WEDA Academy Update: Kathy Heady, Academy Manager

It was great to reconnect with my economic development friends at the Best Practices Conference and Academy programs in La Crosse at the end of September.  The weather was spectacular, and the conference and programs were informative and engaging.  I enjoy learning about initiatives underway to address the many challenges that our communities are facing.

A big thank you goes out to our presenters for the September 28 Academy program – Best Practices in Workforce Attraction –  which included Rebecca Deschane, Vice President, Talent Development at New North Inc.; Scott Hodek, Section Chief, Office of Economic Advisors, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development; Steven Janke, Founder and CEO, Mission Wisconsin; Scott Champion, Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy, WEDC; Tasha Jenkins, Director, Bureau of Job Service and Becky Kikkert, Director, Office of Special Initiatives with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development; and, Beth Franklin, Community Concierge and Neal Zygarlicke, CEO at the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.

The program provided a broad look at workforce attraction, including using data to support efforts, targeted attraction opportunities, and an in-depth look at successful talent attraction initiatives developed by the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.

On November 2, the Academy will host its final webinar for 2022 – Basics of Tax Increment FinancingSean Lentz, CIPMA, Senior Municipal Advisor, and Josh Low, Senior Finance Specialist, Ehlers, Inc. will serve as instructors for this program.  This course will provide a foundational understanding of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) based upon current program rules and best practices.  After completing this course, participants should have an understanding of what TIF is, how it can benefit their communities, and how they can start to use this important local economic development tool.  If you are new to Tax Increment Financing (TIF), have board members or local officials that would benefit from an introduction to the fundamentals or if you need a refresher on current requirements, I encourage you to register. Registration will be available shortly on the WEDA website.

Planning is starting for the slate of 2023 Academy programs. We want to make sure that WEDA is meeting your educational needs.  I encourage you to reach out to me at if you have any program ideas, topic suggestions or if you are interested in serving as an instructor.