Sept. 26, 2018

In This Edition…

  • President’s Message
  • Executive Director’s Corner
  • WEDC Bulletin
  • Guest Column: DWD Budget Proposal Part of Governor Walker’s Plan To Keep Wisconsin Winning
  • WEDI Update
  • DWD Upgrading Fast Forward Program to Better Meet Employers’ Needs
  • 2018 CEDA Award Winners Unveiled at Annual Gala
  • Welcome New WEDA Members

President’s Message: Heather Wessling, CEcD

September has certainly been an eventful month for WEDA. From an increasingly influential awards gala to a wildly acclaimed training program and our annual Fall Conference, there are great things happening at WEDA that our members and partners should be excited about.

On September 12, WEDA hosted the Community and Economic Development Awards (CEDA) along with our key partners – WEDC, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Wisconsin Counties Association. The 4th annual awards ceremony was a smashing success, with key Wisconsin business, projects and organizations “walking the red carpet” and being recognized for their extraordinary contributions to advancing Wisconsin’s economy. Check out the winners and all the nominees on the WEDA website.

WEDA also co-hosted – along with IEDC – the Basic Economic Development Course this month. The intensive four-day course held on the UW Madison campus provided a comprehensive introduction to the basics of economic development to a whole new class of industry professionals. I wish them the best on their professional journey. Rest assured, they have a great foundation to build on after attending the BEDC.

And as we gear up for the WEDA fall conference, which begins today in Green Bay at Lambeau Field, we can’t help but look forward to experiencing an insider’s look at the Titletown District and the tremendous educational and networking opportunities the annual conference provides. This year’s conference focuses on the Wisconsin economic development toolbox and how it can best be utilized in communities across the state. It’s always a pleasure to interact with colleagues and other professionals to learn, network and discuss the latest developments in our industry.

Aside from the many WEDA events occurring this fall, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention other encouraging developments happening within our association. For example, WEDA continues to improve its financial position by diversifying its income through its offerings across the state. It’s also important to note the growing strength of our legislative advocacy program, our training and educational offerings, and our new programs and services, such as the CRA Network. In short, the state of WEDA is strong.

However, none of our progress and success would be possible without you. Thank you for supporting WEDA. Talk soon…

Executive Director’s Corner: Brian Doudna, EDFP

I am looking forward to seeing you all at WEDA’s upcoming CRA Network regional meetings.

The purpose of the CRA Network is to help match financial institutions, corporate enterprises and community foundations with our member organizations and communities that have Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) eligible community and economic development proposals in need of an investment, grant or loan. Again, I want to thank WBD for sponsoring the CRA Network to advance more projects across Wisconsin.

The CRA Network, launched in June, will continue to connect nonprofits with the opportunity to present projects in need of funding to financial institutions in their regions and across the state. You can visit the CRA Network online at to learn more about this exciting program and to submit your application with a basic project summary. WEDA will then work with the banking community and relevant regulatory agencies to determine if submitted projects meets key CRA objectives and can be documented as a type of project that has received CRA consideration elsewhere in the country. This research effort provides clarity to the financial institutions on how your specific project could become part of a CRA strategy or portfolio.

Community Reinvestment Projects are typically tied to the following types of activities:

  • Community Facilities
  • Financial Education
  • Small Business Development through Microlending
  • Neighborhood Stabilization and Affordable Housing
  • Workforce Development Programming

With recent flooding in numerous communities across the state, WEDA is also researching how the CRA Network can assist banks in a collaborative response to the challenges of economic drivers that may have been negatively impacted by storm and flooding damage.

Don’t be shy in submitting projects, concepts or ideas that need research or additional work! WEDA needs projects to build a stronger collaboration with the financial institutions across Wisconsin. In some cases, the technical assistance provided to advance a business model can be an eligible CRA activity if documented appropriately. Over the next decade, the nature of banking will continue to experience rapid change. The CRA Network will build a model for ensuring more projects funded today, while build a stronger network for future deals.

WEDC Bulletin

Wisconsin launches first-ever national campaign to attract veterans transitioning to civilian life
The state of Wisconsin has launched a $1.9 million national marketing campaign to encourage military personnel and their spouses who are transitioning to civilian life to live and work in Wisconsin once they leave the service.

The campaign, a collaborative effort between WEDC, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, is a part of the state’s new $6.8 million marketing campaign aimed at attracting talent to address Wisconsin’s current and future workforce needs.

