high-growth startup companies in the 18-county region of northeastern Wisconsin with capital by providing seed and early stage funding.


P.O. Box 3232, Eau Claire 715-878-9791 Providing private equity financing for early stage and startup entrepreneurial ventures in the greater Chippewa Valley.


250 N. Sunnyslope Road, Ste. 245 Brookfield • 262-439-4421 Network of over 60 investors that considers business opportunities primarily from Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as other areas of the U.S.


705 Woodland Rd., Kohler 920-918-9477 Focused on mezzanine financing between debt and common equity, seeking later-stage companies with strong cash flow in Sheboygan and nearby counties.


P.O. Box 362, New Richmond 715-246-8989 Network providing support services and investment for startups and existing small businesses in the New Richmond Area.


399 Hwy 51, Manitowish Waters 715-543-8880 • Network formed to invest in startup and high-growth companies in Vilas County. 60



501 Charmany Dr., Ste. 175B Madison • 608-441-8315 Early stage fund that invests in women- and minorityowned/managed businesses in Wisconsin and the Midwest.


410 S. Third St., River Falls 715-425-3398 • Network that links early stage companies with high net worth individuals.

THIRD COAST ANGELS Concentrating on environmentally sustainable enterprises with a strong focus on new technologies.


P.O. Box 45919, Madison 608-692-7481 • Focused on life science-oriented seed investing in Wisconsin, open to collaborating with other investment groups.


1400 S. River St., Spooner 715-635-2197 • Cooperative venture fund of local units of government and Tribal Nations that provides equity investment for newly formed startups that can bring high-skill, high-wage jobs to northwestern Wisconsin.


1101 N. Market St., Ste. 200, Milwaukee 414-405-4848 • Angel fund that identifies, capitalizes and actively mentors Wisconsinbased, early stage, high-growth companies, targeting exits within 3 to 5 years of each initial investment.


124 Meadow Lane, P.O. Box 506 DeForest • 608-846-9477 Recently launched fund focusing on startups in biotechnology, agricultural technology, health care, long term care, and life-planning technologies.


P.O. Box 236, Friendship 608-339-6945 The Rural and Industrial Development Commission offers innovative financing packages to assist new and existing businesses in economic expansion.


10809 W. Lincoln Ave., Ste. 102 West Allis • 414-604-2044 Non-profit focused on developing businesses that benefit Wisconsin’s Indian Country through business loans, technical assistance and advocacy.


200 S. Washington St., Ste. 202 Green Bay • 920-499-6444 Assists small businesses with longterm fixed rates, stimulate economic development and create jobs.


200 S. Washington St., Ste. 202 Green Bay • 920-499-6444 Nonprofit working with the U.S. Small Business Association to provide SBA loans to Wisconsin entrepreneurs.


147 Lake Almena Dr., Almena 414-828-6222 • Alternative loans ranging from a few thousand dollars to a few million.


550 W. Washington Ave., Madison 608-356-2799 • Economic development company offering business loans to hard-to-finance small businesses in Dane County.


P.O. Box 885, Madison Nonprofit student and community micro-lender providing safe and affordable capital for small businesses and low-income entrepreneurs in the Madison area.


4618 S. Biltmore Lane, Madison 608-819-0390 • Corporation formed to help small businesses access SBA loans and raise capital for growth.


1400 S. River St., Spooner 715-635-2197 • Administers its revolving loan programs in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NWBDC provides low-cost gap financing for businesses seeking to either start or expand their operations in rural areas of northwestern Wisconsin.

WISCONSIN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION 201 W. Washington Ave., Madison 855-469-4249 • Wisconsin’s lead economic development agency, working with 600 partner organizations to help businesses, communities and individuals take advantage of new opportunities for growth and job creation.

A product of BizTimes Media


201 W. Washington Ave. Ste. 700 Madison • 608-266-7884 Independent authority created by the state to create low-cost financing programs, including small business loans and grants.


710 N. Plankinton Ave., Ste. 340 Milwaukee • 414-224-6000 Investment group that reinvests charitable donations in early stage, Wisconsin-based companies emphasizing innovation and technology. Prefer to coinvest with other groups.


432 Lake Street, Ste. 417, Madison 608-263-3315 • Partnership providing capital and business resources for part-time or full-time staff, faculty and students of the UW System.


P.O. Box 123, Eau Claire 715-544-7457 • Nonprofit committed to advancing innovation-based companies through strategic placement of human and financial capital.


330 N. Orchard St., Ste. B1254C Madison • 608-501-0000 Early stage funding capitalized by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board and Wisconsin Alumni Investment Foundation to build IT startups in Wisconsin.


111 N. Fairchild St., Ste. 400, Madison Investment arm of American Family Insurance, with a focus on digital technologies, data analytics and insurance-related products and business models.


777 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee 888-224-7326 • Venture capital, growth equity and private equity investments in early stage and expansion-stage companies in the areas of business services and life sciences.







1245 E. Washington Ave., Madison 608-310-3242 • Investors in high-growth technology companies in the Midwest emphasizing IT, e-commerce, mobile technologies and bioinformatics. 10556 N. Port Washington Rd., Ste. 201 Mequon • 414-453-4488 Primarily invests in life science and information technology companies.

2100 Freedom Rd., Ste. A, Little Chute 920-731-5777 • Focusing on early stage life and material science, information technology, and growth stage niche/ advanced manufacturing investments. 120 Wimberly Hall, UW-La Crosse 608-785-8782 • Group established to invest in high potential businesses seeking equity funding for growth and expansion.

555 E. Wells St., Ste. 1630, Milwaukee Venture fund investing in early stage, high-growth Midwestern companies, particularly in Wisconsin.

44 E. Mifflin St., Ste. 401, Madison 608-310-9520 • Global alternative asset management firm that focuses on unique investments.



P.O. Box 620037, Middleton 608-826-4000 • Invests in private, early stage businesses in the information technology, life science, and consumer goods/services industries.


P.O. Box 46635, Madison 608-497-0619 • Investors in the renewable energy sector seeking higher-risk adjusted returns by taking advantage of existing market gaps.

250 E. Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 1800 Milwaukee • 414-347-7815 Network that favors investment opportunities that use technology to organize, optimize, and accelerate business processes in the Midwest Great Lakes region.


505 S. Rosa Rd., Ste. 201, Madison 608-441-2700 • Seed and early venture capital, focusing on health care and technology investments.


401 Charmany Dr., Suite 320, Madison 608-819-8888 • Private investment office providing seed and early stage capital to health care and technology companies in Wisconsin or those that interact with Wisconsin’s economy.


735 North Water St., Ste. 1000 Milwaukee • 414-978-6400 Focused on new, leading medical device companies.


2820 Walton Commons West, Ste. 125 Madison • 608-468-6605 Privately-held investment fund focused on global macro trading, real estate opportunities, and early stage investment in Midwest-based tech, biotech, and clean tech startups.


608-205-0100 Wisconsin-based venture capital management firm that partners with the Kegonsa Seed Fund and the Kegonsa Coinvest Fund, a growth stage venture capital fund.


700 S. Central Ave., P.O. Box 868 Marshfield • 715-384-3454 Interested in early stage, highgrowth potential companies in the greater Marshfield region and throughout Wisconsin.

Intelligent Printing Web & Sheetfed Contact Greg Steil • 920.356.6787 • Beaver Dam

Making SERVICE the priority Leading INNOVATION Empowering EMPLOYEES Enhancing our COMMUNITIES A Proud Print Partner of BizTimes Media 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ





Illinois companies are flocking to southeastern Wisconsin



enosha County has become a hotbed for business relocation and expansion, bolstered in large part by successful efforts to lure companies from northern Illinois across the state line. “It’s well known that many Illinois business operators desire a better business environment, and some are willing to move across the border to make that happen,” Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) President Todd Battle said. “It’s a popular refrain. There’s generally a sense of frustration


with the government in Illinois and concerns about the state’s long-term fiscal health.” Illinois has struggled to balance its state budget and has been faced with huge pension obligations, making Wisconsin a more attractive option for business, he said. “Wisconsin has worked to get its fiscal house in order,” Battle said. “Contrast that with a very different set of circumstances across the state line in Illinois.” Wisconsin also offers incentives such as tax credits for manufacturers, he noted. The lure of establishing a presence in Wisconsin, on its own, has been a strong attraction for Illinois businesses, Battle insisted. “We have never really felt like it was the best approach for us to be prospecting in our neighbor’s back yard,” he said. “But when the phone rings, we are very responsive.” Kenosha County has experienced a surge in business, with more than 7 million square feet of development announced in the last two years, the creation of more than 4,400 jobs and almost $815 million in capital investment, according to KABA. Among the businesses recently moving to Kenosha County from northern Illinois is Toolamation Services Inc., which provides broaching services and a range of screw machine Lighting makers, Kenall Manutooling products. Toolafacturing brought 400 jobs to mation moved its headKenosha from Gurnee, Ill. quarters and factory to a 46,000-square-foot facil-


ity in Kenosha from Zion, Ill., in 2015, and brought with it 50 jobs. Others include: 

Kenall Manufacturing Co., a lighting firm that moved to Kenosha from Gurnee and brought with it 400 jobs. The company, which plans to employ as many as 620 workers in Kenosha by 2018, cited a lucrative incentive deal from the state as part of the reason for its move.

EMCO Chemical Distributors moved its headquarters to a new 260,000-squarefoot facility in Pleasant Prairie. The company, which had been located in North Chicago, employs about 145 people.

Good Foods Group, a fast-growing, Illinois-based manufacturer of allnatural food products moved into a 57,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility in Pleasant Prairie, initially creating 50 to 75 jobs.

Hanna Cylinders, previously located in Libertyville, Ill., moved its operations and 100 jobs to a 106,000-square-foot plant in Pleasant Prairie.

KABA tends to present general information about the communities in Kenosha County and tout the strong countywide infrastructure, balanced municipal budgets, shovel-ready properties and attractive and convenient industrial parks. “A lot of our selling really comes down to presenting case studies,” Battle said. The Milwaukee 7 and the Wisconsin Eco-

A product of BizTimes Media

WEDC cultivates strategic relationships and communicates the state’s strengths with site selectors, consultants, corporate developers and commercial real estate brokers, Michels said. That relationship-building extends internationally through foreign direct investment into Wisconsin companies and technologies, he added. “Through our global network of trade representatives, international trade missions, trade shows and export training programs, WEDC seeks to broadly showcase opportunities for investing in Wisconsin,” Michels said.  Other companies based out of state that have chosen to invest in southeastern Wisconsin include: 

Seattle, Wash.-based Amazon shipped its first order from its new 1 millionsquare-foot fulfillment center in Kenosha in June 2015. The facility has 1,000 full-time employees.

Niagara Bottling, an Ontario, Calif.based producer of private-label bottled water, opened a 377,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in 2015 that initially created 40 jobs.

Several large distribution centers have been established in Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie, including facilities for Meijer, Uline, Rust-Oleum and Gordon Food Service.

ABOVE: Governor Scott Walker and Rep. Samantha Kerkman welcome EMCO to Pleasant Prairie. RIGHT: Rust-Oleum has established a large distribution center in Pleasant Prairie.

nomic Development Corporation (WEDC) are the primary entities working to attract businesses to Wisconsin. “We go out and talk to companies about their business,” Milwaukee 7 President Pat O’Brien said. “We connect them with state, county and city officials about incentives and workforce needs.” For Illinois companies, Wisconsin offers stability, he said. “Illinois’ pension plans are a mess. That worries companies,” O’Brien said. The attraction of businesses to Kenosha County, from Illinois and elsewhere, tends to generate ongoing interest and enthusiasm, according to Battle. “Activity begets activity,” he said. Northern Illinois companies are far from alone in targeting Kenosha County as a desirable location to conduct business. Atlanta-based Gourmet Foods International, a cheese converter, wanted a location in the Upper Midwest and recently decided on a 35,000-square-foot site in the Business Park of Kenosha, in large part because of Wisconsin’s reputation as a dairy-focused state.

The WEDC partnered with KABA for the allocation of $200,000 in economic development tax credits to attract Gourmet Foods, which considered other locations before ultimately choosing southeastern Wisconsin to serve markets in the Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis areas.    “Although the WEDC often is presented with opportunities from states bordering Wisconsin to communicate our state’s business climate benefits, our strategy does not focus on company relocation from specific states,” WEDC spokesman Steven Michels said. “Instead, our focus is to attract inward investment of capital and talent to Wisconsin by promoting our strong supply chain, reliable infrastructure and our talented workforce, messages that we also promote internationally.”

Kenosha County’s location mid-way between Milwaukee and Chicago makes it a highly attractive location, Battle said. Business attraction efforts, especially when it comes to industrial companies, have been bolstered by southeastern Wisconsin’s manufacturing heritage, Battle believes. “This area grew up on manufacturing,” he said. A strong technical college system and manufacturing workforce are also benefits to any industrial firm looking to locate or expand into southeastern Wisconsin, Battle noted, adding that maintaining connections with business operators after their companies have established roots in the region is also important. “We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built with these companies,” Battle said. “A lot of them become very active in our organization and the community.” The companies then become some of the region’s most successful marketing tools, he said. 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




Wisconsin’s corporate tax rate after credits for manufacturing and agriculture businesses



Wisconsin employers who say their local technical college is important to the success of their business

Wisconsin’s national rank for overall health care quality performance


e h t BY NUMBERS 5.7




Annual average revenue for Wisconsin water technology companies


Producers of cheese, cranberries, ginseng and snap peas



Bioscience workers in Wisconsin, with a growth rate 10% higher than the national average (2010-2013)

#2 #3 #4 #5

In milk, dairy cows, carrots and hay acreage

Producers of potatoes, peas, oats, sweet corn and cucumbers

In maple syrup and tart cherries production

In manufactured food production

A product of BizTimes Media


88.3 billion

Annual economic impact of Wisconsin farms and agriculture, supporting 413,500 total jobs

How Wisconsin works 15.5% Government 13.5% Health care/Social assistance 12.7% Retail 10.1% Accommodation/Food services 7.7% Other/Unclassified 5.3% Manufacturing

466,083 Wisconsin manufacturing jobs, 87% higher than the national average




Administrative, Support and Waste


Federal R&D funding into Wisconsin

Wisconsinites who have attended college


Total R&D funding into Wisconsin


Wisconsin jobs related to aerospace manufacturing in nearly 200 companies


Professional, scientific and technical services




Wholesale trade

Wisconsin ACT average score for the class of 2015, second highest in the nation


5.01% 4.8% 4.4% 4%

3.6% Transportation/Warehousing 3.2% Management 2% Educational services 2% Crop/Animal production 1.8% Information 1.6% Arts/Entertainment/Recreation 1.4% Real estate/Rental/Leasing 1% Utilities .3% Mining/Quarrying/Oil and gas extraction


Source: All data provided by Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation







othing says “Wisconsin” quite like beer, brats and cheese, and those food items – along with thousands of other statemade products – find their way daily to consumers across the globe. In 2014, thousands of Wisconsin businesses exported $23.43 billion in goods worldwide – the highest total yet. That number is only expected to grow as Wisconsin companies look to tap into growing overseas markets. With 96 percent of the world’s population living outside of the United States and one billion people expected to join the global middle class over the next 10 years, the demand has never been higher for American goods, said Katy Sinnott, vice president of international business developSINNOTT ment for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp (WEDC). “There is a huge demand overseas for products stamped with that ‘Made in the USA’ label; and the Midwest is known worldwide as a place where quality products are made,” she said. Industrial machinery is the top Wisconsin export, followed by ag products ranging from cheese and sausage to animal feed components, plus ginseng and medical and scientific instruments. State companies export to 206 different countries, with Canada and Mexico being the top trade partners. CUTTING THROUGH RED TAPE While there’s easily a market for Wisconsin products beyond the United States, 66


exporting isn’t simple. Businesses need to be aware of the myriad rules and regulations in different countries, plus currency exchanges, distribution networks and more. “Exporting is a complicated process,” said Art Klein, director of Johnsonville Sausage’s international supply chain. “The regulations are always changing, depending on the country.” Johnsonville is no newbie to exporting, and foreign sales continue to grow for the Sheboygan County sausage manufacturer, but when questions arise Klein turns to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for answers. That department, along with the WEDC, provide businesses with the vital information they need to make sound decisions. “Exporting is complex, but not impossible,” said Jen Pino-Ga llagher, bureau director for business and market development for DATCP. “That’s why we work so PINO-GALLAGHER closely with companies that want to export.” Wisconsin has trade reps in 79 countries who provide vital “boots on the ground” for companies interested in exporting. And, according to Sinnott, if Wisconsin doesn’t have a presence in a particular country, a business can work with the U.S. Department of Commerce. “The trade reps are a great resource to our Wisconsin companies looking to grow their businesses overseas,” she said. “For many businesses, going overseas is a great way to

grow. But it’s not as easy as saying ‘I’m going to start selling in such-and-such country.’” The first thing to understand is that every country has different rules and regulations, Pino-Gallagher said. For ag products, that means that what needs to be on a label for a country in Europe is not necessarily the same for a product going to Asia. Sinnott said many companies become “accidental exporters.” LEARNING THE ROPES “They get in an order overseas from someone who found them on the web and suddenly they’re exporting, but that may not be the best place for that company to be,” she said. “They may not know the best way to price the products to take into account currency changes, extra shipping costs, taxes, added translation costs or other costs incurred along the way.” When a company expresses interest in exporting, Sinnott steers them to ExporTech, an export accelerator program designed for a company’s top executives and sponsored by the WEDC, the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) and the UWStout Manufacturing Outreach Center. Roxanne Baumann, director of global engagement for WMEP, said participants go through an intensive process that identifies the best markets for a company, then develops a plan for reaching customers and delivering products. Participating companies get specialized help and coaching during three one-day sessions. “It’s much more effective than saying ‘let’s go to a trade show in Germany’ and then come away with nothing, but you’ve spent $10,000,” she said.

