May 31, 2018

In This Edition…

• President’s Message
• WEDC Bulletin
• WBD Support Kick Starts WEDA’s CRA Network of Wisconsin Program
• Guest Column: Setting PACE in Wisconsin (WI Counties Association)
• Guest Column: Talent and Opportunity Meet In-person and Online (DWD)
• WEDA’s New Toolbox Newsletter Provides Overview of Economic Development Tools
• WEDA Legislative Spotlight
• WEDI Update: Economic Development News and Views
• Message from WHEDA: New Markets Tax Credits Pipeline Projects
• Welcome New WEDA Members


President’s Message: Heather Wessling

Great News! As president of WEDA, I’m excited to tell you about a new WEDA program, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Network of Wisconsin, which was made possible through our partnership with WBD, Inc. The CRA Network is a statewide effort to match CRA eligible projects with potential funders to help drive investment across Wisconsin. The program is modeled after a successful program operated by the Kansas City Federal Reserve, which has helped place over $30 million in CRA eligible activities since 2011.

I also want to highlight WEDA’s Community and Economic Development Awards (CEDA), which celebrates exciting economic and community development projects and recognizes the efforts of businesses and organizations that are making their community a better place to live, work and do business. Luckily, it’s not too late to nominate an innovative project or forward-thinking organization in your community for a CEDA. Nominations close on June 8. The CEDA Awards event will be held on September 12 at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison, WI.

Thank you for your time, and please let us know if you’d like to contribute to the WEDA mission or have feedback to share. Talk soon…


WEDC Bulletin

An economic development update from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation


Foxconn, Kwik Trip projects receive national recognition
Foxconn’s historic investment in Racine County and Kwik Trip’s major expansion in La Crosse have received national recognition for economic development success in Trade & Development magazine’s 13th annual CiCi Awards. The magazine editors at the national trade publication evaluated several hundred announcements from across the U.S. before selecting the 30 winners of its 2017 Corporate Investment & Community Impact Awards. These awards recognize corporate locations and investments, with a focus on both the company investing in the community and the economic developers responsible for securing that investment.

The Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion advanced manufacturing campus in Racine County was the largest project receiving an award. The 32-million-square-foot Foxconn campus will employ as many as 13,000 people and is by far the largest economic development project in Wisconsin history. Once the facility is up and running, it will produce nearly 7 million high-definition LCD panels a year.

Kwik Trip was also recognized for its plans to undertake a $300 million capital investment project in La Crosse that will enable the growing company to meet its capacity needs for the foreseeable future. Kwik Trip currently owns and operates 600 retail convenience stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Kwik Trip is going to invest $113 million in a new 200,000-square-foot bread-and-bun production facility, and make multimillion-dollar expansions and improvements in its dairy manufacturing facility, kitchen operations and transportation fleet.


Three companies win 2018 Governor’s Export Achievement Awards
Governor Scott Walker presented Carnivore Meat Co. of Green Bay, Gehl Foods of Germantown and Optimum Vehicle Logistics of Milwaukee with the 2018 Governor’s Export Achievement Award on May 9 in recognition of their success in global business development.

The awards honor businesses that have achieved significant growth or implemented innovative strategies in exporting. Nominees were evaluated on measurable export growth, innovation and contributions to the state’s overall economy, and trade development.


22 Wisconsin school districts awarded Fab Lab grants
On May 1, Governor Scott Walker and WEDC announced that 22 school districts throughout the state have been awarded a total of more than $500,000 in grants to establish or expand local fabrication laboratory (fab lab) facilities.

A Fab Lab is a high-technology workshop equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers, and plasma cutters. Through its Fab Lab Grant Program, WEDC is supporting the purchase of Fab Lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior high, or high school students.

“Over the last three years, WEDC has invested $1.6 million to provide 43 districts across the state the type of equipment needed to help students master the skills that are in high demand in the job market, including manufacturing, technology, and engineering,” said WEDC Secretary Mark R. Hogan. “This program will better prepare students for the life after high school – whether they’re heading straight into the workforce, going to a technical college or attending a four-year university.”


