WEDA Academy Update: Kathy Heady, Academy Manager

Summer is a great time to explore the wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities that Wisconsin has to offer. In my travels, I like to spend time in nearby communities supporting local businesses, exploring festivals and events, and having a great meal and locally brewed beer. 

Many of our Wisconsin communities continue working hard to build strong connections between people and the places where they live and work. At the WEDA Academy webinar on August 3 – Placemaking: Creating Your Quality Place – our instructors Anne Katz, Director, Create Wisconsin and Melinda Childs, Community Cultural Development Director, Artstart provided an excellent introduction to Placemaking.  As they demonstrated, these efforts can provide a foundation for building vibrant communities with a strong quality of life – enhancing efforts to successfully attract and retain businesses, talent, and residents.

Looking forward, the Academy will be holding a comprehensive program – Best Practices in Workforce Attraction on September 28 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. just prior to the WEDA Best Practices Conference in La Crosse. As we know, the shortage of workers to fill available jobs continues to be a high priority issue in communities across Wisconsin. Increasingly, economic developers have been looking to add talent attraction to their local and regional workforce development strategies to help address the limited workforce supply. In this workshop, essential components of workforce attraction will be introduced including using data to support and develop initiatives.

More specifically, targeted attraction opportunities – focusing on out-of-state recruitment, transitioning military service members and justice involved individuals – will be explored. The program will also include an in-depth look at successful talent attraction initiatives developed by the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.

Confirmed speakers include 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.  Registration should be available shortly at

On November 2, the Academy will host its final webinar for 2022 – TIF Fundamentals.  Seth Hudson, Director of Economic and Strategic Development, Cedar Corporation and Sean Lenz, Senior Municipal Advisor, Ehlers, Inc. will serve as instructors for this program.

I hope that you will be able to join us for one or more of these exciting and affordable educational opportunities. As a reminder, be sure to look for approved credits/points for continuing education/recertification on the course registration webpage. Please reach out to me at if you have any program ideas, topic suggestions, or if you are interested in serving as an instructor.