New North

Diversification and collaboration are the themes for 2016

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

New 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.

Case New Holland

Case New Holland

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 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.”

Broadwind Towers

Broadwind Towers

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 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.”

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