A product of BizTimes Media

According to Baumann, companies who graduate from ExporTech increase their international sales on average between $600,000 and $900,000 within a year of finishing the course. “I always encourage the top leaders of the company to come – the CEO, the CFO – they need to know about exporting and how it works,” she said. “We work very closely with them to develop a value proposition for their product. We tell them ‘we need to find out why you think someone would want to find you in Wisconsin for this product.’” Baumann said ExporTech graduates identify the top three or four countries to target for their first exporting initiative and then develop a specific marketing plan. “It sounds simple, but it really gets down to ‘who are the customers who need your products?’” she said. While manufacturing companies mainly attend ExporTech, the WMEP has offered specific programs just for those in the ag sector. “Dairy exporting will continue to grow as more people around the world enter the middle class and start eating dairy,” Pino-Gallagher said. Once a business goes through ExporTech, Sinnott said the next step may be to go on a trade tour with the WEDC. “We talk about goals and help set up meetings so companies can start to build those relationships,” Sinnott said. “We also have trade reps from different countries come to Wisconsin and provide opportunities for businesses to meet.” WEDC and DATCP also offer seminars and workshops to help businesses learn more about exporting. The agencies are a go-to resource when businesses have questions. “If someone from sales says ‘let’s go into Uruguay,’ the first thing I’m going to do is pick up the phone and call the Department of Ag and find out about what we need to know and do,” Klein said. “Every country is different and we just find it’s important to utilize the government agencies and ask for help. That’s what they’re there for.” Joe Holz manages outside and international sales for Kasco Marine Inc. He said the WEDC has been invaluable when it comes to identifying distributors in countries where the Prescott-based manufacturer of aeration, fountain, de-icing and water-mixing solutions is interested in doing business. The company has been exporting its products for more than 25 years, but has greatly expanded

Kasco Marine has used WEDC grants to help grow foreign markets.

its overseas operations the past five years with the assistance of the WEDC. “WEDC will work with their local partners in each country to research and identify potential distributor prospects, conduct interviews to determine interest level and potential partnerability, then review the listings with us, allowing us to take the reins from there,” he said. “These searches have proven effective in some markets and helped us find good distribution in certain areas.” Pino-Gallagher said one thing that DATCP likes to do is bring buyers to Wisconsin from foreign markets and set up meetings with interested companies. “They can have a meeting right here and start exploring options,” she said. While most Wisconsin ag exporters are food manufacturers, some individuals – including ginseng farmers and ag professionals involved in breeding – sell their products globally. “The key to ask yourself is: Are you exportready? Don’t say you want to export until you’ve gathered all the information,” Pino-Gal-

lagher said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.” The WEDC offers a Collaborative Market Access Grant program that’s designed to help industry organizations, non-profits or regional economic development groups who work with Wisconsin companies to grow their exporting business. Kasco Marine has used WEDC grants to help grow its foreign markets. The agency offers an International Market Access Grant to help companies attend trade shows overseas, translate their website or some other activity designed to boost their exporting capabilities. There are also grant programs available to help companies pay for the ExporTech course. “We have used grants to attend industry trade shows and develop several translated, international websites to help grow the exposure and demand for Kasco products,” Holz said. Learning how the exporting process works is the first step all businesses need to take if they’re interested in selling overseas, Holz said. “Exporting can be daunting. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, from finding the customers, to making the sale, getting payment and delivering the product,” he said. “Practicing the process and continuing to stay on top of changes is ongoing. We now export to over 30 countries and our exposure seems to grow all the time, so our products are reaching new markets constantly.” 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




QNBV HELPS high-tech startups succeed BY MARK CRAWFORD


igh-tech is a fiercely competitive space, especially when it comes to funding. Fortunately, high-tech entrepreneurs have a fantastic asset in Wisconsin’s Qualified New Business Venture Program (QNBV), established in 2005 to stimulate investment in early stage Wisconsin companies. Since then, the state has certified over 315 companies, which have raised about $321 million in investments that qualified for over $80 million in tax credits. These companies have also attracted nearly $890 million in other investments and grants. This represents an impressive rate of return for the state of Wisconsin. In 2014, for example, 21 new companies received QNBV certification, bringing the total number of companies in the program to 178. Investors received $12.8 million in tax credits that year, in return for investing $51.1 million into QNBV-certified companies. These companies were also able to attract an additional $123.1 million in outside investment, resulting in an overall 14:1 return. 68


HOW IT WORKS To qualify for the QNBV program, companies must be early stage, high-tech companies seeking equity investments from independent investors. Ideally, Wisconsin wants game-changing ideas – the more potentially disruptive, the better. “Most applicants are from the information technology (IT), biosciences, medical devices, alternative energy and advanced manufacturing industries,” said Chris Schiffner, technology investment manager for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which administers the program. “One of the fastest-growing sectors is medical-related IT.” Investors (individuals, angel investment networks and venture capital funds) can claim a tax credit equal to 25 percent of the amount of the equity investment. Businesses can receive up to a total of $8 million in taxeligible cash equity investment (up to $2 million in tax credits for the investors). Companies approach WEDC for QNBV

certification at all different stages of fundraising. “Some companies talk to investors prior to applying to WEDC and only start the application process if it’s something the investors are interested in,” said Schiffner.


Be headquartered in Wisconsin

Have at least 51 percent of employees based in the state

Have fewer than 100 employees

Be in operation for 10 consecutive years or less

Offer significant potential for increasing jobs or capital investment

Not have received aggregate private equity investment in cash of more than $10 million

A product of BizTimes Media

“Other companies get certified shortly after organizing as a company, with little more than an idea, and hope QNBV certification will help them get in front of investors and score a deal. There is no right answer for when a company should get certified.” MAKING IT HAPPEN QNBV certification does not ensure success. “These types of investments are one of the riskiest that can be made by private investors,” said Schiffner. “Finding the right investors is a difficult process that takes even experienced entrepreneurs months to put together.” But finding the right combination can really pay off. Madison-based Shoutlet, a company that creates social media management tools, has grown from 24 employees to over 120 since it attained QNBV status in 2010 (it was acquired by Texas-based Spredfast in August 2015). Healthfinch, a developer of software for the medical industry that was certified for the QNBV program in 2013, recently announced a Series-A round of $7.5 million, bringing the total funds raised by the com-

pany to more than $10 million. Some entrepreneurs don’t realize two separate tax credits are available under the QNBV program: the angel tax credit and the early stage seed tax credit. Angel tax credits are awarded to angel investors and can only be claimed against a person’s individual

totaled about $5 million. Promentis develops novel compounds for the treatment of central nervous system disorders. “We have been told by some of our investors that without the 25 percent tax credit they would not have invested in our company,” said Dan Lawton, chairman of the board for

“We have been told by some of our investors that without the 25 percent tax credit they would not have invested in our company.” — Dan Lawton, Promentis Pharmaceuticals

income tax returns. The early stage seed tax credit is available for venture funds and can be used against personal tax liability, corporate tax liability and insurance gross premium taxes. It can also be sold or transferred to a Wisconsin taxpayer. This flexibility was especially helpful for Milwaukee-based Promentis Pharmaceuticals during its recent funding rounds, which

Promentis Pharmaceuticals. “WEDC understood the complex reality of our successful funding strategy – in-state angel investors, national angel investors and a qualified venture fund in Europe – and worked with us to maximize the impact of the QNBV program. This has allowed us to make extraordinary progress and grow in a way that might not have otherwise been possible.”

We help businesses create value, save costs and be more efficient through strategic real estate planning and management.

Office & Industrial Expertise: • Tenant Representation • Landlord representation • Consulting

• • •

Facility Management Lease Administration Project & Development Services

• •

Award-winning corporate real estate services

Workplace Strategy Business & Economic Incentives and many more

Contact JLL Milwaukee today | + 1 262 784 7500 |




Wait any longer and it will be too late Developing your next leadership team

By Dan Loichinger


elta Airlines, Pacific Gas & Electric, Delphi, Lehman Brothers and Trump Entertainment Resorts. What do these companies have in common? They, and scores like them, went out of business in the last 15 years. Their supply chains have suffered. Thousands of people lost their jobs and often their stock portfolio. But did we learn enough? Today, many leaders continue to put their companies and employees at risk by not developing their next management team.

Planning ahead is not a luxury

In the past year I’ve heard from many executives that 50-percent or more of their current management team will retire in the next five years. If you knew you were losing fully half of your managers’ talent, experience and relationships so soon, how would you prepare? Years ago we thought of leadership development as a nice thing to have, but too many still think they can simply send people to a two-day seminar or bring in a consultant and they’ll be “fixed.” This “magic bullet” approach is unrealistic. As a TEC Chair, I see how members share the power of the peer group, where they receive candid input on tough business issues like this, with nothing asked in return.

The Good News

You still have time to act. Take the situation seriously and start putting a plan together. Ask yourself if your competitors are facing the same dilemma and how you can gain the edge. A TEC group of high-performing peers is one option. Our members are helpful, engaged and certainly not your competitors.

Start Moving Forward

You’ve decided to take your business to the next level. You may be looking to sell at a decent profit or to stay and create an even stronger company legacy. Good for you.

You realize there are many things you know, and other things you’ve never had to deal with. Welcome to leadership – working towards a preferred future where many of the actions will be new to you, while realizing success means leaning hard on people around you.

Next Steps

Once you’ve taken that difficult first step, you can assess your position and the actions required. 1. Update your strategic blueprint: What are you working to become in the next 3 to 5 years? What does your company stand for? How do and will you differentiate yourself? 2. Assess your leadership gaps: Understand the requirements for your leadership team, what types of skills you have had, what will be required in the future, who is planning to leave or move on and what gaps you will need to fill. 3. Balance your requirements: I always recommend that organizations identify the core requirements of each position and work with current leadership to evaluate what is needed. Understand what part of the job requires the expertise of the individual leader, and where they will team up with others to accomplish the work. 4. Hire the best: Use every inch of your network to find the right person, have key people involved in the hiring process and make the offer to your best candidate. Don’t settle. 5. Rebuild your team: This does not happen by itself. It will require your time, focus and attention. As you develop and onboard new leadership talent, focus on integrating them into the current leadership team.

In Summary

There are many ways to get where you want to be. If you choose growth and would value the camaraderie of peers, look into TEC Midwest. Independent research shows that our members grow 2 to 3 times faster than their peers who try to work through the same issues on their own. Don’t wait. Dan Loichinger provides executive coaching, leadership assessments and roundtables as a Chair for TEC Midwest. He is also president of Loichinger Advantage LLC. Dan can be reached at, 608-354-3524, or visit



espite massive cuts to the state budget, Wisconsin’s educational institutions and research entities still rank among the world’s best.

Researchers in this state are leading the charge, and public and private companies throughout the state are stepping in to collaborate, form partnerships and continue to support much-needed, world-changing research. Some of the brightest, most innovative research on the planet is happening right here in Wisconsin. Advancements in healthcare, manufacturing, aviation, technology and agriculture are poised to transform their respective industries, and boost Wisconsin and its economy in the process.






UWM associate professor Ramin Pashaei and his team have received new funding to continue their quest to better understand the human brain. Their research could lead to new ways to treat diseases of the brain, memory loss and depression.

UWM ENGINEERS AN OPTICAL APPROACH TO BRAIN RESEARCH Ramin Pashaie is an electrical engineer, and as such, he studies the workings of systems – systems involving the intricate interplay of circuits and switches, voltage and resistance, energy and output. Pashaie’s current focus is on the most intricate and complex system in the world: the human brain. An associate professor at the University



of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Pashaie recently received a $506,451 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue studies on the use of optics and molecular genetics to control and manipulate cell activity in the brain. “The brain is extremely complicated,” Pashaie said. “It’s unlike any other part of the body. The heart is a pump, part of the arm is a joint, but from the brain we get intelligence,

we get creativity, we get dreams. “It’s difficult, but if we can understand more of how the brain functions, we can perhaps implement that type of control in other systems, in computers, in electronics – and we can help people suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s, seizures or other ailments of the brain.” The new grant expands on research Pashaie established three years ago using funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the UW-Milwaukee Research Growth Initiative. Using mice as a model, Pashaie and his research team adapted a technique to genetically modify neurons in the brain to become sensitive to light. Once modified, the cells’ activity can be manipulated by exposing them to different wavelengths of light. “The new grant specifically looks at understanding the coupling between neurons in the brain and blood flow via vessels,” Pashaie said. “In other words, how blood knows where to go, how it knows which neurons or cells need more oxygen, glucose or other metabolic products.” The study could eventually lead to advanced understanding of brain cell activity, what triggers more activity, and potential ways to manipulate or control those signals. “Understanding the relationship between blood flow and brain cell activity is central to addressing health problems like stroke, hypertension and other vascular changes,” Pashaie said. “We may be able to find ways to compensate, when these changes occur, which could ultimately decrease fatalities and or severe complications.”

A product of BizTimes Media

Being able to manipulate brain cells could mean the ability to increase brain activity in patients suffering from depression without chemical medication, he said. The first two years of the new grant will be used to research and develop new technology and equipment, Pashaie said. His team needs to be able to look at the activity of the neurons and image the blood vessels simultaneously. To do that, they need to combine two very complex microscopes into one device. Pashaie plans to launch a company to sell the newly-developed equipment for a variety of other uses.

MARQUETTE MOVES STATE FARMERS TOWARD AMBER WAVES OF RICE Wisconsin already leads the world in cranberry bogs. So, why not rice paddies? Marquette University geneticist and molecular biologist Michael Schlappi recently received a $500,000 federal grant for his efforts to grow rice in our cold climate. Schlappi’s research team successfully grew different rice varieties in four southeastern Wisconsin locations this year, including in three fields and on top of the Wehr Life Sciences Building on Marquette’s campus in Milwaukee. “This grant will help us understand the genetic and physiological mechanisms of cold tolerance and sensitivity in rice plants,” said Schlappi, an associate professor of biological sciences in the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. “We want to dig deeper to understand cold tolerance in rice at the molecular and cellular level.” Schläppi has tested more than 200 varieties of rice. He believes a Russian line and maybe others could yield 8,000 pounds of rice on an acre in Wisconsin. Schlappi received the grant from the Agriculture Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to Schlappi, half of the world’s population consumes rice as a primary food source. In the United States, rice thrives and grows mostly in warm states such as California, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. But drought conditions, especially in California,

Marquette geneticist and molecular biologist Michael Schlappi’s research could hold the keys to growing rice in colder climates.

are making it increasingly difficult to sustain the water-intensive crop. Growing rice in the Midwest will contribute to sustainable rice cultivation for the United States and the world, Schlappi said. 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ


SEAMLESS FILE-SHARING TECHNOLOGY ROCKS THE INDUSTRY Today’s technology is one of immediacy. Mobile computing has become second nature for almost everybody in the world – but file sharing, in most cases, remains in the past, stuck, irrelevant and hindered by access, connection speeds and compatibility issues. Superior-based Fasetto, LLC has a solution. Fasetto provides users the ability to store and quickly share files on multiple devices with or without an Internet connection. The technology uses a proprietary transportation layer that allows all types of devices, regardless of operating system, to communicate on a basic level. “Our philosophy is to keep it simple in both software and hardware solutions,” said Coy Christmas, founder and chief executive officer of Fasetto. “That’s the point of technology – to simplify and to make your life easier. Everything we do operates from that premise. Innately, our technology is easy to use.” Christmas and his business partner, Luke Malpass, started the company in 2013, using a KickStarter campaign. What was initially funding for just a small piece of Fasetto has emerged into a promising hardware and soft-

ware business that has grown its offerings and product lines significantly in three years, Christmas said. Christmas and Malpass came up with the idea while designing education software. They needed a place to store and share files, so they built what they needed. The pair also built in a messaging and communication component, the first of its kind, so users could communicate with each other within Fasetto. Today, in addition to Fasetto, the company offers Bonsai, a proprietary printer driver that allows users to save and share paper receipts, documents and invoices directly and digitally via a Fasetto folder, and also recently launched Link, a wireless solidstate drive with its own operating system and CHRISTMAS offline streaming capabilities. The

Superior-based Fasetto provides users the ability to store and quickly share files on multiple devices with or without an Internet connection.


latest version, unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show in January, will be available to the market in the fall of 2016. According to Christmas, Link allows users to store and access their created and purchased content from any device, without the use of an SD card. “The new design eliminates the need for an SD card when users are transferring data to and from any device,” Christmas said. “It simplifies the process by removing an extra piece of equipment and instead uses our transport layer to seamlessly and quickly upload or access content.” Link allows users to connect up to 20 devices and stream content to and from up to seven devices simultaneously, regardless of platform, Christmas said. The device is constructed of military grade ABS plastic, framed by metal, and is virtually indestructible. “It’s even waterproof up to 45 feet,” Christmas said. “Our digital content is important to us. We want users to feel like their content is safe, and will be accessible for years to come.” Fasetto currently employs five people in Superior, in addition to Christmas, with plans to hire several more employees in the first half of 2016. Malpass is located in the United Kingdom, and the company also employs other developers in different parts of the country.

MADISON LAB FREES FARMERS FROM RELIANCE ON ANIMAL ANTIBIOTICS Madison-based Ab E Discovery is tackling the use of antibiotics in the food animal industry head on with a new antibiotic-free method to protect animals against common infections. The commercialization of this research comes at a time when food industry leaders, farmers and the general public have growing concerns over the development of antibioticresistant bacteria stemming from the overuse of antibiotics in the industry. Nearly 80 percent of antibiotics in the United States are sold to farmers for use in animals. The antibiotics are used routinely to protect the animals against disease and to accelerate weight gain. Mark Cook, research professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Animal Science, in partnership with Jordan Sand, animal sciences associate researcher,



A product of BizTimes Media


Mark Cook and his team of researchers at UW-Madison have established a way to prevent disease in animals without the use of antibiotics. (UW-Madison)

discovered a way to help the animals’ immune system fight off disease without the use of any antibiotics. According to Cook, some bacteria are capable of activating an animal’s interleukin 10 – the “off switch” to an animal’s immune system. “We discovered a way to create an antibody that blocks the bacteria from turning off the immune system in the animal,” Cook said. “It’s much harder to develop a resistance to this treatment.” Cook’s team then injected the antibody vaccine into egg-laying hens, which in turn transferred the antibody to their eggs’ yolk, which can then be fed to other animals. The antibody eggs are made into a pow-

der that is sprayed on the feed for other animals to consume, Cook said. “It’s a very natural way to replace these antibodies,” Cook said, “and it’s no more unsafe than eating an egg.” Initial experiments conducted with approximately 300,000 chickens showed those who ate the antibody material were 100 percent protected against coccidiosis – a common bacterial disease of poultry that affects the intestine. According to Cook, smaller tests were also conducted using lambs and beef steers, which yielded similar results. In 2015, after being approached by a few food companies about using the product to produce antibiotic-free poultry, Cook knew they had to commercialize. With help from the University of Wisconsin, Cook and his team founded Ab E Discovery and tapped food industry professional Chris Salm, who had seen the product in use, as CEO. The goal is to continue testing the product in different capacities and scale up production using suppliers and facilities throughout Wisconsin. Cook said he is excited about the implications of the product, and the potential to treat additional diseases and infections in all species, including humans.

One University of Wisconsin-Madison dairy researcher has a vision: to take a seemingly worthless byproduct of making Greek yogurt, called acid whey, and turn it into valuable additives that can be sold to the food industry. Currently, the watery substance costs yogurt companies money for disposal. But Dean Sommer, a senior staffer at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, thinks of acid whey as a rich mixture of components such as lactose, galactose, lactic acid and calcium, as well as proteins, dairy minerals and water. That is problematic when those components are all mixed together, Sommer said, but could have value if they can be isolated and purified as individual products. Sommer explained that acid whey is nothing more than the serum, or watery portion, of yogurt. “All of us have opened containers of regular yogurt and have seen the clear liquid on the top,” he said. “This is acid whey and fit for human consumption as-is, but just not particularly palatable.” Sommer and his fellow researchers have done extensive development work to discover value-added uses for it. “In past years, acid whey was spread on farm fields as fertilizer,” Sommer said. “However, there are limits to how much of any product can be applied to any one piece of land. And land application is difficult during winter months, especially in northern states.” Consequently, most acid whey is being sent to methane digesters, where its sugars are converted to methane for energy production. It can also be made into cattle feed. In any case, it is a net loss to the yogurt producer. “We are concentrating on lactose because we felt it was, so to speak, the lowest hanging fruit,” Sommer said. “This is an economically fluid situation, as it all depends on the current market price for lactose.” Industry is already on board with the Dairy Center’s research and highly supportive of its efforts to show how various products can evolve from acid whey, including in meat marinades and in the pharmacological sector. 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ


polymers. Bio-based materials are sustainable, bio-compatible and biodegradable. And compared to other polymers, CNF actually has a relatively low thermal expansion coefficient.” According to Ma, the new chip is not only environmentally safe, it mimics performance similar to existing chips and also saves precious semi-conductor materials by using approximately 4,000 times less per unit.

