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September 15, 2000

Economic Summit to Explore Region's Economy

Western Wisconsin's proximity to the Twin Cities are a distinct advantage to economic development. But the region's distance from the decision-making centers of Madison and Milwaukee are definite weaknesses in its ability to create an atmosphere for expansion.

Those contrasts are among many that were identified by a score of regional economic and education leaders during a recent gathering as they set the groundwork for a St. Croix Valley Regional Economic Forum to be held on Oct. 4 at UW-River Falls. More than 100 leaders are expected to attend from Barron, Pierce, Polk, Pepin, and St. Croix counties.

The St. Croix Forum will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rodli Commons at UW-RF. There is no cost associated with participating in the forum.

The St. Croix forum is one of nine regional meetings around Wisconsin that will prepare recommendations to be considered at a Wisconsin Economic Summit Nov. 29 - Dec. 1 in Milwaukee. The statewide summit is being sponsored by the University of Wisconsin System, Forward Wisconsin, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Technology & Entrepreneurs Council, and Competitive Wisconsin. It will be attended by Gov. Tommy Thompson, key legislative leaders, and business and education leaders from across the state.

The initiative will address how Wisconsin can become a leader in the knowledge-based economy, building upon the state's existing strengths in agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

UW-RF Chancellor Ann Lydecker, who is chairing the St. Croix Valley forum, said the recent planning session and its SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis will give forum participants some food for thought.

"There weren't any surprises in the issues that were identified," Lydecker said of the 34 distinct observations contained in the SWOT analysis. "What was important is that for the first time these were identified from a regional perspective. This will give those at the forum a common ground starting point as we begin to map out a future for the region's new economy that will address the concerns in the SWOT analysis."

According to Lydecker, "At the St. Croix Valley Regional Forum, we will assess where Wisconsin fits into the global marketplace, which strategies offer the most promise, where the greatest opportunities lie, and what we should avoid.

"We will explore those topics in relationship to traditional or emerging sectors of our economy, including manufacturing, agriculture, service, and professional as well as the areas of biotechnology and high technology," she said.

The format for the Oct. 4 meeting will include an overview of the St. Croix region's and Wisconsin's economies, emerging trends and the SWOT analysis. Participants will then break out into discussion groups to address seven key topics:

‹Building Quality Jobs

‹Enlarging Venture Capital Investment
‹Improving the Regulatory Climate
‹Educating the Workforce
‹Improving Wisconsin's Fiscal Future and Entrepreneurial Climate
‹Enhancing Key Infrastructure
‹Building a Distinctive Brand/Image to Position Wisconsin as a Technology and Fast-Growing Jobs Leader.

The forum will take reports from the groups, with the planning committee then writing a white paper of regional observations and concerns that will be brought to the state-wide forum.

Those who cannot attend the forum will be able to comment about the topics on-line through a Web site:

Regional leaders facilitating the St. Croix Valley Economic Forum, are:

•Peter Bremer, technical services manager, Pressenter, River Falls.
•Susan Brown, dean of education & training, Chippewa Valley Technical College, Menomonie.
•Grant Durham, owner and manager, General Plastics Extrusion, Prescott.
•Jim Harsdorf, dairy and livestock production, Beldenville.
•Jan Hillard, director of institutional grants and research, UW-RF, (co-chair).
•Jerry Jerome, president, Turkey Store Company, Barron.
•Bruce Johnson, president, Amery Development Corp.
•Mark Kinders, director of public affairs, UW-RF.
•Jim Letourneau, president, Foley United Manufacturing, River Falls.
•Robert Milam, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, UW-RF.
•David Rasmussen, Polk County planner, Balsam Lake.
•Lynn Regnier, executive director, New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce.
•Bill Rubin, executive director, St. Croix County Economic Development Corp., Hudson.
•Quentin Schultz, president, Biodiagnostics, Ellsworth.
•Paula Stolp, community relations manager, Northern States Power, Hudson.
•Jack Sroka, executive director, Barron County Economic Development Corp., Barron.
•Bernie Van Osdale, city administrator, River Falls.
•Sharon Whelan, administrator, River Falls Area Hospital.
•Chuck Whiting, administrator, St. Croix County, Hudson.
•Richard Best, director, West Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, Menomonie.

For more information about the forum, contact UW-RF Professor Jan Hillard at 715/425-3797.

Here is the SWOT analysis compiled for the St. Croix Valley Regional Economic Forum.

Strengths associated with our region......

1. Proximity to the Twin Cities metropolitan area
2. Projected population growth over the next 10-20 years
3. Strong presence of higher education institutions (Technical Colleges, UW System)
4. Proximity to I-94
5. Desirable quality of life
6. Strong work ethic
7. Independent political culture
8. Competitive business taxes in the Upper Midwest region

Weaknesses associated with our region.....

1. Competitive labor market
2. Lower wages
3. Few indigenous corporate leaders
4. Higher technology access costs and limited availability
5. Out-moded economic development thinking
6. Distance from Madison, "Out-state"
7. Media void
8. Limited venture capital
9. Lack of affordable housing
10. Limited mix of jobs, occupational mix

Opportunities for our region.....