Three new Wisconsin Certified Sites designated
Wisconsin’s Certified Sites portfolio recently welcomed three new locations to the growing list of properties taking advantage of WEDC’s Certified in Wisconsin© Program, which certifies properties as development-ready. The properties in Eagle River, Wausau and Sparta have gained designation as Certified Sites, giving site selectors and business owners the confidence that projects on these properties will be able to move ahead without delays. For a property to gain designation as a Certified Site, critical site attributes like price, availability of utilities, transportation options and environmental standing are closely reviewed.

The Sparta site is a 114-acre portion of South Pointe Business Park zoned for manufacturing. Wausau’s site is 41 acres zoned for industrial uses, including manufacturing and assembly operations, general fabricating and processing, and research laboratories and facilities. Meanwhile, Eagle River’s 21-acre site aims to attract corporate development projects.
Since the program started in 2013, nearly $400 million in capital investment has taken place on Wisconsin’s 21 Certified Sites, creating an estimated 2,300 jobs.


YPWeek’s continued growth captures young professionals’ enthusiasm for Wisconsin
As Wisconsin’s economy continues to improve and the state’s unemployment rate drops to record-low levels, companies in all industries across the state are becoming increasingly concerned about being able to hire and retain qualified workers to accommodate their plans for growth. Wisconsin’s regions have realized that an approach of collaboration, rather than competition, among communities will better help each region, and the state as a whole, attract the skilled and talented workers that are needed to ensure the continued strength of Wisconsin’s economy. One initiative that embodies this collaborative spirit is YPWeek, a week-long series of events for young professionals around the state.

Begun in Milwaukee in 2012, with WEDC’s support YPWeek has expanded to a coordinated statewide initiative with events in 28 communities across Wisconsin. This initiative has grown beyond a single week in April, and has evolved into a peer network with engagement throughout the year. The YPWeek model has become a national model copied in other places, and in 2016 won an award from the International Economic Development Council. In a new element added this year, excursions were added outside of YPWeek to encourage young people to discover other communities around the state, in addition to active participation in events within their own communities during YPWeek itself.


WEDC talent marketing targets Wisconsin alumni
Wisconsin is well known for its talented workforce and the strong work ethic of its people. Maintaining this competitive advantage requires us not only to retain the young people born and educated in our state, but also to attract individuals from other markets whose skills and interests align with Wisconsin’s career and lifestyle attributes. WEDC recently launched a talent attraction initiative aimed at millennials in Chicago, and will soon be expanding the reach of this campaign to include other metro areas throughout the Midwest. Another critical audience for WEDC’s talent marketing strategy is alumni of our colleges and universities—a group that is now being encouraged, through targeted social media ads, to pursue their passions in Wisconsin.

In addition to display advertisements running in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s alumni publications and web-based media that invite the school’s graduates to “come home” to all that Wisconsin offers, WEDC is running a series of “alumni snapshots” on Facebook and Instagram nationally. These social media ads link to videos that feature the perspectives of young people who have studied in Wisconsin and landed their dream jobs here, either right out of school or after leaving the state and deciding to return.


WBD Support Kick Stats WEDA’s New CRA Network Program

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Network of Wisconsin, a new WEDA program, has officially launched, thanks to the generous financial support of long-time WEDA member WBD, Inc. (formerly Wisconsin Business Development). WBD has made a three-year, $75,000 per year commitment to jump start CRA Network operations.

Adopted in 1977, the CRA encourages banks to meet the credit needs of its entire community, including low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Unfortunately, banks often struggle identifying opportunities to invest in CRA type projects, and they often carry more risk than a bank is willing to accommodate. The goal of the CRA Network is to identify potential projects and foster collaboration between banking and economic development partners on how to finance identified projects.

“WBD’s strong support at the launch of the CRA Network demonstrates the potential power of this collaboration model. The impact of their generous financial support, strong connection to bankers across Wisconsin and a shared mission for economic growth and job creation cannot be understated. We are very thankful to have them as a partner,” said WEDA Executive Director Brian Doudna.

For financial institutions, the CRA Network creates a match making tool to help member financial institutions collaborate locally and statewide on Community Reinvestment Act eligible opportunities and strategies. For community, workforce, housing and economic development professionals and volunteers, the CRA Network delivers access to experts who can provide counsel and technical assistance on applicable projects after submission and review of an application. The program is modeled after a successful program operated by the Kansas City Federal Reserve called Investment Connection. Since 2011, the Investment Connection program has assisted in placement of over $30 million in CRA eligible activities.