UW-MADISON TEAM: WE’LL HAVE THE FRIES WITH THAT, AND HOLD THE CANCER Researchers at UW-Madison have developed a computer chip made entirely of biodegradable material which could have a massive impact on the world’s production of electronic waste. (Yei Hwan Jung, Wisconsin Nano Engineering Device Laboratory)

COMPOSTABLE COMPUTER CHIPS COULD CURB TOXIC WASTE, SAVE RARE RESOURCES Globally, electronics waste is expected to reach 93.5 million tons this year, up from 41.5 million tons in 2011. Generally, only a small percentage of today’s electronics can efficiently be recycled, leaving millions of tons of nonrenewable, non-biodegradable and potentially toxic materials in the world’s landfills. Gadget users will only continue to expand this problem in their search for the “next best device” – until someone comes up with an elegant solution. That someone may be a University of Wisconsin-Madison-based research team that hopes to curb waste with a biodegradable semiconductor made almost entirely out of wood. Zhenqiang ( Jack) Ma, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Madison, worked with professor Shaoqin (Sarah) Gong at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and learned that the woodderived cellulose nano filbril (CNF) paper could be used as a suitable substitute in the chips used to power many of these devices. “The CNF paper is biodegradable by fungi commonly found in the forest,” Ma said. The majority of today’s wireless devices use gallium arsenide-based chips, which can



be environmentally toxic in mass quantities. “ The quick upgrading of personal electronic gadgets has generated a tremendous amount of MA waste,” Ma said. It makes the electronics industry unsustainable and extremely environmentally unfriendly. Gong, a professor of biomedical engineering, has been studyGONG in g bio-b a se d polymers for more than a decade and says the CNF paper chips offer many benefits over current chips. “The advantage of CNF over other polymers is that it’s a bio-based material, and most other polymers are petroleum-based

With a five-year, $7.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists and others around the country are striving to reduce levels of a potential carcinogen called acrylamide that can be found in French fries and potato chips. The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations say that acrylamide poses a “major concern” and that more research is necessary to evaluate the risk of dietary exposure. Acrylamide is produced whenever starchy foods are fried, roasted or baked, but fries and chips have higher levels compared to most starch-based snacks. The UW study is helping identify new potato lines with less glucose, fructose and asparagine, which combine to form acrylamide when potatoes are fried. Project manager Paul Bethke said conventionally bred, low-acrylamide potato varieties are expected to be ready for commercial evaluations within a couple of growing seasons. According to Bethke, one goal is to identify those potato varieties or breeding lines that produce products with both outstanding quality and low amounts of acrylamide. A longer-term mission is to develop methods and generate information that enables potato breeders to more efficiently bring to market lines of potato with low acrylamideforming potential. “There is an economic component as well,” Bethke said, “because changes in varieties or production practices always entail a mix of benefits and risk. “The hope is that some of what we learned, in the context of looking for varieties that

A product of BizTimes Media

reduce dietary acrylamide consumption, will also benefit efforts to find potatoes with improvements in other attributes.” Bethke said it comes as a surprise to many people that Madison is a world leader in potato research. “We have a very strong extension team, an excellent working relationship with the potato industry locally and nationally, outstanding UW and USDA scientists doing cutting-edge research on the potato, plus an innovative potato breeding program,” he said. ”The biggest contribution of the farm community comes from its willingness to share expertise as producers and provide the perspective of people who grow, store and market potatoes.”

environment for the rearing of nearly any cool- or cold-water species.” According to Fischer, the facility is focused on educating farmers about technical and sustainable systems. The engineered solutions are capable of recirculating 95 to 99 percent of the water in the system. “It’s the future of aquaculture every-

where,” he said. As the demand for high quality fish for the bait and food industry increases, more and more product will need to be produced on farms, Fischer said. “And as the value of Earth’s water continues to rise, sustainable technology will become a requirement.”

Greg Fischer with an Atlantic Salmon at the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility. Right: Tanks at the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility.

AQUACULTURE IS WISCONSIN’S NEXT BIG FISH STORY Nearly 90 percent of all fish and seafood consumed in the United States today is imported from other countries. Yet the demand for quality local fish is on the rise throughout the country, and in Wisconsin. Greg Fischer, facility operations manager at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility is doing his best to help farmers throughout the state take advantage of those demands in an efficient, yet responsible way. “Globally, the demand for high-quality aquaculture-raised fish and seafood is huge – it’s one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture,” said Fischer. “Here in Wisconsin we’ve got the technology and the expertise to really take advantage of the demand for more healthy, locally-produced fish.” There are more than 2,500 fish farms in the state. According to Fischer, approximately 24 are commercial operations with multiple employees, but the economic impact of the industry is enormous. Annually, the industry sells $14.1 million in fish and minnows and contributes $21 million in economic activity to the state. The Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility features a state-of-the-art aquaculture showcase that includes flowthrough raceways, outdoor ponds and indoor facilities. “The resources we have allow us to adapt to the needs of the industry,” Fischer said. “We have the capability of providing the right

Right: The Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility has the ability to rear nearly any cool- or cold-water species of fish, including the Atlantic Salmon shown here.



WISCONSIN INVESTIGATORS LEAD WINNING TEAM VS. HEAD INJURIES Continued reports of athletes and soldiers suffering head injuries in sports and combat has led to worldwide discussion about the lasting effects of concussions and other serious brain injuries. Much of the research needed to identify such injuries and determine their long-term consequences is taking place right here in Wisconsin. Michael McCrea, neuropsychologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has conducted several large-scale brain injury studies over the past two decades and is now a year into an innovative study on sports-related concussions for the Concussion, Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium. “ The first lane of our study really looks at the natural history of recovery, meaning, clinically, how long does it take an individual to achieve a MCCREA complete recovery?” McCrea said. “The newest frontier is really extending that work to understanding the neurological recovery. What we’re trying to understand is, once a person tells us the symptoms are gone physically, what is happening in the brain by conducting cognitive tests on the brain to determine if neurologically they’ve returned to ‘normal.’” What McCrea and his team first need to determine is whether or not there is lag time for the brain to return to normal after a person physically feels “OK.” They do this through advanced MRI, measurements of brain connectivity and blood flow, blood tests and even genetic tests for correlations and pre-dispositions, McCrea said. “Our goal is to collect this data and establish biomarkers for recovery six hours postinjury, 20 hours post-injury, 8 days, 14 days, 45 days post-injury, etc. We’re plotting the course of clinical and physiological symptoms over time while also documenting physical data about the injury and the athlete.” 78


The study is currently the largest of its kind, with more than 25,000 athletes from a variety of contact sports including football, soccer, lacrosse and hockey. It will continue for one to two more years, McCrea said. For McCrea, the most rewarding aspect of his work is seeing the clinical translation. Past studies have directly impacted the development of specific concussion assessment protocols and return-to-play guidelines around the globe, he said. “We have the same hope for this research,” McCrea said. “We hope this deeper dive translates into a direct effect on the updated guidelines, the methods for diagnoses, and the management of concussions. “Our goal is to maintain the competitive landscape of sports while also maximizing safety for all those involved.”

MARSHFIELD CLINIC LEARNS DRUG DELAYS LOSS OF SIGHT Millions of Americans already use the drug L-DOPA to treat Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome and other movement disorders. Now, researchers at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation have found that individuals taking the drug are significantly less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, a disease affecting the eyesight of more than 9 million Americans. The study was done in partnership with

researchers from the University of Arizona, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Miami, Essentia Health, Stanford University and the University of Southern California. “Research points to this as a pathway to regulate and prevent this most common cause of blindness in adults,” said Murray Brilliant, director of the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation Center for Human Genetics. “Imagine telling patients we potentially have medication that will allow them to see and continue enjoying life, their family and perform everyday activities as they age. That is very powerful.” Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of blindness in adults over 60. According to Brilliant, this research is the first step in deciding if L-DOPA in pill form can be used to prevent AMD. Initial research was conducted using health records of 37,000 Marshfield Clinic patients. Researchers looked at patients with AMD, those taking L-DOPA and those who had taken L-DOPA and been diagnosed with AMD. Results indicated those individuals who took the drug were diagnosed with AMD an average of eight years later than those who were not taking the drug. That research led to an even larger study with more than 87 million patients where similar results were observed. In all the groups examined, the data suggests L-DOPA may prevent or delay AMD. The next step in this research is to perform a clinical trial to determine the ability of this drug or similar drugs to prevent AMD. A product of BizTimes Media

EPS REVOLUTIONIZES AVIATION INDUSTRY WITH NEW DIESEL ENGINE The small farming town of New Richmond is home to Engineered Propulsion Systems, a company focused on a high-tech approach to revolutionizing the aviation industry. The company’s state-of-the-art general aviation diesel engine is lightweight and has achieved the best fuel economy in the industry for its class. The engine offers advancements in reliability, safety and durability and has shown up to 40 percent fuel savings in testing when compared to turbine engines. Anonymous investors recently contributed an additional $1.4 million to further the testing of the new engine. This is in addition to the nearly $8 million granted to the company by the U.S. Department of Defense Air Force Rapid Innovation Fund since 2012. The second grant, totaling $4.7 million, began in October and will continue through 18 months, said Paul Mayer, chief financial officer of the company. Funds are being used to produce more preproduction and conforming engines to be used in testing, Mayer said. It will also help expand the company’s facility by 33,000 square feet. Engine designers and company founders Michael Fuchs and Steven Weinzierl have more than 40 years combined experience designing engines for the automotive and motor-sport industries. For 15 years, Fuchs, now president and chief executive officer for EPS, worked for Germany-based Schrick GmbH, where he designed and executed prototype engines of all kinds for manufacturers, including Volkswagen, GM/Opel, Ford and Arctic Cat. Weinzierl, vice president and chief technology officer for EPS, worked with Polaris for several years before moving on to Schrick, where he met Fuchs when they co-led a team to design a new family of small fuel-injection engines for Arctic Cat ATVs. The pair knew the aviation industry was in dire need of engine advancements. Despite improvements to aircraft frame design, pro-

EPS’ lightweight diesel engine is the first of its kind, and could lead to better fuel economy,


safety and reliability for pilots.


New Richmond-based Engineered Propulsion Systems has produced a new high-tech engine for the aviation industry.

Continued on next page.



Fiber-reinforced concrete developed at UW-Madison protects buildings like this one against frequent earthquake activity. (Cary Kopczynski & Company)

pellers and safety systems, the basic engine design had hardly been touched. Fuchs and Weinzierl set out to provide a more cost-effective, pilot-friendly and environmentally responsible engine for the industry. “No one was looking at this problem and asking what they could do if they started fresh,” said Weinzierl. “And that was crazy considering the decades of advances we’ve had in engineering, in electronics, in manufacturing, in computer-aided modeling. For engine designers like us, this was a dream we just had to pursue.” Today, the company has three locations, in New Richmond, in Mojave, Calif., where testing of the new engine takes place, and in Burscheid, Germany, to be close to strategic partners and the epicenter of aviation automotive innovation. In 2013, EPS built a pilot manufacturing plant in New Richmond in order to machine the majority of the components found in the engine itself. The company is approximately halfway through the FAA certification process needed to sell engines to the general aviation industry. Mayer hopes that certification is com80


plete by the first quarter of 2017. According to Mayer, the company will sell engines next year to the aviation and military industries so they can start their own certification processes.

FIBER-REINFORCED CONCRETE SAVES TIME AND MONEY FOR CONTRACTORS A 1.5 million-square-foot, mixed-use luxury building in Bellevue, Wash., is saving time and money thanks to a University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental engineer. Gustavo Parra-Montesinos, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UWMadison, in collaboration with James K. Wight of the University of Michigan, developed a steel fiber-reinforced concrete that can replace intricate and expensive rebar systems – which is particularly beneficial in areas with high seismic activity. According to Parra-Montesinos, all cou-

pling beams that span the doorways and windows in the Lincoln Square Expansion are made of the fiber-reinforced concrete. Traditionally, those beams would have been reinforced with a labyrinth of rebar, which adds cost PARRA-MONTESINOS and time to the construction process. “Placement of the rebar in these link beams can sometimes control the construction schedule,” said Cary Kopczynski, whose Seattle-based firm is the structural engineering company for the project. “Most of the west coast of the U.S., of course, is a highly seismic area, so when you’re building concrete structures, they require a lot of intricate rebar to carry the seismic loads.” Parra-Montesinos’ solution incorporates steel fibers into the concrete, which provides the stability and performance of rebar but also speeds up and simplifies the construction process. Kopczynski incorporated the fiber-reinforced coupling beams into a portion of The Martin, a 255-foot, 23-story apartment building completed in Seattle in 2013. According to Kopczynski, the initial project reduced the level of uncertainty associated with the product. The fiber-enforced concrete is faster to install, less expensive and reduces the potential for errors in the field, he said. The new product is not yet included in the American Concrete Institute’s building code, but Parra-Montesinos hopes it will be included in the next edition, which will be released in 2019. “I think we’ve come up with a very robust design,” Parra-Montesinos said. “We just need to be able to specify the minimum performance requirement for the fiber-reinforced concrete based on standard material tests.” Parra-Montesinos and his students are studying other types of steel fibers incorporated into the concrete in various quantities. “Ultimately, we expect to establish a link between material behavior and seismic performance of the coupling beam so that users are not required to use the same fiber and in the same amounts as we used in our past research,” Parra-Montesinos said. “This is a required step to develop design provisions for the building code.”

A product of BizTimes Media

SEEING HOW WE SEE: MEDICAL COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN OPENS VIEW ON EYESIGHT The retina of the human eye is made up of hundreds of millions of cells, photo-receptors commonly known as “rods” and “cones.” Together, those two types of cells transmit messages of light and color to the brain to form the images we sense as sight. Ironically, one of those imaging cells, the rod, has up to now been considered too small to capture in an image. Joseph Carroll, co-director of the Advanced Ocular Imaging Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin, is changing that picture. The work Carroll, his codirector Alfredo Dubra, and their team of vision scientists, clinicians and engineers are doing to advance ocular imaging CARROLL has the potential to significantly improve detection, diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases. Historically, capturing images of rod cells has been almost impossible. According to Carroll, optometrists used to labor to simply draw what they saw under a microscope. “We were the first group to successfully image the rod photo receptor cells in the eye,” Carroll said. “We’ve developed the highestresolution system on the market, and we’ve

The left images are of the peripheral retina, while the right images are of the cones at the center of the fovea (small cells are rods, larger cells are cones).

proven that you can, in fact, capture images of these cells.” According to Carroll, many degenerative eye diseases begin in the rod cells, despite the fact that the cone photo receptor cells are responsible for the majority of a person’s vision. Medical imaging is now a $2 billion a year industry, Carroll said. “Eye imaging makes up nearly half of that,” he said. “This technology has completely transformed the field of ophthalmology, and the potential for this, and additional research, is enormous.” The research is not yet commercialized, and Carroll knows the industry will have to drive the need. That still might be five to ten years away, he said. “We’re doing classic, hypothesis-driven research,” Carroll said. “We have the freedom to take the research in multiple ways to see what we can discover, see what we can do for the field. The tools and technology we develop may not be exactly what the industry

needs but we have collaborations with several imaging companies who will tell us what the industry demands from our research.” Not only is the technology being developed innovative, the approach to obtaining the research is, too. The Advanced Ocular Imaging Program is currently home to 12 students and additional faculty and fellows with a variety of different backgrounds and expertise including only medicine, cell biology, engineering, neuroscience, image processing and computer programming. Students and faculty come to collaborate from Milwaukee-area schools including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Marquette University, the Medical College of Wisconsin and as other global collaborators. “I don’t think this program works anywhere else,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a very unique environment here that thrives off this type of collaboration.”

HIGH IMPACT: BIOSCIENCE MATTERS TO WISCONSIN’S ECONOMY Wisconsin’s bioscience industry has a long-standing entrepreneurial history of innovation and success. And, according to BioForward’s 2015 Wisconsin Bioscience Economic Development Report, that success has an even greater impact on the Wisconsin economy than previously thought. “In order for any industry to start communicating its impact you have to have the data,” said Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward, Inc. BioForward hired consulting firm Ernst &

Young in 2015 to conduct the study. The report indicates that Wisconsin’s bioscience industry is comprised of 1,600 companies with more than 36,000 direct employees, and is made up of companies that manufacture life science kits, agricultural biotechnology products, medical devices, diagnostics and therapeutics, and health IT services. Additionally, the report indicates that the bioscience industry generated more than $27 billion in economic impact – direct and indi-

rect – for the state and generated more than $716 million in tax revenue. The average salary for an individual in the bioscience industry is approximately $73,241 – more than $30,000 higher than the overall private sector average wage in Wisconsin. In 2013, the bioscience industry in Wisconsin paid employees $6.5 billion dollars. “Higher wages mean more disposable income, more spending, more tourism and more jobs for the community,” she said.





A TOOL THAT FENDS OFF INJURY WHILE FEEDING THE ECONOMY Nearly 30 percent of worker injuries in the gas utility industry come from changing meters. Left in place for years, the meters are often painted over and rusted, making nuts difficult to budge. Gas technicians have used adjustable pipe wrenches to change meters, but the large tool can slip when a lot of force is applied, causing injuries that often require surgery. Determined to bring down the number of these injuries, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Engineering Professor Naira Campbell-Kyureghyan and her graduate students designed a new kind of industrial wrench that eliminates slippage and reduces the shoulder muscle activity needed for the task by 40 percent. The researchers then sought input from Kenosha-based toolmaker Snap-on Inc. “What I saw was a tool that improves the way technicians were doing their work,” said Andy Lobo, director of product management and development at Snap-on Industrial, a division of Snapon Inc. Company officials liked the prototype so much that they licensed the idea and made some modifications of their own, which CampbellKyureghyan’s students tested in the lab and with utility companies.

Professor Naira Campbell-Kyureghyan holds a wrench that she helped design. Sold by Snap-on Inc., it reduces injuries of workers in the gas industry.

The new tool is lighter and designed to work with several

interchangeable heads, so that technicians don’t have to carry the added the weight of multiple specialty wrenches in their tool bags. Last summer, Snap-on officials added the wrench to the company’s product line and it is now on the market. Campbell-Kyureghyan is devoted to using biomechanics to keep people safe and productive at work. With a background in worker safety in the construction, energy and manufacturing sectors, she has studied a range of occupational hazards, including the effects of vibrations from jackhammers, exposure to extreme heat, falls from ladders and even the effectiveness of protective gear. While completing her doctorate, she applied computational modeling to health care projects, such as musculoskeletal biomechanics, and it galvanized her choice of ergonomics. “The work was so satisfying,” she said. “I realized I could apply my engineering knowledge to people and their health rather than to robots.” Campbell-Kyureghyan’s wide range of expertise has made her a go-to source for policymakers. The Department of Labor has used her work to improve safety in foundries and small metalcasting businesses. After joining the UWM faculty in 2009, she discovered that little information existed on ergonomic conditions in the gas industry, so she formed the Consortium for Advanced Research in Gas Industries (CARGI), now an organization of more than 200 partner companies that pool resources to fund studies on various safety and productivity issues. In their first year, CARGI partner companies decided to investigate solutions to the problem of wrenching injuries. Campbell-Kyureghyan’s students collected data on injuries that occur in the field. That work led them to the idea of an improved tool. “Biomechanics is a very important part of tool design because you can’t see how the body is responding from the outside,” she explained. “You need data on what’s going on internally.”



FEDERAL PROGRAM TAPS UWM TO GROW STARTUPS Starting a business and doing academic research both involve experimentation and gathering data. So why don’t more university researchers participate in startup companies? They first need to make a different kind of discovery by probing the minds of potential customers and businesspeople. Making these vital conversations happen is the goal of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee joined in 2014, serving as the Milwaukee base for the program that connects faculty members and graduate students from several universities with business mentors to learn entrepreneurial skills. The goal is to coach 90 teams in southeastern Wisconsin by fall 2017.

Nationwide, more than 1,000 teams have received I-Corps training. A deep customer-discovery process is the distinguishing hallmark of the program, said Steve Visuri, a member of Wisconsin’s Golden Angels Investors network who participated in I-Corps with his startup company, FloraSeq LLC. Instructors guide teams on a marathon of interviews, find them mentors and link them to sources of early-stage funding. Once they’ve gathered data, teams can decide whether to proceed. Next steps could be licensing their technology, applying for federal funding, launching their venture or starting over.

“The increased activity that comes from I-Corps will help southeastern Wisconsin gain a reputation for commercializing innovation,” said Brian Thompson, president of the UWM Research Foundation.

“The whole idea with lean startup methodology of I-Corps is you find out what the customer wants before you spend a lot of money on developing the idea further,” said James Hunter, Bostrom Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Lubar School of Business and a serial entrepreneur since the 1970s.

Nineteen teams completed the training during I-Corps’ first six months at UWM.

“You may find your initial idea wasn’t as good as you thought.”

As Wisconsin’s only public urban research university, UWM has established an international reputation for excellence in research, community engagement, teaching and entrepreneurism. The University of WisconsinMilwaukee is recognized as ONE OF THE TOP 115 RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES IN THE COUNTRY out of more than 4,600 post-secondary institutions.

Dave Clark, UWM associate professor of English, signed up for I-Corps to explore whether his idea for software that improves people’s writing could be a successful startup.




isconsin is a state with one foot in the old world and one in the new. While manufacturing and agriculture will likely always be cornerstones of our economy, we have made great strides towards innovation in water technology, bioscience and entrepreneurialism and, thanks to our Wisconsin-based health care system, insure over 90 percent of our residents. To our great advantage we are also practical people, instinctively building bridges to connect the past, the now and what will come.





