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It’s time for a WISconversation

Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce supports The Future Wisconsin ProjectEconomic-Summit-7-feathered

Don’t miss this chance to influence the direction of Wisconsin and show that the Fox Cities is passionate about our future! The Fox Cities Chamber is organizing a Fox Cities Table for the event, and we’d love to have you join us. Please register here, then let us know you’ll be joining our table by emailing Linda Myers at lmyers@foxcitieschamber.com so we can count you in!

The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce is joining with the State Chamber of Commerce and five other state organizations to embark on a 20-year strategic economic plan for the state.  The Future Wisconsin Project is designed to make the Badger State the most competitive state in the nation

Why is this project necessary? Twenty years ago, there was no iPad or WiFi.  There were no social media directors or cloud computing services.  And words like blog, Google, millennial, and staycation didn’t exist.

Baby Boomers were not turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day.  The number of incoming kindergartners still exceeded the number of graduating 12th graders in Wisconsin.  The unemployment rate was holding steady at 4.5%.  And troubling demographics and Wisconsin’s business competitiveness were not front page news.

However, what if . . .

. . . 20 years ago, when we knew there was a severe labor shortage coming . . . and we did know . . . we had put a plan in place to address it?

. . . 20 years ago, we had branded the state . . . not as cheeseheads from the frozen tundra but as entrepreneurs from the state of innovation . . . as an attractive place for the next generation?

. . . 20 years ago, everyone . . . Republicans and Democrats alike . . . had agreed on a set of measures and goals that would ensure Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness?

. . . 20  years ago, we had established an academic and career plan, and work experiences . . . for every student . . . to guide them and their parents in selecting a meaningful career track?

. . . today, we decided not to let history repeat itself?

A Georgetown University study suggests Wisconsin will add 317,000 jobs this decade.  The Applied Population Lab at UW-Madison says we will add 15,000 working age people between now and 2030.Since 1997, the number of kindergartners has not been replacing our graduating seniors.Wisconsin will double its 65-year-old and older population in the next 25 years, from 750,000 to 1.5 million.

Do you see the problem yet?

  • How about our loss of college graduates every year?  14,000.
  • How about the economic uncertainty caused by political swings in the past 10 years?
  • How about the skills gap we have seen throughout Wisconsin as students pursue degrees that do not lead to careers, while jobs go wanting skilled applicants?

Now, are you ready for the good news?  We can overcome all of these challenges.  That’s why we are participating in The Future Wisconsin Project. And we want YOU to participate, too!

To ensure prosperity for the communities of Wisconsin, and rewarding and high-paying careers for our citizens, the Badger State must be positioned as a leader in the following areas:

  • Talent Development, Attraction and Retention
  • Business Competitiveness
  • Global Engagement
  • Government Effectiveness
  • Life Quality
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit

These six areas are known as the Competitive Quality Indicators (CQIs) – areas of focus that are critical if Wisconsin is to be a competitive place to do business 20 years from now.  With the cooperation of the University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Economic Development Cooperation, the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Department of Workforce Development, as well as our long-time partners among local chambers of commerce, we are positioned to effectively plan for the future.

More than a year in the making, the project has seen Wisconsin businesses, educators, and leaders begin the discussion of ensuring a competitive state.  Advisors with expertise in the six focus areas have been identified to react to ideas generated by hundreds of Wisconsin citizens.  And a culminating event has been planned for December 3 in Milwaukee to organize and prioritize the initiatives we will take forward together.  This process will be repeated every year to ensure Wisconsin’s competitiveness.

This year, the WMC Foundation has presented to business and educators at all 16 technical college campuses reaching nearly 1,000 people; written guest columns and done media appearances; engaged the local chambers of commerce; identified advisors for each of the six critical areas; and finalized a game plan through the end of the year.  We are excited about The Future Wisconsin Project because it will bring with it the power of the state’s business community, higher education, economic development, public and private sector, and an estimated 3,000 Wisconsin citizens.

Though there are barriers to overcome such as increasing venture capital, filling the skills gap, infrastructure problems, a state image problem, issues in some urban communities, and obstacles for growing jobs and the economy, we have great strengths.  The Badger State boasts business diversity, a strong work ethic, a high quality of life, great business and education partnerships, good schools, an improving business climate, and a “can do” attitude.

Whether you are Democrat, Republican or Independent, whether your party is in the majority or the minority, we must define and measure business competitiveness and strive to make Wisconsin irresistible to employers and employees alike.  It starts by having a WISconversation.

Join us at the event on December 3 to include your voice!



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