The first regional meeting of the CRA Network will be held on June 5th in Eau Claire, bringing together banks and community development professionals to learn more about the network and discuss potential opportunities to partner on local projects. In fact, the meeting will include consideration of a real project looking for support in Ashland, WI.

“I am very encouraged that at the very first regional meeting on June 5th, there will already be a real project in need of support to be discussed. Moving from concept to reality quickly should be a real incentive for banks to get involved,” explained WBD EVP Randy Kyle. “WEDA is doing great work and our support can help them connect their work to new sources of funding to make much needed projects happen across all of Wisconsin.”

WBD is one of the most successful Certified Development Companies in the US, helping hundreds of businesses each year get access to low cost, long term, fixed rate financing to foster business growth and success. As a mission based non-profit organization, WBD reinvests in other economic development activities.


Guest Column

Setting PACE in Wisconsin

By John Hochkammer, Outreach Manger
Wisconsin Counties Association

PACE Wisconsin recently hit a milestone and added the thirtieth Wisconsin county to offer Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing in the state. Using PACE as an economic development tool, participating counties are empowering commercial property owners in their communities to save energy and money on energy efficiency updates, communities to create new jobs, and local economies to flourish—all without any taxpayer assistance.

The use of PACE financing as the economic development tool pays for itself. Jason Stringer, Administrator, PACE Wisconsin explained, “PACE gives property owners access to low-cost, long-term financing that stimulates economies through building revitalization.” To date, PACE Wisconsin has facilitated five projects and has several more in the application process. PACE financing as a development tool is setting PACE to have a positive impact for businesses and the revitalization of communities.

Building owners are using financing available through PACE Wisconsin as a means of financing energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations for commercial and industrial properties. PACE financing can fund up to 100% of the cost of building improvements like HVAC, lighting insulation, roofs, renewable energy, water efficiency products, along with several other measures. Eligible property types for PACE financing include: office, retail, manufacturing, agriculture, hospitals, hospitality, non-profit and multi-family (with five or more units) buildings. PACE financing can be used on new or existing facilities.

Jon Hochkammer, Outreach Manager, Wisconsin Counties Association states, “The use of PACE financing is both an economic development and sustainability tool which allows commercial property owners to fund energy efficiencies without using equity required to fund their current operations. In addition, PACE financing can be used without jeopardizing other grants, tax credits, or any other program. The Wisconsin Counties Association is excited to see growing interest in PACE Wisconsin.”

The program currently has fourteen PACE Wisconsin lenders, who have collectively allocated more than $100 million of capital available to fund eligible projects and there are 40 registered contractors available to help them complete projects. “We are excited to use PACE financing to help save energy and money, create new jobs, and empower local economies to flourish,” said Stringer. The stage is set for communities across the state to reap the benefits PACE Wisconsin has to offer.

Learn more about PACE Wisconsin, eligible projects and project development at


Guest Column

Job Center of Wisconsin

Where Talent & Opportunity Meet In-person and Online

By the WI Department of Workforce Development

Wisconsin’s strong economy boasts historic low unemployment and more people working than any point in the state’s history. With so many Wisconsinites working, our biggest challenge now is ensuring that our workers develop the job skills needed to fill current and future job openings, so our employers remain competitive and our economy continues to grow.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and workforce system partners are conveniently co-located at Wisconsin Job Centers across the state, providing area employers and economic development professionals with access to effective, low and no-cost talent development solutions. Your local Job Center’s Business Services team is available to help you develop a diverse workforce and improve retention results by connecting with a broad pool of skilled job candidates, including individuals with disabilities, veterans, and youth.

Contact Business Services for help with: posting job openings online, coordinating onsite recruitments, collecting job applications, screening job candidates, administering pre-employment assessments, learning about hiring incentives and tax credits and coordinating training opportunities. Business Services staff also are available to help you explore DWD’s nationally recognized talent development strategies, such as Youth Apprenticeship, Registered Apprenticeship, Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training grants and more.