When Water Tech I is completed, Zurn Industries, LLC will locate its new headquarters in the Reed Street Yards Water Technology Park, adjacent to the Global Water Center.



hen it came time to pick a location for Zurn Industries, LLC’s new headquarters, the choice was easy for the maker of plumbing products for commercial, municipal, health care and industrial markets: the Reed Street Yards Water Technology Park. The 16-acre business park is adjacent to the Global Water Center and the heart of the area’s water industry cluster. More than 150 water-related companies are located in the Milwaukee area. That high number of related businesses – especially manufacturers – concentrated in a particular region is called a cluster by economic development leaders. When it comes to advanced manufacturing, clusters play an integral role in helping businesses grow, said Buckley Brinkman, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity. “Wisconsin is home to multiple industry clusters that provide strength to those involved in them,” he said. Manufacturing clusters range from water in Milwaukee to the defense industry in northeastern Wisconsin. Statewide, manufacturing remains the number one employer, with more than 19 percent of the state’s workforce involved in the industry. “Manufacturing is what we’re about in Wisconsin, and we’re building on it and specializing,” Brinkman said. Clusters normally form organically, said Connie



Loden, senior project manager with New North Inc. For example, the defense industry cluster in northeast Wisconsin grew out of success at two different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – Oshkosh Corp. and Marinette Marine. Both need suppliers to help them make the equipment they supply the defense department, either ships or heavy machinery. “That cluster really has its roots in the paper industry since a lot of machine shops and other manufacturers sprang up through the years to help them,” Loden said. “As that industry began to wane, the manufacturing of heavy equipment – and then defense – in the region took off, and it was a natural fit for those suppliers.” The concentration of manufacturing companies in the northeastern part of the state is five to seven times the national average, Loden said. “OEMs get a reliable source of suppliers close by and they have a lot to choose from,” she said. “It’s easier for them to work with a company nearby than someone in another state.” As for the water industry cluster around Milwaukee, that development was driven not only by local manufacturers, but also academic institutions, said Meghan Jensen, director of marketing and membership for the Water Council. “The Water Council didn’t create the cluster, the local manufacturers working in that sector and the universities created the cluster. The Water Council just brought

A product of BizTimes Media

"When it comes to advanced manufacturing, clusters play an integral role in helping businesses grow."

— Buckley Brinkman, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity.

a name to it,” she said. “The goal is to help members grow their own businesses. The variety of manufacturers involved, whether it’s a company in Manitowoc that makes ice machines or a company in Waukesha County that makes filters, is what makes this cluster so dynamic.” The Water Council helped generate excitement about the industry and will hopefully lead additional businesses to locate in the Milwaukee area, Jensen said. “There’s a lot of collaboration going on and we have a great ecosystem where, within one hour of your business, you have 150 others in the same industry,” she said. Zurn, which is moving its headquarters from Pennsylvania, will open its new facility later this year and like Rexnord, its parent company, is closely tied to the water industry. “Milwaukee has created an ecosystem for water technology companies like ours to access world-class talent, innovation and technology development, as well as research partnerships that will help shape and address the world’s water challenges,” Rexnord CEO and President Todd Adams said in a statement announcing the move. Not all clusters have a central nexus point like the Global Water Center. Jensen said the building, which houses water-centric research facilities for both businesses and universities, along with accelerator space for emerging water tech companies, will attract additional development and draw more water-related manufacturers and businesses to the area. Southwest Wisconsin’s machine tooling cluster was fostered by the presence of a strong OEM. “Trane and others were really the anchors in manufacturing and it spun off from there,” said Lisa Herr, executive director of the 7 Rivers Alliance, a regional economic development group that spans parts of three states. “The thing with large OEMs is that they need other

machine shops to help them fulfill their orders. The legacy of manufacturing here attracted similar businesses to start or move here.” While the La Crosse area’s machine tooling cluster remains strong, Herr does have one concern – the workforce. “We have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Each year we do a retention and engagement survey and 85 percent of companies, who are mostly manufacturers, indicated they want to grow,” she said. “But are there enough skilled workers to do that?” The 7 Rivers Alliance is applying for a capacity-building grant with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to create community response teams to make sure the area is doing all that it can to attract and retain talent, Herr said. “We’re all working together on this – the local technical colleges, the chambers and workforce agencies – since we see it as such a need. If we can’t find the workforce, the industry’s growth will be affected,” she said. During the 2000s Oshkosh Corp. saw tremendous growth as the U.S. Department of

Defense was fighting two wars, and many of its suppliers grew along with it. As defense spending declined, Oshkosh began cutting jobs and many suppliers saw their workloads drop. The East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission sought a grant from the Department of Defense to help companies in the Oshkosh supply chain diversify and seek out new industries. “Our goal was to try to mitigate some of that and help these companies find new work and keep more people employed,” said Loden, adding that as part of the grant the New North compiled a Supply Chain Marketplace online directory. “These businesses offer a lot of sought-after services, but they just need to be found.” Keeping the suppliers strong benefits Oshkosh as well since “that means they’ll be here when their orders pick up again and it’s not like everything stopped at Oshkosh. Many of these suppliers not only supply the defense sector, but also the construction or emergency vehicle segments.” Over time, Loden said the area, which already transformed itself from focusing on the paper industry to the defense industry, could see another shift. “There’s really a lot of potential,” she said. “We want our suppliers who are now making O rings for Oshkosh to know that there’s a market out there for their O rings in other sectors, too, and we want to help them enter those clusters. Keep doing what you are for the defense industry, but also find new industries in which to grow.”

Taking shape Wisconsin has a new organization to help guide its manufacturing efforts, the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, Inc. The center received $4 million in federal funds from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers. If that sounds a lot like what the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) and the University of Wisconsin-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center are doing, you’re right. This new organization serves as an umbrella organization for the two, said Buckley Brinkman, the center’s executive director and CEO, who previously served in that role for WMEP. The new center offers a diverse set of services in exporting, supply chain management and sustainability while focusing on five strategic industry clusters: power generation and control, water, food and beverage, biotechnology and aerospace. “We’ll also be able to partner with other advanced manufacturing initiatives out there in the country,” Buckley said. “This really simplifies what’s being offered in Wisconsin and will allow us to do even more.”





Associated Bank, headquartered in Green Bay, is Wisconsin's largest bank.



n an industry that prizes stability, it’s been anything but lately for the financial and investing sector. From the first interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve in nine years to a bevy of mergers and acquisitions, the sector is riding out the waves of change and planning for what’s next. “There’s definitely a great deal of volatility right now,” said Willie Delwiche, an investment strategist with Baird. “That volatility affects those in the industry, but also spreads out to the wider economy.” The decision last December by the Fed to raise its key interest rate by 25 basis points – from 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent – in itself was small, Delwiche said, but sent a psychological message that the economy was healthy. “The rate increase is really a net positive for banks and the economy as a whole,” he said. “When the Fed wasn’t willing to raise rates, it made people think that maybe the economy wasn’t strong.” In a Wisconsin Bankers Association survey conducted just before rates were raised, 70 percent of WBA members



said a rate increase would not affect their loan portfolios and 73 percent had no plans to change their core deposits. “It’s a new world for those business leaders who have never seen a rate increase,” said Sara Walker, chief economist and senior DELWICHE portfolio manager team leader at Associated Bank, which is headquartered in Green Bay and is Wisconsin’s largest bank. “Some have only worked in a world with either falling interest rates or rates holding steady so they’re not sure what it means.” As for what the higher interest rates mean, Walker said it’s different for investors and businesses looking to borrow money. “For investors, there’s less of that tailwind from the falling rates that kept corporate expenses low and drove

A product of BizTimes Media

money into the stock market,” she said. Tim Taffe, senior vice president for Thrivent Federal Credit Union, which has branches in Appleton and Minneapolis, said businesses looking to borrow funds for an expansion project or buying new equipment shouldn’t worry about the higher interest rates. “Five years ago, there was less competition among lenders since many were preoccupied with managing what they already had on their books and watching that,” he said. “Now, there’s more intense competition for loans. Businesses looking for funding have a lot more sources to choose from.” Most financial institutions responded to the Fed’s action by slightly raising interest rates on their loans, but Taffe said the increase was so small that businesses might not notice, especially since competition is heating up for their loan business. “We know that most likely more increases are coming, but the Fed has made itself clear that they plan to take small steps,” he said. For investors, the Fed’s actions have more meaning, Delwiche said. By raising rates, the Fed sent the message they won’t take steps because of market volatility – something stocks have seen a lot of lately because of other outside influences, especially global markets. “The Fed’s not going to come in and rescue the market. It needs to stand on its own,” he said. In addition to raising interest rates, Walker said the Fed also released more money into the system, which means there is more money available to lend. “The Fed wants to send the message that the economy is healthy and that businesses should have more confidence regarding their growth plans,” she said. So far, business response to the higher interest rate has been muted, Walker admitted. “Businesses know it’s a transition period, but it’s not like they’re delaying capital plans,” she said. “We’re definitely moving away from a place where businesses were afraid of taking out loans and trying to do everything with cash-on-hand.” Higher interest rates aren’t the only change happening in the financial industry. Wisconsin financial institutions that are more acquainted with handling deals for other businesses are busy with their own mergers and acquisitions.

For both banks and credit unions in Wisconsin, acquisitions have created opportunities to enter new geographic markets and increase asset bases. Investors Community Bank’s holding company in Manitowoc gained a presence in the Fox Valley with the purchase of The Business Bank, a subsidy of the Fox River Valley Bancorp. The purchase allows Investors, which went public in early 2015, to increase its presence in the Fox Valley with the addition of The Business Bank’s branches in Appleton and Green Bay. The purchase also provides Investors with a larger commercial lending portfolio, a nice complement to its strong ag lending portfolio. Nicolet National Bank of Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay’s Baylake Corp. also announced a merger, creating the fifth largest bank based in Wisconsin. When the $141 million deal is

The number of state bank branches also declined, according to a survey from SNL Financial that looked at how many bank branches opened and closed between April 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015. Wisconsin had 2,197 branches at the end of the survey and saw one branch open but 13 close during the survey period. After the survey was published, Associated Bank announced last July that it planned to close seven branches across Wisconsin. The growing popularity of digital banking, transaction trends and proximity to other Associated branches led the bank to make the decision, officials said when the move was announced. While Associated scaled back its branches, it did grow another part of its business – Associated Financial Group, a subsidiary that provides employee benefits,

 or both banks and credit unions in Wisconsin, F acquisitions have created opportunities to enter new geographic markets and increase asset bases. complete later this year, the combined bank will bear Nicolet’s name. Beyond the big-name mergers, several smaller institutions also joined forces, from the State Bank of Chilton acquiring Calumet County Bank to the University of WisconsinOshkosh Credit Union merging with Prospera Credit Union in Appleton. Since the passage of banking reforms in 2008, many smaller financial institutions have struggled to keep up with and pay for new regulations, said Rick Van Drisse, who served as UW-Oshkosh Credit Union’s board chair until the merger was finalized in December. He said new technology, such as mobile banking, is also expensive for smaller institutions to keep up. “It’s tougher to operate a smaller credit union,” he said. The numbers bear that out: According to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institution, Wisconsin had 233 state-chartered credit unions in 2010. That number fell to 151 by the end of 2015.

business insurance and human resources consulting, with its purchase of Ahmann & Martin, a Minnesota-based risk and benefits consulting firm. The new addition will make Associated Financial Group one of the nation’s top 50 insurance brokerage firms. Racine’s Johnson Financial Group, the parent company of Johnson Bank, also added to its portfolio with the acquisition in early 2016 of Cleary Gull Advisors Inc., a Milwaukee investment advisory and wealth management firm. The newly integrated company will be known as Cleary Gull Advisors Inc., a Johnson Financial Group Company, and have more than $8.5 billion in assets under administration. “The move is part of our growth strategy for our wealth business and strongly demonstrates our commitment to the Milwaukee market. It positions us to be a leading provider of investment advisory and retirement planning services,” said Thomas Bolger, Johnson Financial’s president and chief executive officer.





Headquartered in Appleton, ThedaCare operates seven hospitals in northeast and central Wisconsin. (ThedaCare)



here’s no question the Affordable Care Act transformed the landscape for health care providers and insurers. One of the biggest change is the partnerships formed by once-competing health care systems as they seek to pool resources to drive down costs and improve patient care. Wisconsin is home to two major health system collaborative organizations – AboutHealth and the Integrated Health Network of Wisconsin. Those programs are moving away from a fee-for-service payment model to one based on value, where care providers are eligible for payment incentives based on meeting evidencebased measures such as lower hospital readmission rates and chronic disease management, patient satisfaction, disease prevention and total cost savings. To make that possible, the organizations partner with insurance providers. Last year, Arise Health Plan, a Madison-based wholly-owned subsidiary of WPS Health Insurance, signed a singular contract to sell co-



branded products with seven of the eight AboutHealth providers (one member – Marshfield Clinic – joined as contract negotiations were finalized and isn’t part of the agreement.) “Getting that contract signed was a huge deal,” said Scott Kowalski, executive vice president of WPS Health Insurance and chief operating officer of Arise Health Plan. “It required a lot of work on everyone’s part and shows you just KOWALSKI how far collaboration in health care has come.” Formed in 2014, AboutHealth members include Aspirus, Aurora Health Care, Bellin Health, Gundersen Health System, Marshfield Clinic Health System, ProHealth Care, ThedaCare and UW Health. Geographically,

A product of BizTimes Media

the network covers nearly all of Wisconsin. “We have the triple aim of improving the quality of patient care, lowering costs and making the experience more enjoyable,” said AboutHealth President and CEO Greg Devine. “We want to be involved DEVINE in driving payment reform and award providers for quality, and by joining together we can better do that.” The Integrated Health Network of Wisconsin, launched in 2010, consists of Agnesian HealthCare, Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert Health, Hospital Sisters Health System, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Min-

chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, to make sure they get the right preventative care. “As all of it comes together, it improves the quality of care JANAVITZ delivered to patients while lowering costs,” Janavitz said. “We’re on the leading edge of what’s going on in the health care industry as it changes from getting paid for every procedure or appointment to how an overall patient population is cared for.” As the health care systems aligned, it made sense to look for insurance companies to partner with, Janavitz said. Some were natural, such as IHN working closely with Network




"Health systems realized people were seeking care across multiple systems and there was no true picture of what was going on with a patient’s health. There was just this realization that we needed to collaborate…"

— Kurt Janavitz, CEO, IHN

istry Health Care, Prevea Health, SSM Health and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. IHN coverage is focused in eastern Wisconsin and central parts of the state. “The ACA really got the ball moving on the formation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which is how IHN got its start,” said IHN CEO Kurt Janavitz. “Health systems realized people were seeking care across multiple systems and there was no true picture of what was going on with a patient’s health. There was just this realization that we needed to collaborate without giving up full control.” IHN’s care model is consistent across its participating health systems, whether it’s the transitional care model, where a care navigator reaches out to a patient after a hospital visit to answer questions and make sure he follows up with his primary care provider, or complex care management for patients with

Health, which is owned by two members, Ministry Health and Froedtert Health. They also formed an ACO with UnitedHealthcare. The insurer, which has 1.5 million members in Wisconsin, provided technology and information to augment IHN’s care management and data systems with the goal of helping medical providers lower costs, identify specific care gaps and provide real-time information about emergency room and inpatient admission to better manage a patient’s ongoing care. “We’re trying to change the game by providing bonuses for quality improvement,” said Dustin Hinton, president and CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin. “By working closely with providers, we can provide them with key data so they can help treat patients better.” Arise Health Plan previously worked with several AboutHealth members, so it made sense to pull it all together, Kowalski said.

Madison 608.257.5321 Milwaukee 414.272.8788





ThedeCare is part of the AboutHealth accountable care organization. (ThedaCare)

“It takes a lot of work. There’s a joint operating committee made up of all the health care systems as well as myself that meet monthly to move issues forward,” he said. “We also increased the number of counties in Wisconsin where we sell insurance – it’s up to 50 for 2016 – so our footprint overlaps that of AboutHealth.” Arise also worked individually with one AboutHealth member, Aspirus Health, to create a co-branded health product. “It’s a joint marketing agreement and really helps consumers better understand just who is delivering the care. It’s working well and attracts notice from consumers,” Kowalski said, adding that in 2016 Arise expects two-thirds of its individual exchange customers will live in the Aspirus service area where the co-branded product is offered. “We worked very closely with Aspirus over the past two years to achieve that outcome.” Aspirus Network Executive Director Kathryne McGowan said that when healthcare providers and insurance companies come together, the patients benefit. “It’s the right use of time, energy and money for us to work together and remove as many barriers to care as possible,” she said. “The co-branded product allows us to have more people on the same plan with the same benefits so we can develop programs that provide optimal care.” While the state’s health care and insurance industries have witnessed plenty of change in the past few years, Kowalski predicted more to come. “The market is changing so fast. It’s a challenge to plan past 18 months out,” he said. “It’s definitely not how it used to be.” 92


Building boom for Wisconsin insurers There seems to be no stopping Wisconsinbased insurance companies when it comes to growth. From Acuity in Sheboygan to Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee, insurance firms are expanding their headquarters or building new ones. A quick recap: Northwestern Mutual is building a new headquarters in downtown Milwaukee that will total 1.1 million square feet Northwestern Mutual's new Milwaukee headquarters. when completed in 2017. The 32-story Northwestern Tower and Commons will keep 1,100 jobs downtown and provide room to add 1,700 more. Construction crews continue to work on the $100 million expansion at Acuity Insurance. When completed, an estimated 450,000 square feet will be added, including a 65-foot Ferris wheel. When complete, the Sheboygan headquarters will be 50 percent larger. Secura Insurance in Appleton is also looking at either expanding its current campus or building a new headquarters at another location in the Fox Cities. That project – like Northwestern Mutual and Acuity – is being driven by growth. Secura received $2.5 million in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic and Development Corp. to help with an estimated $90 million in equipment and construction costs. The company is working with CD Smith Construction on a master plan and hopes to break ground next year. In Merill, Church Mutual Insurance Co. renovated a former Wal-Mart in the city and will move about 200 of its 1,000 employees. The location includes offices, a fitness center and a cafeteria.

A product of BizTimes Media

The healthcare industry is ever changing. We can help you set the pace.

At BMO Harris Commercial Bank, we understand the dynamics of today’s healthcare industry. From managing your capital and debt structure to controlling costs, our healthcare industry professionals can help your organization run more efficiently. That’s how we can help make your vision a reality. Banking products and services subject to bank and credit approval. BMO Harris Commercial Bank is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC



Wisconsin’s bioscience industry accounts for $27 billion in total economic output annually. The University of WisconsinMadison is home to several labs where researchers are discovering new technologies that can be used in businesses. (WARF)



wenty years ago, Wisconsin’s bioscience industry barely registered on anyone’s radar. Today it’s a completely different story: the sector now accounts for $27 billion in total economic output, according to a recent BioForward-commissioned whitepaper. Expect to hear even more about the industry as current initiatives strive to strengthen and grow bioscience companies across the state. “The bioscience industry is all about high-tech health care solutions, bringing together not just life sciences, but also medical technology and health technology,” said Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward, an organization that advocates for Wisconsin’s bioscience industry through legislative advocacy, STEM education and promoting the industry’s positive impact on the state. JOHNSON “There are so many segments, from therapeutics and diagnostics to engineering and the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients.” The afore-mentioned BioForward whitepaper, executed by Ernst & Young and completed in 2015, states



that bioscience jobs are high-paying and have a 2:1 multiplier, which means that for every industry job created, two more are added in other sectors, such as construction or retail. More than 1,600 bioscience companies employ about 36,000 people statewide. “These jobs have an average salary of $73,241,” Johnson said. “Behind energy, it’s the second-highest-paying sector in Wisconsin.” Investors are taking note of the state’s bioscience industry, with companies receiving nearly $1 billion from the National Institutes of Health and other capital sources. Healthfinch of Madison is a recent example. The Madison-based software developer received $7.5 million in late 2015 from investors led by Adams Street Partners of Chicago. Healthfinch, which employs 29 but hopes to hit the 50-employee mark by the end of 2016, creates software to handle mundane tasks so health care workers can focus on other duties. Co-founder and CEO Jonathan Baran said its first app – called Swoop – automatically routes routine prescription refill requests to medical office staff instead of physicians if patients meet certain criteria. That simple change can free up 15 to 30 minutes each day for doctors. “There are 2,000 physicians using the app and the new funds will allow us to ramp up even more,” Baran

A product of BizTimes Media

said. “The rapid adoption and demand from health systems for Swoop is a clear indication that automating routine and repeatable tasks is the future of health care delivery.” The company’s other two apps focus on patient communication. One reaches out automatically to patients overdue for a visit while the other helps automate what patients need to do before coming in for their appointment, such as bringing in a list of their medications. Baran said the new funds will help the company integrate the three apps into one platform. “Every entrepreneur dreams of securing funding from those who believe in their vision and will help them succeed. I’m thrilled to be working with a group of investors who share our passion to transform health care,” he said. When looking at the bioscience industry in Wisconsin, Johnson said the influence of the state’s universities and other organizations that conduct research can’t be ignored. She said academic institutions such as the University of Wisconsin (UW), Marshfield Clinic and the Medical College of Wisconsin create an environment where innovation thrives. It also attracts and retains researchers. “The University of Wisconsin has more than $1 billion in annual research expenditures and is a major draw for potential investors,” Johnson said. The federal government is another investor in state bioscience firms. Stratatech of Madison has received $47.2 million in the past year to support the preclinical, clinical, regulatory and technological development activities needed to gain FDA approval for StrataGraft, a synthetic skin tissue to treat thermal burn injuries. Stratatech was initially formed to commercialize a discovery made at the University of Wisconsin. “These investments show there are opportunities for Wisconsin companies to secure funding for their ideas, but they can’t do it on grants alone,” Johnson said. “The University of Wisconsin as well as the Medical College of Wisconsin are looking at being more entrepreneurial in their thinking around their discoveries, but the industry definitely needs more investment.” That’s seen in D2P (Discovery to Product), a joint program between the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the UW to help campus staff members turn their ideas into companies and products.