This marks the first time the state has launched a comprehensive talent attraction campaign aimed at military personnel and spouses.

WEDC awards $750,000 grant for new biomanufacturing center of excellence
WEDC has awarded a $750,000 grant to establish the Forward BIO Initiative – a new biomanufacturing center of excellence that will help to bring groundbreaking research happening in Wisconsin out of the labs and into the marketplace. The grant will be administered by BioForward Wisconsin.

The Forward BIO Initiative is a collaborative effort that will offer entrepreneurs and researchers the resources necessary to effectively translate discoveries into commercial products in the emerging area of biomanufacturing—the advanced manufacturing of therapeutic medical devices, cells, tissues or pharmaceuticals. This initiative is committed to advancing Wisconsin’s position as a national leader in the biomanufacturing industry and features three components developed to reduce commercialization risk: the Forward BIO Institute, Forward BIOLABS, and BioForward Wisconsin.

The collaboration guides projects from pre-incorporation within the Forward BIO Institute to the facilitation of efficient startup launches by Forward BIOLABS, with assistance and guidance from BioForward Wisconsin’s industry partners.

Badger Meter to create 40 jobs in Racine
Badger Meter, a developer of flow measurement products, is expanding its operations in Racine – a project expected to create 40 jobs over the next three years.

WEDC is supporting the project by authorizing up to $250,000 in state income tax credits based on job creation over the next three years. The actual amount of tax credits Badger Meter will receive is contingent upon the number of jobs created during that time.

In 2010, Badger Meter acquired Arizona-based Cox Instruments, which focuses on testing and calibration of flow meters, as well as supplying precision and industrial flow measurement instrumentation for liquid and gas flow measurement applications. Due to facility limitations, Badger Meter has decided to relocate Cox Instruments to its facility on Washington Avenue in Racine.

Plastics manufacturer Nolato Contour expands operations in St. Croix County; plans to create 62 jobs
Nolato Contour, a plastics manufacturer, is expanding its facility in St. Croix County – a $17.9 million project expected to create 62 jobs over the next three years.

To support the expansion, WEDC has authorized up to $250,000 in state income tax credits over the next three years. The actual amount of tax credits Nolato will receive is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period.

Nolato plans to expand at its Baldwin location by adding more than 27,000 square feet to its existing facility, a project that includes the addition of two clean rooms as well as space for material handling and warehousing needs.

The Toro Company expanding in Tomah, creating 35 new jobs
The Toro Company, a leading worldwide provider of outdoor maintenance equipment and irrigation and professional lighting solutions, is expanding its facility in Tomah. The project will add 180,000 square feet to its facility and is expected to create 35 new jobs.

WEDC is supporting the project by authorizing up to $350,000 in state income tax credits over the next four years. The actual amount of tax credits Toro will receive is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period.

A global company, Toro has a network of professional distributors, dealers and retailers in more than 125 countries. Their products are used at such notable sites and events as Carnoustie Golf Links and St. Andrews Links in Scotland, Torrey Pines Golf Course in California, Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, Château de Versailles in France, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol in Spain, Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida and the Wimbledon Championships.

City of Glendale receives $435,000 state grant to redevelop idle site
The City of Glendale is receiving a $435,000 state grant to help redevelop the former site of the Glendale Rail Yard.

The Idle Sites Redevelopment Grant from WEDC will support the Glendale Yard Master Development Plan, a two-phase real estate strategy that will construct multiple industrial and flex-space buildings totaling over 375,000 square feet along the I-43 corridor.

The grant will be used for phase one of the project which will include the construction of a 60,000-square-foot flex-space building as well as a public street. City officials say the construction of a road will be a critical element in unlocking the development value of the parcel.

City of Stoughton receives $500,000 state grant to support downtown redevelopment project
WEDC awarded the City of Stoughton a $500,000 state grant to help raze a vacant downtown building to make way for new development on the property.

The Idle Sites Redevelopment Grant will be used to assist the city in the demolition of the former Highway Trailers building on East South Street along the Yahara River. The grant also will help fund construction of a riverwalk trail and a pedestrian bridge from the downtown site to Mandt Park. In addition, the WEDC funds will enable the city to complete environmental assessments on the site and restore the riverbank. The total cost of the project will be about $2 million.