DWD also operates (JCW), Wisconsin’s online public labor exchange that connects employers with talent at no cost 24 hours a day. Contact your Business Services team for assistance with incorporating JCW tools into your talent development strategy, including posting jobs, searching for talent, building job descriptions based on skills and using MyLMI widgets to access and save integrated labor market information. Plus, use your JCW employer login credentials to take advantage of these free online resources:

  • Offers powerful, easy-to-use tools to help businesses research economic and labor market data and make informed employment decisions. Create personalized reports and visualizations using the most current data available in Wisconsin to learn about the local labor pool; examine wages and long-term employment projections by industry and occupation; and help determine business location and expansion plans.
  • Recruit college interns on WisConnect, a free online resource that matches college students with internship by location, college major and key skills. Sign-in to develop a company profile, build your internship program, post internships and search for college talent.


WEDA’s New Toolbox Newsletter Provides Overview of Economic Development Tools

WEDA is excited to deliver the Toolbox Newsletter – a new publication to provide WEDA members and our economic development partners with an overview of available economic development tools and how they can be used to benefit communities across Wisconsin. Each edition will offer insight into the programs and policies used in Wisconsin to drive economic growth, providing readers with relevant information on new programs, updates to existing programs and best practices for implementation.

In the inaugural edition, the Toolbox focuses on Wisconsin’s Historic Tax Credit (HTC) program, which offers state income tax credits to leverage private investment for the redevelopment of historic buildings. The program has helped revitalize communities across the state, spurring economic activity, generating new tax revenue, and creating job opportunities. This edition of the Toolbox provides a look at how the HTC was used to transform a long-vacant property in downtown Oshkosh into a bustling multi-purpose complex with residential, commercial and retail space. Readers will also learn more about how the HTC process works and the program’s significant economic impact in both large and small communities.

Click here to view the Toolbox Newsletter on the WEDA website.


WEDA Legislative Spotlight

Although the 2017-18 legislative session is over, and WEDA is developing its Legislative Agenda for next session, it’s important for WEDA members to stay informed on important economic development-related bills that were recently passed into law. Please utilize the following WEDA resources for key legislative information:

If you have any questions regarding legislation signed into law during the 2017-18 session, please contact WEDA’s Legislative Affairs Director, Michael Welsh at


Wisconsin Economic Development Institute Update

Economic Development News and Views


Information You Can Use:

Economic Development News:

  • Growth in America Is Tilting to Smaller Cities – New (an ED blog) claims small and mid-sized metro areas currently account for the majority of growth in US cities.
  • The State New Economy Index – The index uses 25 indicators to measure the extent to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, IT-driven, and innovation-oriented. WI ranks 26th but has risen over the last few years.

Economic Opportunity:

Do you have any major data, policy information how-to-do needs? If you do, please contact WEDI, maybe we can help. Visit for your current economic development marketing data needs. The “Fact Sheets” and Small Business Development “Tool Box” have been updated to 2017.


Message From WHEDA: New Markets Tax Credits Pipeline Projects

Lift Wisconsin, Inc. was established by the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and a coalition of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with a mission to invest in severely economically distressed areas of Wisconsin and to serve as a catalyst for economic development and job creation in communities across the state. Lift Wisconsin, Inc. intends to compete for New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), which are issued through the U.S. Department of Treasury, in order to achieve that mission.

In order to compete for New Markets Tax Credits, WHEDA is soliciting projects to include in an application with the U.S. Department of Treasury. This pipeline pre-application gives Wisconsin the potential to compete for NMTC, but does not ensure that Lift Wisconsin, Inc. will get an allocation of NMTC.

If you are aware of a potential project to acquire, build, renovate, or expand a facility in a severely economically distressed census tract as identified through the New Markets Tax Credits Program Eligibility map, please complete and return the New Markets Tax Credit Pre-Application Form to Lift Wisconsin, Inc. would be pleased to review your project for potential eligibility and include it as part of its comprehensive New Markets Tax Credit project pipeline.


Welcome New WEDA Members

  • Becky Albert-Breed, Executive Director – First Nations Community Financial
  • Pamela Boivin, Executive Director – NiiJii Capital Partners, Inc.
  • Gary Mejchar, Project Manager – First American Capital Corporation
  • Fern Orie, CEO – Wisconsin Native Loan Fund
  • Gail Towers Nolan – Towers Nolan Consulting