While WARF, which promotes technology transfer and research commercialization across the state, doesn’t focus solely on bioscience, that segment does make up a significant part of its portfolio. Brainxell is one new company benefiting from D2P. Launched in 2015 by Dr. Su-Chun Zhang, a renowned UW neuroscientist who created a method of “editing” stem cell genes that could one day help clinicians delete disease-causing genes, Brainxell plans to take that research and turn it into real treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s and spinal cord injuries. Zhang said his company will focus on creating cell lines, reagents and screening methods to support new therapeutic options. He added that without D2P he wouldn’t have known where to start.

for $277 million. The company kept its core research, development and manufacturing bases in Wisconsin. “We’ve seen several Wisconsin businesses purchased by outside companies, who then decide to strengthen and grow here,” Johnson said. “They recognize what we have.” The key now is to continue spreading the word. The 2015 Wisconsin Bioscience Economic Development Report: Energizing Wisconsin’s Economy hopes to do just that. The report provides an in-depth look at the state’s bioscience industry while also looking at ways to spur additional economic growth. A vital component to the industry’s growth prospects lies in its workforce. “We’re looking to play off a slogan of ‘We Make it Here,’ which we think will resonate

"The University of Wisconsin has more than $1 billion in annual research expenditures and is a major draw for potential investors.” — Lisa Johnson, CEO, Bio Forward “It’s really eye-opening for faculty focused on discovery-based research” to take ideas and turn them into commercial offerings, Zhang said. “I learned it takes a lot of work to take technology from the lab to customers.” While Wisconsin didn’t start out as a bioscience juggernaut, discoveries and research at the state’s universities and elsewhere during the past two decades, combined with the Badger State’s strong manufacturing tradition and know-how, turned it into one. The state has also benefited from the presence of giants such as GE Healthcare in Pewaukee, which makes medical equipment, and Epic Systems in Verona, which creates electronic records systems for health care providers. Other companies started in Wisconsin were later acquired by larger entities looking to enter the state’s bioscience industry, Johnson said. For example, TomoTherapy was founded in 1997 in Madison and develops, manufactures and sells the Hi Art treatment system, a radiation therapy system for the treatment of various cancers. In 2011, it was acquired by California-based Accuray

well with millennials since they want to make things,” Johnson said. “Not all of the jobs are in development, but also in manufacturing. That manufacturing is very high-tech and advanced. It’s an exciting industry.” Products made by Wisconsin’s bioscience companies are sought after in global markets, said Katy Sinnott, vice president of international business development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. When it comes to exporting, medical and science equipment ranks third behind industrial manufacturing goods and agriculture. “We have seen a big increase in medical and science equipment exporting,” Sinnott said. “Another area related to bioscience – organic chemical compounds – has grown 64 percent. There is demand out there in the world for the products.” Those words are something Johnson and others involved in the industry like to hear. “Getting investment in our bioscience companies is key to their future growth, and their growth means good economic news for Wisconsin,” she said.





Reed Street Yards renderings. Water Tech I (left) and Water Tech II (above).



“The saying goes, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Well, excuse me for putting it this way, but Holy (expletive)! They’re coming! “In that movie, Field of Dreams, there’s that parting shot of this endless stream of cars coming down the road. And you’re thinking, ‘Where are we going to park all those cars?’” From 44 business, community and institutional leaders who gathered in 2007 to talk about Milwaukee’s future as a freshwater technology hub, to the 60-some members who had officially coalesced around the Water — Dean Amhaus, CEO, Water Council C ounci l by 2010, things have grown. pace of bringing that ambitious dream to reality has Water Council membership now numbers more than been a windmill in a hurricane. The stakes are high: the 180. It includes businesses ranging from major cormonetized global water industry and surrounding trade porations (A.O. Smith, Badger Meter, Rexnord) to is estimated at half a trillion dollars annually. seed startups like Hanging Gardens (green roofs) and “It is in some ways frightening,” said Dean Amhaus, Stonehouse Water Technologies (portable water filCEO of the Water Council, the membership organization tration systems). Research institutions include the that directs the many moving parts of the water initiative. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater, n air of electricity pervades Milwaukee’s Global Water Center, a nervous excitement that feels exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. It’s an adrenaline-fueled rush that won’t stop, tinged with a hint of anxiety – a vexing "how do we keep up this pace?" Considering that just the bare light bulb of an idea of promoting Milwaukee as the water technology hub of the world was switched on less than a decade ago, the

"The saying goes, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Well, excuse me for putting it this way, but Holy (expletive)! They’re coming!"



A product of BizTimes Media

Marquette, Concordia and Mount Mary. A host of established small businesses and nonprofits round out the roster. The Global Water Center, a refurbished seven-story, 98,000-square-foot warehouse at South 3rd Street and Freshwater Way ( formerly East Pittsburgh Avenue), opened in 2013 and is filled with tenants. Among them is the BREW – “Business. Research. Entrepreneurship. In Wisconsin.” The Water Council-sponsored accelerator program funds startups that show a potential for commercialization. In 2015, the BREW named its third annual round of seed startups, six more companies that will benefit from $100,000 in initial investment, a suite in the Water Center, and access to state-of-the-art labs and research and development partners’ knowledge. Foremost among those is University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Science, the only graduate school in the nation focused solely on freshwater research. But University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, with a new minor in water business, and Marquette, now with a program in water law, also figure prominently. Two new buildings are being developed in the adjacent Reed Street Yards. Dubbed Water Tech I and II, they are the first of as many as nine buildings totaling over one million square feet planned for the Yards. Water Tech I is already leasing, but the biggest news in 2015 came when Rexnord Corp. decided to move the headquarters of its affiliate, Zurn Industries, from Pennsylvania to Milwaukee, along with 120 jobs. Zurn, which manufactures a wide range of plumbing fixtures, will occupy Water Tech II as the first global headquarters landed by the Water Council. For Amhaus, there are other accomplishments every bit as promising. One is that early adopters of the global water hub concept are spawning their own offshoots. “Veolia was first,” he said, referring to the French-founded multinational that manages Milwaukee’s sewer and water treatment systems. “Now they’re bringing in their own startups, three new initiatives. So we’re already seeing a second generation of growth. “In a few short years, we’ve seen six new companies grow to nine, to 12, to 16 – that number is unheard of. And I look out my window and see that new building going up, and another on the way… We’re just getting started.”

Yet another headline moment in 2015 was the release of a study showing the economic impact the Water Center has already had on its own neighborhood. From 2010 to 2014, the audit concluded, water hub investment

and development surrounding it amounted to $211.6 million. That adds 16 percent to the property tax base for the city’s Fifth Ward, an area that previously had been only slowly recovering from a long post-industrial decay.

Making the unthinkable, drinkable 2016 will see the first deployment of a Water Center-incubated technology outside the Menomonee Valley, which is, after all, the purpose of this grand plan. “That’s the next evolution – expansion – moving things out of the lab into the real world,” Amhaus said. Stonehouse Water Technologies has developed the Water POD (Potable On Demand), a portable water filtration system. It can be transported to practically any site, set up in next to no time and, while consuming a very small amount of energy, produce 3,000 gallons per day, per unit, of safe, clean drinking water from even a highly polluted source. “You can hook it up to solar, you could even pedalpower it if you needed to, it takes that little power,” said Anne Wick, director of communications. “You can draw from a polluted river or lake and make it safe. And at the same time, it does not remove healthy minerals that we need in our bodies.” Wick is also a registered nurse, and has seen appalling conditions in the worst slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Her background in human biology tells her what is happening. “I couldn’t help thinking how many of those people were going to die,” she said. “Children who will not grow up but will die of water-borne diseases. We have a way to prevent that.”

This unit can create 3,000 gallons of potable water per day, using negligible power. (Stonehouse Water Technologies)

godfather of the Water Center – it was he who convened the first meeting in 2007 – sees the Water POD as a better response to disaster relief, in the United States or anywhere. “In a Katrina-like situation, the Water POD could be a real solution,” Meeusen said. “FEMA has depots set up all over the country, stocked with bottled water, and they truck it in. But water is heavy. You can’t compress it.” It’s a challenge to transport and distribute water, and you have to keep on bringing it as long as the disaster lasts.

Stonehouse has plans to place Water PODs in Kenya, Tanzania and the Dominican Republic, possibly this year.

“But the Water POD, you can deliver it on the back of a truck. Getting it down to that size is key. You set it up once and use the water you have.”

But none of those sites will be the first.

Wick cites an even more timely example.

“We were looking at Kenya as our first customer,” Wick said. “But it’s actually going to be much closer to home. We have Third World conditions right here in our own state.

“I think of what we could do to help Flint, Michigan, if we were further along. But we weren’t scaled up to send 100 units up there.

“Some 36 percent of the wells in Kewaunee County are contaminated, mostly with nitrates from agricultural runoff,” Wick said. “There are 900,000 cows in Kewaunee County. “So our first Water POD will be set up at Algoma High School. The parents, the community, have just been so eager to work with us. They are so concerned for their children – and who wouldn’t be?” Rich Meeusen, the CEO of Badger Meter and

“It’s just such a sad, sad situation, but it’s also a wake-up call to the United States. Our infrastructure is old, it’s failing. There are still lead pipes everywhere. It makes me so angry to think that maybe hundreds of kids are going to suffer lifelong developmental problems. “I would like to say to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, ‘Call us, come and see us, because we’re having trouble getting hold of you. Come see what we can do. I will bake you cookies.”





Upper left and right: Meijer began purchasing potatoes from Alsum Farms & Produce in Friesland, Wis., nearly 4 years ago. They’re among more than 125 growers across the Midwest that participates in the Meijer locally-grown program. (Meijer) Lower Left: Bennan's conducts site visits ro every farm before carrying its products.



onsumers demanding to know more about their food choices now have the tools to do so, driving major changes in the food supply chain. Food companies historically have had little communication with consumers, but given today’s environment, that is no longer the case, asserts Jeff Young, Bader Rudder president. His Milwaukee B2B marketing agency supports a host of national food-related clients such as AgroFresh and CSK Food Enrichment. For Young, businesses within the food world are becoming increasingly transparent, ready to answer consumers’ questions. “The way consumers look at food is changing. They see beyond the product on the grocery store shelf and are increasingly interested in how that product was made and what ingredients it contains,” Young says. He points out that at the same time, consumers demand



more open and honest communication with businesses in general. “Supply chain advances in technology can help create opportunities for food brands to have more datadriven and meaningful dialogues with consumers about their products,” Young asserts. According to Whole Foods Market spokesperson Allison Phelps, the firm “embraces our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities and our planet, can flourish.” Buying locally-grown products bolsters local economies and contributes to responsible land development and the preservation of viable green spaces, Phelps asserts. “Whole Foods Market is proud to carry over 1,000 Wisconsin-made products and source around 40 percent of our local produce from Wisconsin farms,” she says. Among its local suppliers are artisan cheesemakers

A product of BizTimes Media

"Buying locally-grown products bolsters local economies and contributes to responsible land development and the preservation of viable green spaces."

— Allison Phelps, Whole Foods

Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin and Carr Valley Cheese Company, with others such as Sartori producing cheeses exclusively for Whole Foods Market. Other Wisconsin suppliers include Colectivo Coffee, Pasqual's Tortilla Chips and Rushing Waters Fisheries. Large and small Wisconsin grocery outlets are equally enthusiastic about utilizing state purveyors and are happy to tell consumers that “local is good.” For the Madison-headquartered Brennan’s Markets, most vendors have been longtime partners. Company president Tim Culhane explains that the company “seeks growers who are leaders in their field and who stand above the ordinary, always looking to grow or produce a better product.” He acquires food products from about 50 Wisconsin vendors. Brennan’s representatives make site visits to every farm operation before okaying its produce or meats. “This is a cornerstone of Brennan’s since it was founded in 1942,” says Culhane. For him, “kicking dirt’” with a farmer is key to getting the best product and finding out what new things they are experimenting with growing. Keeping track of inventory is done by physical counts and daily discussions with store personnel, with a combination of direct deliveries and pick-ups by Brennan’s fleet. Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee is the largest natural food co-op retailer in Wisconsin in sales and fourth in the nation. It works with more than 30 local produce farmers, says Margaret Mittelstadt, Outpost’s community relations director. Supplying local produce is not simple arithmetic, she explains. “That’s why it’s so important that our buyers develop real and lasting relationships with our local farmers. We can work with them in good times and in bad. We won’t abandon them if the product typically meets our policy requirements, but it may not look perfect that year,” Mittelstadt

affirms. “That’s life on the farm!” “We get to know each of our Wisconsin vendors individually, often working with them before their product is ready for market,” she says. This process helps bring them online in terms of labeling compliance and other requirements. To even be considered, all products first need to be in compliance with Outpost’s product policies. Mittelstadt indicates that growers want to sell to Outpost because the member-driven cooperative has a reputation for being a good customer. “We can be selective as to who we buy from. We’re looking for the best quality, handling and on-farm sanitation,” she says. As with any business, there are criteria to be met. Outpost vendors need to be capable of getting their product to market, with logistics in place to deliver affordable product efficiently and within its receiving hours. The company also looks for Wisconsin-made products that are affordable, have mass

appeal and price accessibility – and no artificial ingredients. “We review documentation for claims like fair trade certification, organic certification and commercial kitchen licenses,” says Mittelstadt. Relatively new to the Wisconsin market, the Meijer grocery chain has a long-standing commitment to buying locally-grown produce when available as long as the quality meets its high standards, says Christina Fecher, the firm’s public relations manager. “It’s what our customers want and deserve,” she adds. Meijer uses its own trucks to pick up the produce from a central distribution center and deliver to its stores daily. By purchasing local from suppliers like Alsum Foods & Produce in Friesland, Wis., Meijer cuts fuel consumption, helps reduce transportation costs and keeps down prices, says Fecher. She stresses that Meijer takes the subject of food safety seriously, holding each of its growers accountable for following all FDA food safety regulations and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), with voluntary audits verifying that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored as safely as possible. “Meijer buyers and brokers routinely visit many of the farms as an extra level of accountability.”

Closing the supply chain gap with technology Robert Roese’s Next Step Technologies provides programming services to food distributors who use IBM iSeries systems. He can modify the client’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and provide an interface that passes data to and from server-based systems, as well as custom design applications. Since the majority of wholesalers are traditionally privately-held, small companies without an internal programming staff, Roese stepped in early on to offer an independent solution for such business challenges. In 1992, Roese signed his first client, Waukesha Wholesale Foods. He now supports clients in 16 states. Many belong to the UniPro group, the country’s largest food service cooperative. Headquartered in Atlanta with a sales office in Oshkosh, UniPro’s 900 distribution locations serve more than 800,000 customers, with member companies representing more than $60 billion in annual sales revenues. Among participating Wisconsin firms are Badger Wholesale in Green Bay, Madison’s Loffredo Food Products and Valley Bakers Cooperative Association in Greenville. Next Step’s services range from project management and order processing through corporate payroll, accounts payable and sales analysis. Clients include hospitals, restaurant chains and related non-retail industries that have dealings in the food industry.





The 2016 World Champion is Wisconsin’s Team Emmi Roth USA's Roth Grand Cru Surchoix, a washed rind, semi-hard cheese.




hen it comes to cheese, Wisconsin has again demonstrated that it’s the Alpha on the cheese wheel. State cheesemakers crumbled the competition at the World Championships held this March at Monona Terrace in Madison, including taking home the top prize. The 2016 World Champion nod went to Team Emmi Roth USA's Roth Grand Cru Surchoix, a washed rind, semi-hard cheese.

This is the first time a cheese made in the U.S. has taken such honors since 1988. First runner-up was Urnäscher Hornkuhkäse, a smear-ripened semisoft cheese made by Johannes Schefer of Urnäscher Milchspecialitäten AG, Urnäsch, Switzerland. That’s not all. Roth's Private Reserve and its 3 Chile Pepper Gouda took other high honors, scoring 99.7 and 99.4 in their respective categories.

Wisconsin captured 38 percent of all awards, snaring a total of 127 prizes. This year's contest drew a record-breaking 2,955 entries from 23 countries, 31 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. The Dairy State’s closest competitor, California only garnered 25 awards. New York, striving for more bragging rights, came in with a mere 24 laurels. Wisconsin’s power play brought home 42 Best of Class Awards, 37 second place and 47 third place awards, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). This year's contest marked the fifth consecutive World Championship in which Wisconsin has won more than 30 percent of all awards, claiming 30.8 percent in 2008, 31.3 percent in 2010, 37.8 percent in 2012 and 39 percent in 2014, said Patrick Geoghegan, the marketing organization's senior vice president of corporate communications.



MORE WISCONSIN WINNERS Wisconsin cheesemakers swept 20 of the 110 classes in the 2016 World Champion Cheese competition held in Madison this March. The wins were in Open Class: Shredded Cheese, Flavored & Unflavored Prepared Cheese Foods Mozzarella, Part Skim Parmesan Aged Asiago (over six months) Feta Feta, Flavored Havarti Havarti, Flavored “These results reinforce what people around the world already know: Wisconsin's reputation for making some of the best cheeses in the world is well deserved,” asserted James Robson, CEO of the marketing board. “Exceptional milk from Wisconsin dairy farms becomes exceptional cheese in the hands of Wisconsin cheesemakers. That is a hard combination to beat,” Robson pointed out. “We consider the Emmi Roth win a win for the entire state.” “The cheeses judged at this competition are, without a doubt, the best in the world, and all of the cheesemakers who participated here are to be commended,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition. “Win margins are incredibly thin, often with just tenths of a point separating the medalists from the rest of the pack,” he told Cheese Market News, the weekly newspaper for the cheese industry. 2016 World Champion Grand Cru is no slouch when it comes to ribbon-winning. It has snared high honors with the American Cheese Society, the Wisconsin State Fair and the World Dairy Expo championships, plus golds at the highly respected Global Cheese and World Cheese competitions in the United Kingdom.

After the win was announced amid cheers, Tim Omer, president and managing director for Emmi Roth USA, said, “This is a tremendous honor. Our cheesemakers in Monroe, Platteville and Shullsburg are producing amazing cheese and I'm thrilled they are being recognized for their achievements on this level." The company is a subsidiary of the Swissbased Emmi Group. With the victory, vendors around the state scrambled to get their share of the championship treat because of the explosive demand that came with the win. Look for it at finer cheese purveyors around the state. Grand Cru can be used as an appetizer, especially with charcuterie, as grating on pasta, or as a standout served with fig preserves, almonds or hazelnuts. According to the Emmi Roth tasting specialists, wheels of Grand Cru are cured for more than nine months, resulting in what the company labels as “highly complex favors with caramel and mushroom undertones.” So raise a toast to Wisconsin with a Riesling or Muscat, either wine making a perfect pairing with the World Champ. For a heartier hail, hoisting a porter or stout is another grand way to celebrate the state’s dairy farmers, cheesemakers and dairy scientists.