Guest Column

DWD Budget Proposal Part of Governor Walker’s Plan To Keep Wisconsin Winning

By Secretary Ray Allen
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) recently presented our Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget to Governor Scott Walker outlining the key components of our strategy to continue to build Wisconsin’s workforce into the envy of the nation. As our economy continues to reach new heights, innovative programs are needed not only to attract and retain talented workers, but also help connect workers to employment, and when needed, top-notch training programs.

This includes ensuring our kids in school get the necessary skills they need to build a career by continuing to expand proven training programs such as Youth Apprenticeship and bridging these experiences to post-secondary education. As part of its budget proposal, DWD also requested $20 million in funding for Governor Walker’s Career Creator initiative, which will expand the state’s Youth Apprenticeship program to middle school students, helping to engage young students with career guidance services and programs such as job shadows.

Additionally, the program will provide a $7 million training scholarship program which will help individuals receive the training they need to acquire or retain gainful employment. The Career Creator initiative also will provide $5 million for dual enrollment programming, allowing more students to receive college credits while still in high school, helping them graduate high school better prepared and more work-ready.

We also are responding to what we are hearing from our Main Street employers by requesting an increase in Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) funding to provide enhanced training for our incumbent workforce. In addition, we have proposed block-granting the overall WFF program, which will enable DWD to fund the most successful programs while also eliminating the red tape that may hold back timely funding. We understand that training dollars must be issued in a timely fashion, and these programming changes will make the program more responsive to our changing economy.

DWD’s budget recommendation also contains a request to fund the innovative Commute to Careers initiative, which will fund public-private partnerships to help connect low-income workers and individuals with disabilities to employment opportunities. Additional funding is made available by our partners at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to help fund transportation equipment purchases to enhance this new partnership.

Through proven and new innovative programming, we will help individuals overcome their barriers to employment and take full advantage of the potential of all Wisconsin citizens on their journey to acquiring family-supporting employment.

Wisconisn Economic Development Institute Update

By Rob Kleman, Board Chairman, WEDI, and Senior VP of Economic Development, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce

I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate retiring Wisconisn Economic Development Institute (WEDI) Executive Director and President Roger Nacker on a truly impactful and successful career in economic development in Wisconsin. The state’s economic development community is better off because of the tireless efforts of Roger, and he will always be remembered as a true professional and gentleman in our industry.

As many in our profession know, Roger is the former Director of the Bureau of Business Development for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. He also held a number of other leadership positions at the agency prior to his retirement after 27 years. Of course, he is also a past President of the WEDA Board and served diligently as the key leader of WEDI for 18 years.

WEDI was officially formed in 2000 by WEDA as a not-for-profit, non-partisan foundation formed to conduct research and education designed to increase the effectiveness of economic development efforts. With Roger as Executive Director, WEDI has participated and been a leader in many successful policy development and research related projects that have advanced economic development across Wisconsin. It’s safe to say that economic development in the Badger State has benefited immensely from Roger’s commitment and unrelenting drive to succeed.

To that end, the current WEDI Board is evaluating and determining what our mission and role should be in the future as we continue to be a support mechanism to WEDA. WEDI Board member Mike Mathews is currently leading our organization through a “Growth Wheel” strategic planning process, and we are very excited about the future opportunities and partnerships that we can develop as WEDA’s non-profit charitable arm. Stay tuned for more information on our direction as we move into 2019.

In closing, and on behalf of the entire WEDI Board of Directors, congratulations to Roger Nacker on a very prestigious and decorated career in economic development and best wishes for a well-deserved retirement!

DWD Upgrading Fast Forward Program to Better Meet Employers’ Needs

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Fast Forward worker training grant program has been a tremendous benefit to Wisconsin businesses – and the overall state economy – since its inception. The program has helped address the critical need to enhance Wisconsin’s skilled workforce.

Despite many of its successes, the Fast Forward program can also be difficult for businesses to navigate. A complicated application process, stringent requirements and certain restrictions have limited the use and potential benefits of the program. WEDA has advocated for common-sense changes to the program over the past few years, and our Government Affairs Team has met on several occasions with the DWD secretary’s office to recommend a number of Fast Forward reforms to help make the program more impactful for participants and the state as a whole.

Not only has the department been open to changes suggested by WEDA and other stakeholders, DWD recently issued the following outline of reforms to the Fast Forward program, some of which will be implemented immediately by the agency, and others that will require revisions to the state’s administrative code:

Simplify the Application Process

  • Potential grantees have told us the application process is too complicated.
  • We listened and have simplified the language and recued the number of questions on the application where possible.
  • We will reduce the turnaround time between application deadline and grant award by at least one week.

