Farrow to outline Waukesha Co. economic growth strategy

County exec calls for new economic development agency

FarrowPortrait 258

Farrow

Waukesha County leaders hope to form an economic development organization by the third quarter of 2016 as part of a larger business growth strategy being led by county executive Paul Farrow.

Farrow is scheduled to outline the strategy in a presentation to the county board tonight. He will be joined by a number of business leaders, including Mike Mooney, chairman of MLG Capital; Bart Adams, a partner at Sikich LLP; Tom Fotsch, chief operating officer at EmbedTek; and Laura Catherman, president of the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington County Workforce Development Board.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. in room C350 of the Waukesha County Courthouse, 515 W. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha.

The plan – which covers 2016 to 2018 – calls for four strategic outcomes including a central point of contact for businesses looking to expand or relocate to the county, a business outreach strategy to identify needs of those businesses, a strategy to identify workforce needs in the county and connect to available resources, and a strategy to develop a collaborative fund to increase financial tools available to county businesses and sustain the economic development organization.

The plan also calls for increasing financial contributions from municipalities to the new economic development entity and helping those communities market their available industrial park space.

The plans says the county had at least 125 vacant parcels in industrial parks as of April 2015, plus all of a few other developments including the Pabst Farms business park in Oconomowoc. There were also over 1,600 acres of proposed or under construction business parks throughout the county.

Waukesha County’s previous economic development entity ceased to exist in the fall of 2014 and so after he was elected in April 2015, Farrow called for the formation of a workgroup to address development. The group included representatives from government, business and non-profits.

One of the first steps was a business survey that found 84 percent of companies planned to add employees over the next three years.

The work group also relied on a study by the University of Wisconsin – Extension Center for Community and Economic Development that compared Waukesha to 18 other counties in the United States.

The findings concluded that Waukesha has an aging population and slower population growth than comparable counties. There is also a great deal of employment exchange taking place to and from Milwaukee County.

The aging population was particularly prevalent in manufacturing where 11,333 employers were over the age of 55 in the second quarter of 2014.

“Waukesha County will need to align, retain, and recruit a younger workforce to fill positions left vacant by retiring baby boomers,” Farrow’s strategy report says.

With an average annual wage of $49,057 in 2013, the county was above the state average of $43,792. This trend held true across a number of industries. The county was only below average in public administration and leisure and hospitality.

The county’s business growth in recent years has largely come through business expansion and there has been limited success in creating jobs through startups. The county also has a higher share of growth coming from relocations compared to other counties.

The report calls for considering a strategy focused on helping startups and stage one companies move to stage two and stage two companies expand to be stage three business.

 

FarrowPortrait 258

Farrow

Waukesha County leaders hope to form an economic development organization by the third quarter of 2016 as part of a larger business growth strategy being led by county executive Paul Farrow.

Farrow is scheduled to outline the strategy in a presentation to the county board tonight. He will be joined by a number of business leaders, including Mike Mooney, chairman of MLG Capital; Bart Adams, a partner at Sikich LLP; Tom Fotsch, chief operating officer at EmbedTek; and Laura Catherman, president of the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington County Workforce Development Board.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. in room C350 of the Waukesha County Courthouse, 515 W. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha.

The plan – which covers 2016 to 2018 – calls for four strategic outcomes including a central point of contact for businesses looking to expand or relocate to the county, a business outreach strategy to identify needs of those businesses, a strategy to identify workforce needs in the county and connect to available resources, and a strategy to develop a collaborative fund to increase financial tools available to county businesses and sustain the economic development organization.

The plan also calls for increasing financial contributions from municipalities to the new economic development entity and helping those communities market their available industrial park space.

The plans says the county had at least 125 vacant parcels in industrial parks as of April 2015, plus all of a few other developments including the Pabst Farms business park in Oconomowoc. There were also over 1,600 acres of proposed or under construction business parks throughout the county.

Waukesha County’s previous economic development entity ceased to exist in the fall of 2014 and so after he was elected in April 2015, Farrow called for the formation of a workgroup to address development. The group included representatives from government, business and non-profits.

One of the first steps was a business survey that found 84 percent of companies planned to add employees over the next three years.

The work group also relied on a study by the University of Wisconsin – Extension Center for Community and Economic Development that compared Waukesha to 18 other counties in the United States.

The findings concluded that Waukesha has an aging population and slower population growth than comparable counties. There is also a great deal of employment exchange taking place to and from Milwaukee County.

The aging population was particularly prevalent in manufacturing where 11,333 employers were over the age of 55 in the second quarter of 2014.

“Waukesha County will need to align, retain, and recruit a younger workforce to fill positions left vacant by retiring baby boomers,” Farrow’s strategy report says.

With an average annual wage of $49,057 in 2013, the county was above the state average of $43,792. This trend held true across a number of industries. The county was only below average in public administration and leisure and hospitality.

The county’s business growth in recent years has largely come through business expansion and there has been limited success in creating jobs through startups. The county also has a higher share of growth coming from relocations compared to other counties.

The report calls for considering a strategy focused on helping startups and stage one companies move to stage two and stage two companies expand to be stage three business.

 

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