String Cheese String Cheese, Flavored Brick, Muenster Gouda, Flavored Smear Ripened Hard Cheeses Bandaged Cheddar, Mild to Medium Bandaged Cheddar, Sharp to Aged Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food Cold Pack Cheese Spread Pasteurized Process Cheeses Colby



Photos couresty of © 2016 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.


Total U.S. cheese production in pounds for January, 2016 (excluding cottage cheese) according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

336.6 million

Production in pounds of mozzarella, the nation’s most-made cheese, in January, 2016. Total Italian-type cheese production, of which mozzarella is the largest component, was 434.8 million pounds in January. Wisconsin’s statistical contribution to the mozzarella count was 89,700 pounds.

295.9 million

Cheddar’s robust tally for January 2016. Meanwhile, It’s the nation’s second most-produced cheese, for good reason. Total American-type cheese production, of which cheddar is the largest component, totaled 400.4 million pounds.


The number of pounds of milk required to produce one pound of cheese. Wisconsin led the nation’s cheese production with 262.1 million pounds in January, 2016. California followed with 205.8 million pounds. Overall, Wisconsin cheesemakers produce more than 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese, including being the only state where Limburger is made.

1.2 million

Head count for our state’s dairy cows. Each of these bovine beauties generates $34,000 a year in local economic activity, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). Based on information from UW-Madison's Center for Dairy Profitability, a 250-cow Wisconsin dairy farm spends an average of $675,000 annually in supplies and services purchased from local retailers.

$88.3 billion

Overall, Wisconsin agriculture is a $88.3 billion industry, creating nearly 413,500 jobs. The dairy business directly supports 78,900 jobs, the WMMB reported, indicating that the employment multiplier for dairy is 2.23. This suggests that every job in dairy supports an additional 1.23 jobs elsewhere in the state’s economy. Dairy's $43.4 billion comprises nearly half of that total agriculture contribution.





WISCONSIN 10,000 dairy farmers including a

new generation of young, forward-thinking, committed leaders



Dairy contributes

An economic powerhouse

$43.4 BILLION annually to Wisconsin’s economy, creating and supporting jobs, local communities and public services.

A concentrated, vital infrastructure, dedicated to the industry’s success:

Cheese RULES 25% of all cheese sold in the U.S. is made in Wisconsin

200+ cheese, butter, milk and dairy processing plants 120+ ag colleges, research stations, Discovery Farms and Extension offices World-renowned Center for Dairy Research & The Center for Dairy Profitability, both based at the prestigious University of Wisconsin-Madison

Wisconsin dairy farms are:

99% family-owned

Diverse, with operations ranging from <10 to 1,000+

COWS. (Our average: 129)

Our rigorous Master Cheesemaker certification program helps Wisconsin cheesemakers achieve the highest levels of artistry in their profession and is the only program of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Producing more milk every year. In 2015, Wisconsin dairy farms produced 29 billion pounds of high-quality milk, making up 14% of the nation’s milk supply.

In Wisconsin, dairy is more than just our currency. It’s our engine. Our heritage. And, our heart and soul. To learn more about America’s Dairyland, visit © 2016 WMMB, Inc.

Brought to you by the dairy farm families of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.



Raw materials arrive in Wisconsin via large ships through the state’s ports. The Port of Green Bay handled more than 2 million tons in 2015 and is the second busiest port in the state.



ransportation and logistics play an integral role in the success of Waupaca Foundry. With sites in Marinette, Indiana and Tennessee, the Waupacabased company relies on the Port of Green Bay, railways and over-the-road trucking services to make sure it has the raw materials necessary to produce its iron castings and ship them to customers across the country and around the world. “There are so many facets when it comes to transportation. Companies use a variety of methods,” said John Bozec, senior vice president and general manager of bulk for Schneider National, a Green Baybased transportation and BOZEC logistics company and one of the largest truckload carriers in North America. “Our loads are pretty evenly split between bringing in raw materials to a business and then moving finished goods to consumers.” While some of those raw materials, such as paper pulp, are produced in Wisconsin, the majority enter the state via the Great Lakes ports or by rail. The Port of Green Bay primarily receives inbound commodities, with the largest shipments being limestone (which is used by both the paper and agriculture industries), cement, liquid asphalt and salt, said Port



manager Dean Haen. What happens after the product arrives depends on the material. “Limestone is processed right away and then leaves the area by railcar,” Haen said. “Other products get trucked out to where they need to go. Georgia-Pacific has its own dock and handles all its own products as they come in.” Haen said port activity is a leading indicator of ecoHAEN nomic activity, since companies order fewer raw materials when there is less demand. “We had a huge year in 2014 – it was our best since 2007 – and it really showed the economy was coming back strong,” he said. “We’re awaiting 2015 final figures, but we were down from 2014. We still took in at least 2 million tons, though, which is a lot.” In both size and activity, the Port of Milwaukee is the state’s largest, bringing in an estimated 2.4 million tons annually. In 2014, the number of foreign vessels arriving at the Port increased by more than 20 percent, said Port director Paul Vornholt. Steel and grain saw big gains over 2013, with the Port handling the second largest tonnage of steel in its history. “Many factors affect the volume of cargo that moves through Milwaukee’s port,” he said. “The global economy,

A product of BizTimes Media

currency exchange rates, friendly competition among Great Lakes ports and competing modes of transportation all play roles in international shipping trends.” Bringing in large items through the state’s ports helps businesses since it lowers transportation costs, Vornholt said. If businesses could only move items via rail or truck, overall trans-

always used teams of two drivers for our B2C customers so products could reach their destination more quickly.” Another way Schneider seeks creative solutions is through intermodal transport – pairing up with carriers such as railroads. Some products, like liquids and chemicals, may be mainly transported via rail, Schnei-

"There are so many facets when it comes to transportation. Companies use a variety of methods."

— John Bozec, senior vice president, Schneider National

portation prices would be higher, he added. While only large items can be moved economically right now on the Great Lakes, Haen predicts that in 15 to 20 years shipping containers will be used. That would make it more economical to ship smaller loads by water. “I think we’re definitely moving in that direction,” he said. In Milwaukee, both the Union Pacific Railroad and the Canadian Pacific Railway serve the port, providing direct pier delivery and necessary switching services. That connection between railways and ports is vital since it helps heavy cargo reach their destinations. Wisconsin has 3,600 miles of rail tracks, moving an estimated 80 million tons of cargo annually. When it comes to moving products via the railway, Canadian National is the top carrier across northern and east-central Wisconsin, while BNSF has a busy line that runs parallel to the Mississippi River in the western part of the state and Wisconsin & Southern Railroad moves products and materials through southern and southeastern Wisconsin, including the busy Milwaukee market. Once manufacturers are done making a product, trucking companies usually step in to help the goods get to consumers. To customers, “urgency” is the key word, said Schneider’s Bozec. “Customers are seeking to balance their inventories and want us to innovate and be creative in getting products as quickly as possible to their destination, while still paying important attention to safety,” he said. “For example, during the holiday season we

der’s bulk unit delivering the products the final few miles to their destination. The process also works in reverse, with rail providers hauling Schneider trailers. “That option gives truck-like service to a customer, but with rail’s cost-effective appeal for moving large cargo,” Bozec said. “By using that service, it gives companies one less thing to worry about.”

Moving large quantities of goods and materials necessitates warehousing. While some companies, such as Fox River Dock Company in Green Bay, remove and store recently arrived raw materials from shipping vessels, others like WOW Logistics store cheese in refrigerated warehouses closer to their retail destinations while they properly age. Many large retailers have their own warehouses. Amazon runs a regional distribution center from a massive facility along Interstate 94 in Kenosha County, while WalMart, the world’s largest retailer, has operated a large warehouse in Beaver Dam since 2007. Dollar General is building a new distribution center in Janesville, with the city beating out several other Midwest sites. The center will open by the end of the year and serve more than 1,000 Dollar General stores in the upper Midwest. The overall growth of e-commerce and the addition of distribution centers in Wisconsin is good news for the state’s trucking industry, Bozec said. “E-commerce continues to grow and more customers want to be in that space, so that means moving products differently,” he said.

The name’s the thing Brown County and airport leaders voted in late 2015 to change the name of Austin Straubel International Airport to Green BayAustin Straubel International Airport to help market it to travelers. The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of approving the name change, but it should be complete before next fall. Austin Straubel was a World War II hero from Green Bay. It will be the second Wisconsin airport to change its name in as many years. Outagamie County Regional Airport changed its name to Appleton International Airport in 2015. Officials approved the name change so travelers could more readily identify where they were flying into, said Pat Tracey, the airport’s marketing manager. “When people fly into somewhere, they want to be able to find it on the map. You can’t find Outagamie County easily on a map, but you can find Appleton,” he said. The airport also adopted the “international”

WW II hero Austin Straubel’s name will remain when Green Bay changes its airport’s name to the Austin Straubel-Green Bay International Airport.

part of its name by gaining approval to have a U.S. Customs and Border Protection station that can handle private aircraft with up to 20 passengers and cargo.





The Wisconsin Energy Institute at the University of Wisconsin is active in biomass creation research, which looks at taking biomass – such as wood chips – and converting it into energy. (Matthew Wisniewski)



he state’s manufacturing expertise, combined with innovative thinking and roots in the state’s universities, creates a powerful spark for growth in Wisconsin’s energy and automation industries. The state is already home to several large manufacturers with ties to the energy sector. Prominent among them are Kohler Co., which makes generators in addition to its plumbing fixtures; Johnson Controls, a producer of advanced batteries and other energy storage devices; and Rockwell Automation, which manufacturers control systems and other products to aid in manufacturing automation. Combined with the brainpower at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University and other state colleges and universities, an ideal environment for innovation in the energy sector has been created. This is according to Alan Perlstein, executive director of the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC). “There are a lot of synergies coming together around energy and the power and controls sector space, not only in Wisconsin, but around the Midwest,” he said. “It’s a high-tech field with good-paying jobs and is definitely in a growth mode,” adds Michael Corradini, director of the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI). “We can build on the success already here and grow it more.” Perlstein agreed. “We hope companies will stay here



and create new jobs,” he said. “The Midwest is home to a huge number of companies involved in the manufacturing or distribution of energy, storage or controlling it. We want to be in that sweet spot where it comes together.” B oth Perl stein and Corradini believe the next PERLSTEIN wave of innovation will come in the distributed energy storage industry – an area where Milwaukee-founded Johnson Controls ( JCI) is already a leader. According to a Navigant survey, that industry is poised to grow from $675 million in 2014 to $15.6 billion by 2024. More companies using green energy solutions, such as wind and solar, can store excess power in storage batteries and tap into it when needed. For example, companies could use the stored energy when wholesale prices rise, which can save them money. Chicago’s Merchandise Mart is the first large client signed up for a new Johnson Controls system that uses both the lithium ion batteries it makes for hybrid vehicles and the storage systems from its building efficiency division. The Merchandise Mart already uses an energythrough-demand response program, which shuts off or A product of BizTimes Media

powers down energy-intensive operations when prices are high. The new system will allow the Mart to adjust quickly to changing conditions on the electric grid and has the potential to save it up to 35 percent on energy costs, said John Schaaf, vice president for Johnson Controls’ distributed energy storage department. While Johnson Controls has a robust inhouse program to develop new technologies, the WEI and M-WERC are playing an integral role in developing the “what’s next” in energy generation. Launched in 2009, the WEI supports the energy-related research of more than 100 faculty members and scientists at the UWMadison campus. Corradini said the institute’s goals are not only to discover and deploy innovative energy technologies, but also to engage the industry in research collaborations. “The goal is that these research activities will lead to the development of new processes and that new companies and more jobs will be formed,” he said. “What we do here is definitely related to economic growth.” M-WERC, of which the WEI is a member,

The WEI also collaborates with a number of businesses, including Johnson Controls, Inc. and ExxonMobile, on energy research projects. (Matthew Wisniewski)

vation to happen, Corradini said. Late in 2015, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation awarded the WEI a $3.5 million grant to help fund advance energy research. The WEI is active in biomass conversion research, which has the potential to transform the energy creation industry, Corradini

According to a Navigant survey, the (distributed energy storage) industry is poised to grow from $675 million in 2014 to $15.6 billion by 2024. was formed to create a cluster focused on the energy, power and control sector drawing its members from businesses, and educational and research institutions. Its focus is on collaboration and pulling together ideas, Perlstein said. The Energy Innovation Center (EIC) is part of that innovation. It opened last year inside Century City Tower. It provides a physical connection for members, who can take advantage of its office, meeting and lab space, including room to prototype new products. The building is also home to several tenants. “We’re big believers in open innovation and leveraging where we are now and where our members want to go,” Perlstein said. “It’s about developing technology and using it in new ways.” Investment is necessary for energy inno-

said. “We’re never going to get away from using fossil fuels, but if we can use them more efficiently and find other ways to generate energy, that is what we’re going after,” he said. The WEI also collaborates with industry leaders. For example, it’s working with ExxonMobile to research the fundamental chemistry of converting biomass into transportation fuels. Researchers previously used expensive precious metal catalysts such as platinum for biomass conversion, but WEI researchers led by George Huber, a UW professor of chemical and biological engineering, are trying to identify cheaper catalytic materials to use in the process. “Our work is related to research and development with the goal of creating processes that can help businesses grow,” said

Corradini, adding that WEI is also working with a couple of northeastern Wisconsin companies on developing advanced heat exchangers for industrial use. HyRax Energy is one company that grew out of research done at WEI. UW biochemistry professor Ron Raines developed a process that takes cellulosic biomass and converts it into renewable fuels and high-value chemicals. HyRax then partnered with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to accelerate the product’s commercial development. At M-WERC, it’s also about helping startups get off the ground. That’s where WERCBench Labs comes in. A 12-week accelerator program, it paired nine startups with highly experienced and technical mentors in hopes of helping them get to the next level. The first session was held last summer and another is slated for this year. As the program ends, participants have a demo day where they share their ideas. The first class featured new technologies ranging from underwater drones to wearable devices used to monitor muscle recovery rates, according to Greg Meier, the program’s managing director. WERCBench is now expanding with two additional offerings to bookend the program – a class to help people prepare for the accelerator application process and a class for program graduates that helps them keep moving forward by teaching them about the metrics they’ll need to deliver to potential investors, Meier said. 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ





1-3 Lumberjack Days



ummer in Wisconsin is a thing of pure beauty. Over a million people from our state and around the world take advantage of warm sunshine, sparkling lakes and brisk summer breezes, spending over $11 billion annually. It's the perfect time to experience Wisconsin’s many festivals. Locals and visitors can choose from a plethora of music festivals like Summerfest, Hodag or Country USA. They can pick boat or air festivals, beer festivals, cheese celebrations, or enjoy Wisconsin’s diverse heritage and history at cultural festivals and county fairs. While Milwaukee’s Summerfest is the world’s largest





music festival and Madison hosts the globe’s most massive brat feast, there is plenty to discover a little off the beaten path. Below is a sample of Wisconsin’s less traveled summer gems.


HAYWARD Fifty years ago, businessman Tony Wise established an annual event to celebrate Wisconsin’s logging heritage and the workday skills perfected by lumberjacks in forests across the nation. Today over 100 loggers travel from all over the world to compete in more than 21 events including log rolling, chopping and the 90-foot tree climb. Last year, both male and female athletes competed for more than $50,000 in prize money. The World Lumberjack Championship was previously held at Historyland – a theme park that commemorates the heritage of Wisconsin’s fur trade, Native American culture and the logging industry. Today, the three-day event takes place at the Lumberjack Bowl, formerly a holding pond for the North Wisconsin Lumber Company.

A product of BizTimes Media


OSHKOSH More than 60 years ago, EAA started as a small gathering of aircraft and aviators. At the time, it was known as The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Fly-In Convention and was held at what is now Timmerman Field in Milwaukee. Today the EAA Air Venture is one of the world’s largest aviation events, attracting more than 10,000 aircraft and 500,000 people to Oshkosh for a seven-day celebration of aviation. The event showcases flying machines from all eras of flight, plus over 500 forums, workshops and seminars, worldclass aerobatics, music, food and fun for aviation enthusiasts from around the world.





WARRENS Warrens is considered the cranberry capital of Wisconsin, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to the world’s largest cranberry festival. Each year, more than 120,000 visitors flock to Warrens for an immersive cranberry experience. Once visitors have toured the cranberry marshes, they can explore more than 1,200 vendors offering arts and crafts, a flea market, antique booths and countless homages to the amazing bog-grown berry. Nowhere else is there such an abundance of fresh cranberries, cranberry cream puffs, deep-fried cranberries on a stick and cranberry wine to be sampled while taking in a recipe or costume contest, a flower show, or a cranberry pieeating contest. Like your berries with brass? The festival is also home to one of the largest high school marching band parades in the Midwest. Best of all, in the festival’s 44-year history, it has given more than $2 million in donations to community organizations, area schools, the local fire department and the Warrens Lions Club. It has also established its own scholarship fund for college students.


SUPERIOR Dragon boats are an impressive sight: 40 feet of fiberglass and wood, dragon-dressed and carrying a crew of 22 that includes 20 paddlers, one drummer and one steer person. Fifteen years ago, the city of Superior held its very first Dragon Boat Festival. Today,



4, 5 EAA Air Venture 6 Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival 7 Warrens Cranberry Festival 8 Iola Old Car Show and Swap Meet

the two-day event includes more than 100 teams and boatloads of spectators who root for their favorite crews while taking in the allaround festive atmosphere. Since its inception, the festival has raised more than $1 million for the Superior and Duluth communities and is one of the largest dragon boat races in North America.


IOLA One of America’s largest collector car shows takes place in one of Wisconsin’s quietest villages. Iola has approximately 1,300 residents, but during the second week in July since 1972, thousands descend on this quiet 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




town for the Old Car Show and Swap Meet. The show sits on 300 acres of land and features more than 2,200 show cars from the 1930s through the '70s surrounded by swap and retail spaces, corrals and camping. The 2016 celebration will highlight the truck and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Charger. Iola knows how to treat company. The event offers food, refreshments and entertainment throughout the day plus free parking, shuttle services and complimentary wireless internet service.


WATERFORD There’s no sight quite like hot air balloons illuminating a Wisconsin summer skyline at sunset. Waterford offers that and more at its annual two-day Balloon Festival. The family-

Waterford Balloon Festival

friendly event attracts about 20,000 spectators and balloons from all over the country. With hot air ballooning, everything is naturally weather-dependent. When all is fair, visitors can get close to tethered, inflated balloons and even take paid rides before watching all of them light up the

evening sky at dusk. The otherwise early evening event also features a 5k run/walk one morning, a photo contest, kite-flying, bingo, kids’ activities, live entertainment and a vendor craft and art fair. Devotees can hang around until Sunday morning for a final mass ascension at dawn.

More world class golf coming to Wisconsin U.S. Open. The course, which ranked as the 42nd best golf course in the nation by Golf Digest, was also the site of the 2011 U.S. Amateur. Blackwolf Run in Kohler was the site of the 1998 and 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. Blackwolf Run’s River Course is the 91st best course in the nation, according to Golf Digest. The PGA Tour’s Champions Tour (formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour) is coming to Wisconsin in 2016; the American Family Insurance Championship will be played at University Ridge in Madison in June. Madison-based American Family Insurance has signed a three-year agreement to be the tournament’s title sponsor.

Erin Hills in Washington County. (Paul Hundley)


Wisconsin is a world class golf destination. The Straits Course at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan is ranked 48th in Golf Digest’s World’s Greatest Golf Courses list and was the site of the 2015 PGA Championship, won by Jason Day of Australia. Whisting Straits, owned by the Kohler Co., has become a frequent site of championship golf events featuring the world’s greatest players. The PGA Championship was also held there in 2004 and 2010; it hosted the U.S. Senior Open in 2007 and will host the Ryder Cup in 2020. But Whistling Straits is not the only golf course in the state attracting professional championship events. Erin Hills, located in Washington County 35 miles northwest of downtown Milwaukee, will host the 2017



The LPGA Tour will come to Wisconsin in 2017. The event, which will be called the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, will be held at Thornberry Creek, a course owned by the Oneida Nation and located near Green Bay. The Oneida Nation has agreed to a three-year deal with the LPGA Tour starting in the summer of 2017. The biggest golf event in Wisconsin in 2017 might not be the U.S. Open or the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, however. Anticipation is high for the opening of Sand Valley Golf Resort. Situated on a 1,700-acre sand dune site near Nekoosa in central Wisconsin, the resort is being developed by Mike Keiser, who developed the acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. Two of the courses at Bandon Dunes made the Golf Digest World’s Greatest Golf Courses list, and Sand Valley is also expected to be a top attraction. The first course will open there in 2017, and the second in 2018. Keiser hired some of the best golf course architects in the world for Sand Valley. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed the course that will open in 2017. David McLay Kidd designed the course that will open in 2018. Kohler Company is also working on plans for another course, which would be built south of Sheboygan along Lake Michigan. The company says it will be a “world-class public course that offers golfers an unmatched experience.” The course will be designed by Pete Dye, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who also designed Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run.