Getting Workers Off the Sidelines

  • We want to expand the number of businesses and employees that will benefit from the Wisconisn Fast Forward programs.
  • To accomplish that, we will create a new Wisconisn Fast Forward grant that targets people that have never been employed or who are chronically unemployed.
  • We will include training dollars for soft skills training and support services to help these workers take that first step on the pathway to a meaningful career.

Fund Tuition-Supported Training

  • Wisconsin Fast Forward grants currently do not provide for reimbursement of tuition costs for training programs.
  • Moving forward, tuition reimbursement will be allowable as part of a larger training program and when it is more economical than other options such as on-site training.

Customized Training

  • Wisconsin Fast Forward currently requires that all training be customized.
  • To increase flexibility for employers, we will allow for reimbursement of training that has not been previously offered by the employer.

Eliminate $400,000 Grant Limit

  • Grantees currently are limited to a maximum of $400,000/year in Fast Forward grants.
  • Under revisions currently going through the administrative rule process, grantees will be allowed to exceed that limit by applying by applying for combinations of grants under the standard or expanded Fast Forward programs.
  • This change will give grantees more flexibility to partner with other organizations to tap into grant dollars to respond quickly to the changing needs of the Wisconsin workforce.

Increase Reimbursement for Administrative Costs

  • Grantees have given us feedback that administering the Wisconisn Fast Forward grants can be time-consuming.
  • The maximum reimbursement of administrative costs is currently 5%of total project cost.
  • Under revisions currently going through the administrative rule process, we will raise the maximum reimbursement level to 10% of the sum of the grant award and the minimum required match.

WEDA will continue to work with DWD and other stakeholders on additional reforms to the Fast Forward program in an effort to better meet the talent and training needs of Wisconsin businesses.

2018 CEDA Award Winners Unveiled at Annual Gala

Winners of the prominent Community and Economic Development Awards (CEDA) were unveiled at the 4th annual CEDA Awards banquet, held September 12, 2018, at The Edgewater Hotel in Madison. The CEDA Awards program was established by the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) to recognize businesses, projects, and organizations that are making significant contributions to Wisconsin’s economy.

“WEDA is excited to partner with the Wisconsin League of Municipalities, Wisconsin Counties Association, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to present the CEDA Awards and celebrate the dedicated efforts of business and organizations across the state to advance Wisconsin’s economy,” said WEDA Executive Director Brian Doudna.

Awards were given in the following six categories at the CEDA Awards banquet: Business Retention and Expansion; Economic Development Initiative; Economic Driver; Public-Private Partnership; Real Estate Development and Reuse; and Talent Attraction.

2018 CEDA Award Winners:

Business Retention & Expansion – Duluth Trading Company
This award honors innovative economic development projects where communities have successfully mobilized to help retain and potentially expand the operations of an existing business critical to the economic vitality of the community. [Category finalists videos]

Economic Development Initiative – The New North Supply Chain Marketplace
This award honors innovative community and economic development efforts that successfully promote growth and prosperity in Wisconsin communities. [Category finalists videos]

Economic Driver – Generac Power Systems
This award honors businesses committed to long-term investment in their Wisconsin operations that have a significant economic impact in their community and across the state. [Category finalists videos]

Private-Public Partnership – Grand Kakalin development project
This award honors projects, programs or initiatives that have been successful due to exceptional collaboration between the public and private sectors. [Category finalists videos]

Real Estate Redevelopment and Reuse – Menominee Nation Arena
This award honors innovative real estate redevelopment or reuse projects that have had a positive impact on a community’s economy, including job growth and increased tax base. [Category finalists videos]

Talent Development – UW Health HOPE Program
This award honors initiatives or programs that have driven successful talent development efforts to strengthen the Wisconisn Workforce. [Category finalists videos]

Congratulations to all 2018 CEDA Award winners and finalists. Please CLICK HERE to view all 17 CEDA finalists in 2018.

Welcome New WEDA Members

WEDA would like to welcome and thank the following new members for joining the Association:

  • Tom Baron, East Central WI Regional Planning Commission
  • Joy Hannemann, Lancaster Investments
  • Dale Jorgenson, River Falls Economic Development Corporation