Transitions and New Beginnings
Considering that this will be the last blog that I write as the chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin International Practice Section, it seemed appropriate to start by thanking the section for the opportunity to serve in this position over the past two years.
I give special thanks to my amazing board members for their engaged, excited, and dedicated service to this section. Thank you. It’s been a privilege to serve as your board chair.
And I welcome Betty Eberle, the incoming chair. Having served with Betty over the last few years, I know that she has the talent, energy, and leadership to be an amazing board chair! Thank you, Betty! You will be great!
This transition from International Practice chair is just one of many personal transitions over the past few months. In May, I transitioned from private practice and accepted a role as chief legal counsel and compliance officer for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
It is an exciting transition into an organization that I believe in whole-heartedly, which is why I’ve decided to dedicate my final blog entry to share about the WEDC’s mission.
About the WEDC
The WEDC leads economic development efforts for Wisconsin by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities, and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. It provides resources, operational support, and financial assistance to companies, partners, and communities throughout the state.
The WEDC is an important resource for lawyers because it can provide your clients with financial and technical support that can help accelerate their success.
The WEDC’s tailored business development services are designed to help Wisconsin companies at every stage of their development.
Early-stage companies can benefit from our Qualified New Business Venture tax credit program, which provides a 25 percent state tax credit for individuals who invest in qualified startups, and our Technology Development Loan program, aimed at companies that provide high-tech or innovative solutions with national or global market potential.
Growth-oriented companies around the state are eager to expand their facilities, hire more employees, and add new equipment in order to take advantage of market opportunities, and it is not uncommon for such companies to consider alternative locations for their operational expansion projects.
The WEDC works with those companies to help them meet their growth objectives in Wisconsin, ensuring that jobs not only stay here in Wisconsin but also that new jobs and new capital investments occur that benefit the state’s economy.
The WEDC also helps Wisconsin companies fulfill their growth potential by developing export strategies. From trade ventures around the world to intensive training through our ExporTech Program, the WEDC provides the tools, resources, connections, and on-the-ground contacts necessary for Wisconsin companies to build and execute successful targeted international growth strategies.
Vibrant communities that offer equal opportunities to Wisconsin’s diverse populations are critical to the state’s economy, which is why the WEDC makes strategic investments in community development projects designed to establish a firm foundation for the economic growth of an area.
The WEDC’s community development programs are designed to leverage a community’s existing assets or to overcome challenges a community faces in attracting and retaining businesses and the workforce necessary to support them. Environmental contamination, vacant industrial sites, and blight are some of the issues our community development investments help address in order to remove the barriers a municipality faces in pursuing new business development activities.
The WEDC’s Main Street and Connect Communities programs, Community Development Investment Grant Program and Historic Preservation Tax Credit also help communities enhance the aesthetic appeal of their business districts and deliver on quality-of-life measures necessary to develop strong business activity.
Building Wisconsin’s Industry Leadership
The WEDC works with key partners in the state’s leading industries to extend Wisconsin’s competitive advantage in addressing global challenges.
Our public-private model includes investments in “centers of excellence,” such as the Global Water Center in Milwaukee, to spur research and development, support startup formation and growth, advance product commercialization, and attract new business investments.
The WEDC has provided seed funding to the Energy Innovation Center in Milwaukee and Starting Block, a software engineering and cybersecurity center of excellence in Madison. We have plans for additional centers of excellence in the aerospace and aviation, advanced composites, and food and beverage fields.
Developing a Talent Pipeline
Wisconsin is faced with the challenge of filling current job openings, and the need for workers will outpace the state’s population growth between now and 2030.
To address that challenge, there is an urgent need to enhance and expand perceptions regarding the career and personal fulfillment opportunities that Wisconsin offers. The WEDC and partners throughout Wisconsin have developed a unified marketing strategy to promote opportunities our state offers for career and personal fulfillment: Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin.
We are also collaborating with young professional organizations throughout the state to develop ways to attract and retain young talent in Wisconsin through efforts such as YPWeek, which taps and channels the passion Wisconsin’s young professionals bring to the workplace to build and sustain Wisconsin’s strong workforce.
Forging Strong, Diverse Partnerships
We understand there are organizations on the ground that are often closer to the businesses in their community than we are, which is why we work closely with more than 600 economic development partners throughout Wisconsin to ensure that all appropriate resources are made available to companies and communities seeking to maximize their potential.
Our partners include local and county governments; regional planning commissions; workforce organizations; educational institutions; industry and trade groups; and local, county and regional economic development organizations.
For more information, see the WEDC’s website, inwisconsin.com.