1. Encourage business growth in areas associated with the New Economy
2. Develop the local workforce
3. Develop creative public/private partnerships
4. Promote business to business partnerships and networks
5. Encourage collaboration across cities, towns, counties
6. Build linkages to institutions of higher education, new post-secondary programs
7. Access venture capital in Twin Cities
8. Promote Western Wisconsin identity and advantages in Twin Cities market

Threats for our region.....

1. Discouraging regulatory environment (telecommunications, state regulations)
2. Higher taxes on individuals (property tax)
3. Failure to benefit from increasing globalization
4. Failure to execute an integrated promotional/media campaign
5. Failure to manage population growth
6. Failure to address workforce development needs
7. Failure to develop high technology / higher wage jobs through business development
8. Failure to build a high capacity telecommunications infrastructure across the region


September 15, 2000

Contact: Kevin Boatright
(608) 263-2227

Wisconsin Economic Summit Regional Sessions Scheduled; Registration & Hotel Information Now Available On-Line

MADISON ñ Regional "listening sessions" have been scheduled in preparation for the Wisconsin Economic Summit, set for November 29-December 1 at the Midwest Express Center in Milwaukee under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin System and a number of statewide partners.

The listening sessions, hosted by members of regional committees, will give a wide range of individuals and groups an opportunity to make public comments about the future direction of Wisconsin's economy. These comments, along with more than 40 "white papers" that are being written specifically for the summit, will form the basis of the discussion in Milwaukee. That discussion will focus on seven key topics:

-Building quality jobs
-Enlarging venture capital investment -Improving the regulatory climate
-Educating the workforce
-Improving Wisconsin's fiscal future and entrepreneurial climate
-Enhancing key infrastructures and
-Building a distinctive brand/image to position Wisconsin as a technology and fast-growing jobs leader.

"Momentum for the summit is building," said Jay Smith, president of the UW System Board of Regents. "I hear people all over the state talking about it, and a great deal of thought is going into the preparation of the listening sessions, the white papers, and the meeting itself. I think the end product is going to be a useful game plan for the new Wisconsin economy."

Wisconsin Economic Summit Listening Sessions

Nationally recognized speakers have been invited to address the summit, which will be attended by Governor Thompson, legislative leaders, top Wisconsin CEOs, and community leaders. Among the planned outcomes is development of a collection of "Best Ideas for Wisconsin's Future" that can help guide the state's strategic economic planning. "The summit is being held to open a dialogue about the economic future of Wisconsin," said Katharine Lyall, president of the UW System. "We're soliciting input from government, business, labor, higher education and the statewide community. From that, we hope to create a set of realistic goals -- a `road map' of Wisconsin's path into the 21st century."

Five regional committees are working now to develop input for the summit. They encompass Milwaukee, Madison, the Chippewa Valley, the Fox River Valley and Green Bay, and the rest of the state. The listening sessions will start on Monday, September 25 in Milwaukee and Friday, September 29 in Eau Claire and Stevens Point. Numerous additional sessions will follow during October at sites throughout Wisconsin. The regional committees will announce their sessions through mailings and local news media. Persons wishing to speak or submit written comments should contact the regional committee. The chairs and contact numbers are:

•Madison Area: Mark Bugher, Director, University Research Park, UW-Madison (608) 262-3677

•Milwaukee/Southeast: Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, UW-Milwaukee (414) 229-4035

•Chippewa Valley: Don Mash, Chancellor, UW-Eau Claire Charles Sorensen, Chancellor, UW-Stout (715) 838-9164 or (715) 836-2327

•Fox Valley/Green Bay: Kathi Seifert, Senior Vice President, Kimberly Clark John Gilbert, CEO, Aid Association for Lutherans (920) 424-0424

•Statewide: Kevin Reilly, Chancellor, UW-Extension (608) 262-9871

Wisconsin Economic Summit Listening Sessions

A summit registration form is now available on-line, along with other information, at Cost to attend the summit is $119 on or before October 31, and $149 thereafter. This fee includes several meals and a set of materials. Blocks of hotel rooms have been reserved for those who need them at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center and the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee. The special "Wisconsin Economic Summit" room rate is $89 per night.

The summit web site will feature electronic versions of all of the white papers, as well as other information as it is posted. Persons who do not have access to the web may register for the summit by calling (414) 227-3200 or 1-800-222-3623. Additional information about arrangements is available by calling (414) 227-3131. For information about the summit itself, call 1-800-442-6461.

The Executive Committee of the Wisconsin Economic Summit is as follows:

Jay Smith (co-chair), President UW System Board of Regents
Katharine Lyall (co-chair), President, UW System
Dean Amhaus, President, Forward Wisconsin
Brenda Blanchard, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Commerce
Mark Bugher, Director, University Research Park, UW-Madison
Jim Haney, President, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
Tom Hefty, President, Competitive Wisconsin
Don Kettl, Professor of Political Science, UW-Madison
Dick Leazer, Chair, Wisconsin Technology and Entrepreneurs Council
David Newby, President, Wisconsin AFL-CIO
Don Nichols, Professor of Economics, UW-Madison
Silas Nichols, President, ABB Flexible Automation
David Olien, Senior Vice President for Administration, UW System
John Torinus, CEO, Serigraph, Inc.
David J. Ward, President, Northstar Consulting
Linda Weimer, Vice President for University Relations, UW System

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