A product of BizTimes Media

redef ining experiences

meeting |'mētiNG| noun

1. The work/life balance of PowerPoint presentations and doubling down on the blackjack table.


Building a career






ducation in Wisconsin continues to exceed expectations. Our students still rank among the most proficient in the country, despite political disruption, drastic budget cuts and the subsequent need to constantly do more with less and less. And while the outlook for an increase in resources for education remains uncertain, we are most fortunate that our educators have continued to grow and adapt to meet the needs of not only Wisconsin students, but also Wisconsinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s workforce.





Culinary students at Lakeshore Technical College gain real-world experience by learning all aspects of running the school’s restaurant and serving actual customers. (Lakeshore Technical College Hospitality and Business Program)


ver the next decade, nearly 55 percent of Wisconsin’s jobs will require a technical education. With 49 campuses across 16 districts and additional outreach facilities designed to work with local communities throughout the state, Wisconsin’s Technical College System is uniquely positioned to impact the Wisconsin economy. Nine out of every 10 Wisconsin Technical College System graduates are employed within sixth months of graduation, and graduates currently work for companies like Apple, Disney and the Green Bay Packers. Most stay in the state.



“Our primar y interest is in transforming our offerings to inspire the next-generation learner,” said Morna Foy, president of the WisFOY consin Technical College System. “That’s not about how old you are; it’s about learning style and opportunity.” More than 370,000 students at varying

stages of their academic career take advantage of the System’s programs and curriculum each year, focusing on industries like manufacturing, engineering, business, information technology, health care, hospitality, tourism, culinary arts, food processing, renewable energies and agriculture. With a strong focus on modern manufacturing, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay has recently remodeled its labs and shops. The school has also established bilingual and weekend programs to reach more students, and has implemented mobile labs to bring high-tech manufacturing education to rural areas. The college has been designated a World Class Manufacturing Center and routinely graduates approximately 25 percent of the state’s welders. While the System’s role in the state’s manufacturing workforce has been widely documented, it is also developing talent for other economy-driving industries. According to Foy, WTCS has helped deliver tens of thousands of skilled professionals to the culinary arts, hospitality, agriculture, health care and information technology industries. Located in Cleveland, one of Wisconsin’s tourism hotbeds, Lakeshore Technical College has a strong focus on supporting the culinary arts and hospitality. The school has established a state-of-the-art restaurant classroom, where students gain direct experience cooking and creating recipes for actual customers. “The immersion learning in the restaurant provides them with regular opportunities for handson experience, and nothing can substitute for that,” said Rufina Garay, associate dean of culinary and hospitalGARAY ity at Lakeshore Technical College Culinary Institute. Students in the programs run all aspects of the restaurant three days a week, she said, also gaining direct exposure to the business aspects of the restaurant, including customer service, inventory and purchasing. Graduates are in high demand. “Students are learning that they can gain a world-class education and experiences through these programs,” Garay said. And do it without mountains of debt. Cost

A product of BizTimes Media


State technical colleges offer free tuition for eligible students BY ALYSHA SCHERTZ

Students in FVTC’s Agriculture Power Equipment program learn on site during a field test experience. (Fox Valley Technical College)

was one factor Emily Van Haren considered when she enrolled in Madison Area Technical College to pursue her electrical engineering degree. Her intent was to get an associate’s degree, then enroll at University of WisconsinMadison via the college’s credit transfer program, but that didn’t end up being necessary. Today Van Haren works for Apple. The opportunities available via Madison Area Technical College led to the Apple internship and an eventual job offer. Academic programs in science, engineering and mathematics at Madison Area Technical College have earned national recognition and funding for excellence. Similarly, the strength of the programming at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton is increasing the number qualified workers ready to lead the state’s agriculture industry. “We’re fortunate to have a broad-based curriculum,” said Mike Cattelino, associate dean of manufacturing technologies at Fox Valley Technical College. “Our students are the producers of the future, and it’s our job to make sure they have the best opportunity to succeed.” Fox Valley Technical College has almost 30 apprenticeship programs in place for industries like agriculture, horticulture, precision agriculture and even small engine repair. “We partner with local farms and let our students gain valuable hands-on experience doing virtually everything in the facility with the help and assistance of industry professionals,” Cattelino said. The System continues to expand programming to help students of all ages, and the communities where its campuses are located see the continued benefit of a technical education. Said Foy, “That’s great for individuals, but it’s also the future of our economy.”


ithout a doubt, the workforce of the future will require additional skills beyond what a traditional high school education can offer. To meet that need, three Wisconsin Technical College campuses plan to deliver that requirement free of charge to eligible students. Milwaukee Area Technical College, Nicolet Technical College and Madison Area Technical College have each established “Promise” programs that will pay for two years of college tuition and fees for eligible students once federal and state financial aid has been applied, as long as the student maintains full-time status and a satisfactory GPA. With all three programs in their inaugural year, application is currently open to 2016 high school graduates. More than 2,900 high school seniors applied for admission to MATC by the December deadline, compared to just 166 high school seniors who had applied to the school in December 2014. “We are extremely pleased with the interest in the program,” said Vicki Martin, president of Milwaukee Area Technical College. “We are uniquely positioned to train tomorrow’s workforce, and this program will allow more students to consider MATC for their education needs.” According to Martin, a large majority of MATC students only attend part time as they must work to afford tuition. The Promise programs will help alleviate payment concerns for students, who will then be able to

focus on their education full time, she said. To date, the MATC Foundation has raised more than $515,000 to support the program. It has also deferred more than $100,000 in endowment gifts and secured several major gifts from local individuals, alumni and associations, including a $250,000 challenge gift from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. Nicolet Technical College in northern Wisconsin used the MATC program as a model for its own program. “Our community businesses are experiencing many of the same challenges when it comes to workforce training and development, and we wanted to help address those needs,” said Richard Nelson, NTC president. Principals, counselors and teachers in the Technical College districts are excited about the Promise programs, and so are area businesses, Nelson said. “ At a time of changing demographics in the state and the migration of a lot of our young people, we’re hoping that this program and others like it will prompt more growth and development of the skilled workforce here in the state.” Madison Area Technical College has also implemented its Madison Promise program and, according to Martin, Gateway Technical College, Wausau Technical College and Fox Valley Technical College are all exploring the feasibility of launching Promise programs in their home communities. 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




Pres. Barack Obama meets Dr. Greg Harris from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at the grand opening of Chicago’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. Milwaukee-based Rockwell, Johnson Controls and the Milwaukee School of Engineering are all partners in this national institute. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


mong the greatest concerns for employers in Wisconsin is being guaranteed a workforce with skills sufficient to meet the needs of economic growth and technical advancement. While the state historically has been, and continues to be, one of the overall best-educated in the nation, it is also true that the demands of technology have never been greater, nor have those demands ever fallen on so many workers in so many sectors. What’s more, it often is no longer enough simply to have once-upon-a-time earned a diploma, degree or certificate, now highlighted somewhere deep in a resume. The speed at which digital technology has overtaken basic skills has outpaced the resources of many employers to train people on the job. And for the worker who wants to get ahead – or even to land her first “real” job – more edu116


cation may be the only answer. With that in mind, all public institutions of higher learning in Wisconsin, and most private ones, offer a menu of accelerated degree and certificate programs, mainly aimed at adult continuing education. The coursework is taken in the evening or online (or both), and individual classes can be completed in six to seven weeks instead of the usual 16. With so much demand, the curricular offerings expand each year. “This is a huge part of the conversation,” said Chris Layden, managing director of Experis, a division of Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup, the world’s largest staffing corporation. “In order for you to have more relevance, you’re going to have to acquire more soft skills. “But we can’t have curriculum development in a vacuum. It has to be a multi-stake-

holder approach, with business, education and government all involved. “Nursing is quite a model,” Layden said. “A few years ago, we realized we didn’t have nearly enough nurses. It was one of the most in-demand, least in-supply jobs. And in just two or three years, accelerated degree programs were filling the bill.” That isn’t always the case, though. “Another example was welding in metal manufacturing,” L ayden sai d . “What happened was that as soon as traditional trade programs started to get up to speed, there was a shift to digital welding, an automated LAYDEN process with one person doing the job of maybe two or three. “Those are people we can and must upskill, to meet the needs of the fourth Industrial Revolution – the Digital Revolution.” Advances in technology and necessary skills, Layden said, are no longer generational – they now occur multiple times within a generation. “In some cases,” he said, “it’s only two or three years between advances where you may need a new certification – I would say there’s no more than a five-year horizon for the jobs most in demand.” Besides regular Wisconsin institutions, Layden said, national and regional initiatives are contributing. He cited the Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute in Chicago, funded mainly through the federal government but involving Milwaukee-area businesses including Rockwell Automation Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc. and institutions including Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Wisconsin System. “This is a national initiative,” Layden said, “and even the Department of Defense is underwriting it. The opportunity here is really significant.” The University of Wisconsin System of 13 campuses began adopting online course studies only about 10 years ago, said Larry Graves, registrar and director of admissions for University of Wisconsin Colleges. By five years ago, Graves said, demand had grown to the point that more offerings and a more centralized approach were needed. Today, University of Wisconsin Colleges Online

A product of BizTimes Media

offers 35 accelerated degree programs, each based at a particular campus where evening, on-campus classes may be available, but also accessible online to anyone, anywhere. It’s all recently been pared down to seven weeks, where once it paralleled the semester system. “It’s in collaboration with a four-year school,” Graves said. “You can be concurrently enrolled anywhere” while taking courses developed at the host school. “It’s mainly marketed to adults,” Graves said. “It allows them to work while being in the online environment in the evening, and you’re done in seven weeks. It can be very broad-based, because we have mature technology – it’s not in its infancy anymore.” Offline and in-person, University of Wisconsin adult programs span the state from University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Racine to Platteville in the southwest, and from Green Bay to Superior and even tiny Stout in the northwest. In fact, University of WisconsinStout, in Menomonie, is host to five of those 35 system-wide accelerated programs. Concordia University, a private school based in Mequon, focuses more on evening classes, where students get classroom face time with professors rather than screen time with graphics. To accomplish that, Concordia has developed nine satellite campus centers sprinkled across Wisconsin, with one more in St. Louis. Tara Carr is director of Concordia’s Appleton center, but she previously directed the center in Beloit, and works closely with another in Green Bay. She’s seen both ends of the spectrum of continuing education needs. “Appleton is a pretty unique community,” Carr said. “It’s affluent, and most people we serve are already well-educated and have sustaining jobs. A majority of our students are in the master’s of business program. Most of them are focused on getting to that next level. They cannot move on without that degree. “Then I look at Green Bay. Up here, there’s a huge difference between our students (in Appleton) and those just 25 miles away. We have one of the largest graduate programs; they have far more undergraduates.” Concordia’s programs can be completed in just six weeks, and in only one night a week, Carr said. “Almost all of our students are employed full-time,” she said. “About 75 percent are women and, interestingly, the graduatedegree students are slightly younger on average than the undergraduates – 32 to 33 years old for graduate students compared to about 36 for undergraduates.”


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

840 2,096



840 2,189 500

Viterbo University




Wisconsin Lutheran College




Bellin College of Nursing Columbia College of Nursing Herzing University



Milwaukee School of Engineering







Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design









Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology






College of Menominee Nation



Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College




Maranatha Baptist Bible College Nashotah House Sacred Heart School of Theology





Marquette University in Milwaukee will build a state-of-the-art athletic facility in partnership with Aurora Health Care.


hen Marquette University unveiled plans earlier this year to build the state-of-theart Athletic Performance Research Center in partnership with Aurora Health Care, it marked the continuation of a trend among colleges and universities to seek out collaborators for their building and educational projects. For private post-secondary institutions, the need for this kind of collaboration has never been greater as they grapple to offer high quality education at affordable prices. Unlike state-run universities and colleges, private schools do not receive any funding from Wisconsin taxpayers. That makes finding other revenue streams beyond student tuition even more essential. For Marquette, working with Aurora on the new project was a natural fit, said Lora Strigens, chief architect for the Milwaukee university. “We had a unique opportunity to find land to acquire, which is rare when you’re an urban campus,” she said. “This will be a facility like no other, and this is the first partnership of its kind in the nation.” In addition to Marquette and Aurora, the 118


Milwaukee Bucks are also involved. The center is expected to range in size between 250,000 and 300,000 square feet and cost an estimated $120 million, with Aurora investing $40 million and the remainder coming through fundraising initiatives. When complete, it will cover four city blocks and redefine a vacant corridor near the Marquette Interchange. “Our goal is to break ground in 2017 and finish about the same time as the Bucks’ new arena,” Strigens said. “These two projects will help redefine an area of Milwaukee’s downtown.” Marquette president Michael Lovell announced his plan last year to build the center, which will serve as a national destination for scientific research into human performance. With Aurora now a partner,

researchers with the health care system and Marquette can focus on exercise physiology, athletic training, biomedical engineering, nutrition and rehabilitation. “The center will help with faculty recruitment and also serves as a sign of our commitment to the community, since it will have a notable presence,” Strigens said. “Our students and student athletes will also benefit from its health and wellness initiatives.” While Marquette is just beginning this particular collaboration with Aurora, St. Norbert College in De Pere is already reaping the fruits of its partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa. In 2012, the Medical College announced plans to expand its presence in the state by opening two satellite campuses that would

A product of BizTimes Media

allow students to earn their medical degrees in three years instead of four. After viewing different options, college leaders selected the Green Bay and Wausau markets. In Green Bay, the program is mainly housed at the Gehl-Mulva Science Center on the St. Norber t campus. The first medical students arrived on campus last summer. Jeffrey Frick, d e a n of th e college and academic vice president at St. FRICK Norbert, said Green Bay area residents benefit from the partnership. “The community will benefit from having a cadre of well-trained primary care physicians who are likely to remain in the area. One of the driving forces of this approach to medical education is to help supply underserved areas with primary care physicians,” he said. In 2015, the college completed a $39 million renovation and expansion of the GehlMulva Science Center. The 160,000-squarefoot building includes 45 state-of-the-art teaching and research labs, 10 classrooms, one large lecture hall, study rooms for students and faculty offices. “St. Norbert College benefits in a number of ways ( from the partnership). Our undergraduate students have the experience of interacting directly with the students from the Medical College, both informally and in more formal programs that are currently under development,” Frick said. “Some of our science faculty have also had the opportunity to teach in the program. Not only has this given them an inside look at what medical education looks like today, but they have found the experience energizing.” St. Norbert has seen an increase in enrollment of students interested in studying science, Frick said. That is likely related to both the new science space and the partnership with the Medical College. Strigens said Marquette officials are optimistic the new Athletic Performance Research Center will draw more students as well. “We really want to increase our research, and the center focuses on health sciences and engineering, which are our fastest-growing areas.” Marquette and Aurora, which runs the neighboring Sinai Medical Center, have

The Medical College of Wisconsin has partnered with St. Norbert College in DePere to offer threeyear medical degrees.

worked together previously on other initiatives, such as providing student training opportunities and trying to revitalize the area as a residential and business corridor, Strigens said. The involvement of the Milwaukee Bucks came about based on conversations between the team’s owners and Lovell; the final role is still being worked out. Currently, the Bucks and Marquette both play at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Frick said partnerships are necessary in higher education and more are likely to come. “As institutions pay greater attention to cost containment and the recognition that they will not be able to be all things to all people, the idea of forming partnerships to accomplish mutual goals looms large on the horizon,” he said. It took multiple organizations – educational and health-related – to make the Medi-

cal College of Wisconsin campus a reality in northeast Wisconsin, Frick said. Educational partners Bellin College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and clinical partners Bellin Health, the Hospital Sisters Health System Eastern Division, Prevea Health and the U.S. Department for Veteran Affairs Milo C. Huempfner Outpatient Clinic all played a role. St. Norbert already has partnerships in place with other colleges and universities including Marquette, Frick said. The De Pere college has a relationship with Bellin College in Green Bay that allows students to attend St. Norbert for two years and then complete their nursing degree at Bellin, and another one in place with Marquette involving economics. “We are currently exploring partnership opportunities in the areas of law and engineering, and others are likely to materialize in the future,” Frick said. 201 6 WISCONSINBIZ




Private school presidents share their vision for the next half-decade BY MAREDITHE MEYER


oday’s competitive job market and constant technological advancements have higher education


leaders searching for a balance between innovation and an affordable education. Wisconsin’s private colleges and universities annually educate about 55,000 students from

across the country and around the world. Each president has goals for his or her institution centered around a core mission, but all share a common objective – to provide the best possible educational experience. WisconsinBiz asked these leaders about their vision and educational priorities for the next five years.


ALVERNO COLLEGE While more students are completing high school, the percentage attending college is declining. If unchecked, this trend will be a national disaster. Forty-nine of the top 50 highest-paid jobs in the USA require a college degree. We are not meeting the demand for qualified professionals. Alverno is committed to ensuring that students receive access to a quality education. Our vision is to continue to keep our tuition as low as possible and to work tirelessly to reduce or remove the sometimes substantial barriers students face. Our state and country need to address the larger, systemic issues that create barriers to college access. Sufficient and reliable state and federal student aid, simplified processes and early support at the high school and middle school levels are essential to eliminating college attainment gaps. Alverno College recently elected Dr. Andrea Lee, IHM, as its eighth president, effective for the 2016–2017 academic year.


BELOIT COLLEGE Our next five years, like the previous 170, will be dedicated to delivering a high-quality liberal arts experience to our students. Our highest priority is to do this while requiring all students to put that time-tested education into rigorous practice within our com120


munity, their chosen fields, the laboratory and around the world. In addition to this work, our campus and community, students and neighbors, will be engaged in the work of becoming an evermore inclusive, supportive and anti-racist institution. Also essential will be the college’s ongoing work to more fully engage its alumni in preparing the next generation of Beloit College graduates to lead, as our mission states, "lives of purposeful consequence."



CARDINAL STRITCH UNIVERSITY The educational priority at Cardinal Stritch University is to continue to build on a long history of success helping students. Indeed, our mission is to help students to find theirs. Our academic identity is grounded in interdisciplinary, engaged learning, innovative and professional education in the context of our Franciscan values of community, showing compassion, reverencing creation and making peace.



CARROLL UNIVERSITY We recognize the growing need for firstrate health care professionals and will continue to systematically grow our niche in the allied health sciences. Strategic initiatives to support these efforts include building a new,


A product of BizTimes Media

$24 million science center – the first of three phases – opening this fall. As Waukesha’s only four-year campus, we’re well-positioned to better serve the complex workforce demands of the region, and we plan to continue sustained growth at the graduate level.


CARTHAGE COLLEGE The history of higher education in America has wavered between two equally valuable ideals. Liberal education in the humanities and arts is at one end of the continuum, while a degree specifically directed to prepare young people for careers sits at the other end. What is the right path for today and for the next decade of higher education? Broadly educated graduates who have acquired a professional skillset grounded in a liberal education will have the best lives and make the best citizens.


CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY The highest educational priority for the next five years must be to expand access to higher education. Access alone, however, is not enough. We believe that an academically rigorous, values-rich, ethical education from a faith-based perspective will best contribute to the nation’s future. We prioritize access, success, affordability and attainment for a diverse student population. The key to achieving strong outcomes in these areas will require universities to place an unambiguous, vigorous priority on student success above all else.


EDGEWOOD COLLEGE The approach Edgewood College is taking can be summed up in one word: deep. Edgewood College has deep roots in the greater Madison community, in our Dominican Catholic identity and in the foundation of the liberal arts. These culminate in the promise to help students connect learning, beliefs and action. It is our challenge and opportunity to continue to improve the quality of life of our local community, state, nation and world by helping to address the pressing needs our society faces today and tomorrow.




LAKELAND COLLEGE Higher education is in the midst of significant change. Lakeland College is wellpositioned to navigate the new realities of today’s higher education marketplace through our ability to serve an increasingly diverse student population, and to leverage technology and collaborations with businesses. A 2012 Lumina Foundation report says Wisconsin must increase college success for three fast-growing groups: working adults, low-income and first-generation students, and students of color. These are all groups that Lakeland has been serving well for decades. "To serve our students, we have to understand the needs of the businesses that drive our state’s economy. Lakeland is surrounded by world-class companies that provide opportunities for well-educated, motivated people to start or continue building satisfying professional careers right here.



LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY I envision greater emphasis on interdisciplinary connections that provide the skills and knowledge that are essential for successful employment, leadership and citizenship. Our goal is to further enhance the education Lawrence provides by deepening our academic offerings and enabling students to confront core issues relevant in today’s world.



MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY When speaking with the region’s corporate executives, topic number one is the





talent pipeline. Where, they ask, are all of our future employees? Filling the pipeline, I believe, is our most important issue. We must all redouble efforts to prepare area K-12 students for higher education. This must be addressed through a renewed approach that is supplemented by input from the corporations seeking future employees, philanthropic foundations that nurture Milwaukee-area activities and universities that previously waited for 18-year-olds to appear on their doorsteps completely prepared. Universities such as Marquette already have initiatives underway. The challenge is to do more – because more is needed.



MEDICAL COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN We aim to match faculty skills, talents and academic programs with current and projected workforce needs. In health care education, there should be more interprofessional and interdisciplinary patient care and teaching. We should focus on prevention, wellness, the patient experience and high-value, patient-centered care. Institutions should collaborate to create these opportunities rather than going it alone.


MILWAUKEE INSTITUTE OF ART AND DESIGN (MIAD) Educational attainment has always represented a pathway to improving one’s life and that of one’s family, and there are many Milwaukee families in need of that pathway. In the next five years, MIAD will focus on creating pathways for high school students interested in design-related fields by expanding


programs to match the needs of Milwaukee’s growing creative industries. We envision a deepening relationship with area high schools built on accessible, affordable programming tailored to harness the MIAD campus as one robust makerspace. We aim to catalyze our commitment to design thinking, which is woven into the majority of our academic programs. We are also committed to working with creative industries across the state to form pre-professional and professional experiences.


(INTERIM PRESIDENT) MILWAUKEE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING (MSOE) At a time where college-bound students assess the cost/benefit of a college degree, it is important that MSOE continues to provide an exceptional value proposition by offering majors in demand while fostering the development of a broad skill set. Our educational priorities will continue to focus on the needs of industry. Feedback from employers regarding teamwork, communication, integrity and understanding the global perspective guides the general education component of our curricula. MSOE graduates will continue to benefit from high placement rates while receiving an education that provides a lifetime of value in today’s technology-based world.


MOUNT MARY UNIVERSITY I think it is vital that the academic programming offered by higher educational institutions is aligned with and responds to the current and future needs of the greater community. At Mount Mary, just as our academic programs are a response to emerging needs, our graduates are taught the skills to adaptively address these needs as well. We have infused a unique and creative thinking approach in curricular and co-curricular activities throughout the university. Since creativity and innovation are essential qualities in leadership, our goal is to nurture the kind of talent that can fuel the 21st century economic engine and solve the complex challenges of our time.






NORTHLAND COLLEGE Our location in a progressive region on Lake Superior is our greatest asset. Northland

A product of BizTimes Media

College is located in a rural region of northern Wisconsin next to Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and three tribal communities. We are developing and enhancing programs that belong in this place, at this time, that provide the opportunity to tackle the toughest contemporary challenges through applied faculty-student research and innovation, and in partnership with community. Our highest educational priority is to engage students with an integrated liberal arts understanding of the complexity of the world, fuel their critical thinking and build technical skills. This will equip them with professional and entrepreneurial capabilities to live that passion productively throughout their lifetime.


RIPON COLLEGE Making college affordable is the single most important issue in higher education. Colleges and universities must continue to find creative ways to make a four-year degree accessible to students of every economic background. To shift the way we collect revenue while maintaining high quality instruction, updating facilities and ensuring that co-curricular programs and amenities are excellent is not an easy task. Second, we must always be thinking about how we can improve our academic programs. Today’s students want innovative experiences that broaden their horizons and teach them career skills. It’s on us to constantly innovate in how we work with our students to create rewarding college experiences.


SAINT NORBERT’S COLLEGE I believe the single biggest priority for higher education – especially for private colleges like ours – is affordability. How can we ensure that any student who qualifies to be here, and wants to be here, can be here regardless of his or her financial circumstances? That is a tall challenge and must be addressed in multiple ways. A close second is making sure we remain relevant to 21st Century learners. We must take the best of the traditional baccalaureate experience and build on that foundation with the best of today’s innovative teaching techniques. We have to keep demonstrating the direct connection between a grounding in



the liberal arts and humanities and success in contemporary careers.


SILVER LAKE COLLEGE OF THE HOLY FAMILY To better prepare students for a 21st century work environment, Silver Lake College is poised to become America’s first Catholic higher education institution – and the first college in Wisconsin – to adopt the Work College model, starting in fall 2016. Work Colleges integrate work responsibilities – complete with supervisors and evaluations – with community service activities into every student’s education. The model helps make college more affordable for students and, more importantly, helps prepare students for a 21st century work environment. It creates an opportunity while students are in school to build a robust resume using jobs on campus, as well as to leverage partnerships in the community for internships.




WISCONSIN LUTHERAN COLLEGE The highest educational priority for Wisconsin Lutheran College for the next five years is to continue to powerfully equip Christian servant-leaders to positively impact others in their communities, workplaces and families. With more than 75 percent of WLC alumni remaining in the region and contributing to the fabric of our communities, Wisconsin Lutheran College will continue to grow enrollment, especially in the areas of greatest need such as health care, business and education.









Chippewa Falls • Eau Claire • Menomonie Neillsville • River Falls FOX VALLEY TECHNICAL COLLEGE




Burlington • Elkhorn • Kenosha • Racine LAKESHORE TECHNICAL COLLEGE


Cleveland • Manitowoc Plymouth • Sheboygan MADISON AREA TECHNICAL COLLEGE


Fort Atkinson • Madison • Portage Reedsburg • Watertown 7,457

Adams • Marshfield • Stevens Point Wisconsin Rapids 38,049

Mequon • Milwaukee Oak Creek • West Allis MORAINE PARK TECHNICAL COLLEGE


Beaver Dam • Fond du Lac • West Bend NICOLET AREA TECHNICAL COLLEGE




Antigo • Medford • Phillips • Spencer Wausau • Wittenberg NORTHEAST TECHNICAL COLLEGE


Crivitz • Green Bay • Luxemburg Marinette • Niagara • Oconto Shawano • Sturgeon Bay SOUTHWEST TECHNICAL COLLEGE




Black River Falls • Independence • La Crosse Mauston • Sparta • Tomah • Viroqua WISCONSIN INDIANHEAD TECHNICAL COLLEGE 20,251

Ashland • New Richmond Rice Lake • Superior Source: Wisconsin Technical College System, September 2014




2014-2015 TOTAL




UW-Green Bay



























UW-River Falls




UW-Stevens Point
















Baraboo/Sauk County



2014-2015 TOTAL





Fond du Lac













Marshfield/Wood County






Rock County






Washington County



Marathon County

Pewaukee • Waukesha


UW-Eau Claire

Fox Valley 10,614



UW-La Crosse







Online courses



Source: University of Wisconsin System, Office of Policy Analysis and Research A product of BizTimes Media



FivenaProven gnidliuPrinciples B rof selpifor cnirBuilding P nevorPaneviF Engaged eand crofSkilled kroW dWorkforce ellikS dna degagnE s n o i t u l o S e c n a m r o f r eP s s e n i s u B r o f r e t n e C e h t f o n a e D ,r e z t i eW h p e s o J y B — — By Joseph Weitzer, Dean of the Center for Business Performance Solutions



t n e m t s e v n iecent s i h T .reports s s e c o r p indicate g n i d r a o b nthat o e hsome t ot laal tivknowledge si noitisop or esowhose hw ro position egdelwoniskvital la to e m othe s t aonboarding h t e t a c i d n i process. s t r o p e r tThis n e c einvestment e c n a m r oof f r ethe p e emost yolpm successful e e t a r e l e corganizations ca nac -sys ,sthe secsuccessful orp a fo nooperation itarepo lufof sseacprocess, cus eht syss n o i t a zcan i n a gaccelerate r o l u f s s e c cemployee u s t s o m e hperformance t fo snoitistem op eor sehpiece T .ygooflotechnology. nhcet fo eceThese ip ro mpositions et e t a c o land l a d nengagement, a 0 0 2 , 1 $ f o ewhile g a r e vbringing a n a t s e vlongni - g ninvest o l g n i gan n i raverage b e l i h w ,of t n e$1,200 m e g a g nand e d nallocate a e e 30 y o l phours m e h gofu otraining r h t d e z i land a e r development e u l a v m r e t per -trohs srequire esserddaabackup taht naplan lp puthat kcabaddresses a eriuqer shortr e p t n eterm m p ovalue l e v e d realized d n a g n i nthrough i a r t f o s remployee uoh 03 y t i l a u qemployee d n a s e s s eeach c o r p year. d e v o rThese p m i , norganizations oitneter .noititerm snart disruptions mret-gnol dand na slong-term noitpursid transition. mret s n o i t aretention, z i n a g r o e simproved e h T .r a e y processes h c a e e e y o land p m equality ,represent t n e m n o r i vall n e types k r o w dofe hbusinesses c i r n e , t u p t u-osimple a fo nThe oitatidentification nemelpmi dnaand noiimplementation tacifitnedi ehT of eal p m i soutput, - s e s s eenriched n i s u b f o swork e p y t environment, lla tneserper d n a t n and e l a t complex, w e n t i u r c elarge r o t yand t i l i b asmall, d e c n afor-profit h n e -dividndevelopment i yek eseht roprogram f margorpfortnthese empolkey evedindivid-t i f o r penhanced -r o f , l l a m ability s d n a eto g rrecruit al ,xelpm new o c talent d n a and and. nnon-profit. o i t c a f s i t a s In rem addition o t s u c dto e s athe e r ccompani eziminuals im dnwill a htbuild gnertbench s hcnestrength b dliub lliand w slminimize au - a p m oincreased c e h t o t ncustomer o i t i d d a n I satisfaction. .tiforp-non dna ny being more “successful” as a result, .revodisruption nrut ro sndue oitom toorpromotions p ot eud noor itpturnover. ursid ,tluser a sa ”lufsseccus“ erom gnieb yn each has discovered the underlying value e u l a v gEstablish n i y l r e d n u e hperformance t derevocsid sah hcae ecnamrofrep hsilbatsE of this investment. Providetn development empoleved edivorP sdradnats standards . t n e m t s e v n i s i h t f o

edael ruoy rof for seityour inutrleaders oppo ereht ,tEstablishing sBefore e r u s a ecommitting m e c n a m r oto f r eapdollar g n i h samount, i l b a t s E there sropportunities nuoma rallodperformance a ot gnittimmmeasures oc erofeB g n i y l p iare t l u mfive a eproven v a h n aprinciples c g n i n i a r ttoo tensure d e n g i l aa high aligned to training f oDefine d e r i u qthe e r scompetencies e i c n e t e p m o c erequired h t e n i f e Dof hgih a erusne ot selpicnircan p nehave vorp eavmultiplying if era d e g a rreturn u o c n eon e bemployee d l u o h s s etraining e y o l p minvestment. E .tceffe d i l oyour s a eleaders. v a h y e h tEnsure e r u s n Ethey . s r ehave d a e l rau osolid y .tneeffect. mtsevnEmployees i gniniart eeshould yolpmebe noencouraged nruter denrael slliks dna egdelwonk eht esu ot to use the knowledge and skills learned - i c n i runderstanding p p i h s r e d a e l e rof o ccore f o g nleadership i d n a t s r e d nprinciu t u o h t iStart W . o d ywith e h t k r othe w e hstrategic t o t e u l a v dplan da ot r u o y oples t n g iand l a t ahave h t s e dattitudes u t i t t a e v athat h d nalign a s e lto p your ntoaadd lp cvalue igetato rtstheehwork t htthey iw tdo. ratWithout S e h t Your ,y t i l i bstrategic a t n u o c c aplan d n a should n o i t a t cextend e p x e e hbeyond t the expectation and accountability, r i e h t norganization’s i t s e v n i n e h T . svalues. e u l a v sThen ’ n o i t ainvest z i n a g r oin their d n o y e b d n e t x e d l u o h s n a l p c i g e t a r t s r u oY the . t s ovalue l e b oproposition t y l e k i l s i t nand e m t skey e v nobjectives. i gniniart f o continued h t a p a h t i wdevelopment t n e m p o l e v e dwith d e uan ipath t n o c of . straining e v i t c e j b oinvestment y e k d n a n oisi t ilikely s o p o r ptoebe u l alost. v i l i b i increased s n o p s e r d n experiences a s e c n e i r e p x and e d e responsibilis a e r c n i It should consider the organization’s s’ n o i t a z i n a g r o e h t r e d i s n o c d l u o h s t I g n i k aties m - nthat o i s i cdevelops e d r i e h t stheir p o l e vdecision-making ed taht seit s s e n i s u Btorachieve o f e c r uand o s e Rsustain l a t iV sucA capability - c uAs Vital n i a t s uResource s d n a e v e i hfor c a oBusiness t ytilibapac d e skills. c n a h n e Leadership e r a s l l i k s p skills i h s r e are d a e L enhanced . s l l i k s - t a rEnsure t s e t a r eyou b i l ehave d e b the d l u oright h s e rtraining e h T . s s eand c d ncess. a g ni nThere ia rt t hshould gir e ht ebev adeliberate h u o y er u s nstratE i e l o r mentors e v i t c a n aplay y a l pans ractive o t n e m role nehw in the t a h t approach t n e m e g a nto a machieve t n e l a t nyour o d ebusiness s u c o f y g eresults st lu seegy r ssefocused nis u b r uon o y etalent v e i h c amanagement ot h c a or p p a that e h t nwhen g n o r t transformative s a t u o h t i W . s s eprocess. c o r p e v i tWithout a m r o f s na rstrong t e v i t a l eby r s epartnering r u s a e m d nwith a s ethe v i t cCenter e j b o s efor d u lcBusiness ni s s enisincludes uB rof retobjectives neC e ht h t iand w g nmeasures ir e ntr a p y brelative l l i w foundation, n o i t o m o r p e a r u premature t a m e r p a , promotion n o i t a d n u o f will - l ePerformance v e d d n a g n i dSolutions. r a o b n o , t nWith e m t i uour r c ecommitr ot -t immtoocrecruitment, r uo htiW .s nonboarding o it u l o S e c n aand mr ofdevelr eP s’ r eonly d a e lundermine w e n a e n i marnew e d n uleader’s y l n o t o nconfi-, e z i s ment e t a u qto e daligning a n i f o e cbusiness r o f k r o w Asolutions . t n e m p oto your ru oy otopment. s noit ulosA sworkforce se n i s u b g nofi n ginadequate i l a ot t n e m size,- i f n o cnot n o t c e f dence, f e l a t n e it m can i r t e d have a e v a a h detrimental n a c t i , e c neffect ed on e hstrategic t e n i m r e dobjectives, n u l l i w y t i lyou i b a can r o y trest i c a passured ac d eruscapacity sa tse r naorc uability o y , s ewill v it c eundermine j b o c i g e t artthe s the whole organization. .noitazinagro elohw eht s t i that r e p minvestment a h d n a y t i lin i b ayour t s s’ nteam o i t a zwill i n a gresult r o in n i t l usorganization’s e r lliw maet r ustability o y n i t n eand m t s ehamper v n i t a ht its e c c u s dmotivated n a w o r g o tand y t i lengaged iba d eg a gability ne d natodegrow t avit oand m , dsucceed. elliks a gnidliub building. daeskilled, Implement eeyolpman e nemployee a tnemelpmI l aci n hcet mo rF .w orr o m ot r of e cr o f kr o w workforce for tomorrow. From technical Incorporate a succession strategy rts nand oissfundamentals eccus a etatoroleadership procnI development n a l p plan t nempoleved ygetaskills pihsredael ot slatnemadnuf dna slliks dnoyeb sdnetxand e gnexecutive innalp noicoaching, sseccuS e e y o l porganizations m e w e i v s n o i tview a z i n aemployee g r o t a e r G devel-eht development , gSuccession ni hcaoc eviplanning t uc e x e d nextends a t n e m pbeyond o l e v e d the- l e v e d Great of- e t a r topment fo rebm yna edsolutions ulcnI .etiuto s-Cyour eht company’s fo level s e h t f oas t r aan p l integral a r g e t n i npart a s aoft nthe e m pstrateo s’y nlevel a pmoofc the r uoyC-suite. o t s n o iInclude t u l o s e dany i v ormember p ew weemprovide noitutiunique tsni yekchallenges sdloh ohw innotalent itazinamanagement. gro ruoy g n i r ugic d s nplan i g e band tnem development p o l e v e d d n abegins n a l p c iduring g .tn emyour e g a norganization am t nelat n i who s e g nholds e l l a h ckey e u qinstitution inu

, m a e tFor r u omore y f o einformation c n a m r o f r e p on e h toptimizing g n i z i m i t p othe n o performance n o i t a m r o f n i eof rom your r o Fteam, . u d e . ccontact t c w @ o fCBPS n i . s p bat c r262-695-7828 o 8 2 8 7 - 5 9 6 - 2 6or 2 a SPBC tcatnoc

wisconsin's technical colleges

We are futuremakers






Providing skills

EMPLOYERS NEED Wisconsin's Technical Colleges are delivering the state’s next generation of workers. Guided by instructors with industry expertise and academic achievements, graduates arrive with the specialized skills you seek, and the soft skills that position them for career growth and success. The technical colleges provide unrivaled services beyond job-ready employees; our free, exclusive recruiting service, TechConnect, connects students and graduates to your job openings and desired qualifications. We also offer employer solutions with the hallmarks of our flexible customized training.

“The technical colleges really focus on specific skills people need to be successful in whatever career path they choose.” Julie Connelly, Department Supervisor, Logistics Health, Inc.

“The technical colleges have invested not only in curriculum but in the actual machines. That enables employees to start with us very quickly and move into a career progression.” Eric Reisner, Vice President & General Manager Global Products Services, Rexnord

Visit to learn more about our services.

It’s never too early to get involved.

It’sIt’snever nevertootooearly earlytotogetgetinvolved. involved. Everything Everything Everything you need to you youneed need to to know about know knowabout babout izness doing doing bizbness izness indoing Wisconsin

in–inWisconsin all inWisconsin one place.

– all–inallone in one place. place.



WeWe trust you’ve found to aa valuable resource andencourage encourage you to a a trust We you’ve trust you’ve foundthis found thispublication publication this publication to be beto valuable be a valuable resource resource and and encourage you toyou bebe to a be part of of the 2017 We to continuing ourmission mission fostering economic part part the of2017 theedition. 2017 edition. edition. Welook look Weforward forward look forward continuing to continuing our our mission ofoffostering of fostering economic economic development and ininWisconsin. development development andgrowth growth and growth Wisconsin. in Wisconsin.

advertising For advertising andsponsorship and sponsorship sponsorship opportunities opportunities contact contact ForFor advertising and opportunities contact Media Media Sales Sales 414.336.7112 at 414.336.7112 or or Media Sales atat414.336.7112 or



The Legendary Fan Cave Where Family Fun Is Still Affordable Air Hockey Arcade Artwork Bar Stools Bobbleheads Foosball Lighting Patio Furniture Ping Pong Pool Tables Shuffleboard Sports Memorabilia

Two convenient locations: WAUKESHA GLENDALE

1005 Spring City Drive

Bayshore Town Center

(262) 521-8004

(414) 963-1822 WWW.MASTERZS.COM

You want to be here

You are here

The Manufacturing Specialists at the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership can help you set and follow the best course to your future. This may include: strategies for growth, lowering costs, improving efficiency and responsiveness, workforce engagement, and obtaining certifications.

Call Jim Sullivan today to schedule a free consultation to explore where you want to go and how the WMEP can help you get there. 608.354.1346 or email:

For more information, please visit:

WisconsinBiz 2016  
WisconsinBiz 2016