2018 Year in Review

The Waukesha County Business Alliance had an outstanding year in 2018. Check out some of the highlights:

 

The Alliance celebrated 100 years of business in 2018.

The Alliance achieved record membership of more than 1,200 businesses and community organizations.

Our four pillars – Advocate, Develop, Network and Promote – served as the foundation of the Alliance’s efforts to drive economic growth and make Waukesha County the best place to do business.

The Alliance expanded resources to tackle the number one issue facing our members – the workforce shortage.

The Alliance board endorsed three focus areas for future growth: Workforce Development, Advocacy and Regional Leadership.

The Alliance expanded its small business offerings by adding two more CEO roundtables, after continued success of a pilot CEO roundtable that was launched in 2016.

The Alliance partnered with Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow and the Waukesha County Center for Growth to host a new Waukesha County Awards Gala that honors individuals, businesses and nonprofits who are making Waukesha County a great place to live, work and play.

By the numbers

  • 210 new member companies joined the Alliance in 2018.
  • 6,600 people attended 78 events and programs.
  • 450 businesspeople were involved in the Alliance’s various committees.
  • More than 800 area business and community leaders gathered to celebrate the successes of the Waukesha County business community over the past century at with the Alliance’s 100th anniversary celebration and annual meeting on Sept. 13.
  • More than 2,500 students learned about career opportunities and pathways through Alliance programs. More than 100 member companies directly supported these efforts.
  • More than 30 small business owners participated in monthly roundtable discussions to help each other improve their businesses.
  • The Alliance honored six Emerging Leaders of Waukesha County. These young professionals have shown personal initiative, determination and commitment to their careers and their community.
  • The Alliance helped 30 members celebrate expansions, new locations and remodels at ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Advocacy

  • Then-governor-elect Tony Evers met with the Alliance board on Dec. 19 to share his goals for the incoming Administration and learn about the concerns of Waukesha County businesses.
  • As a non-partisan organization, the Alliance provided members with information about local, state and federal candidates through candidate questionnaires and a 5th Congressional District town hall meeting in advance of the November elections.
  • Alliance staff and members participated in the second annual Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce D.C. Fly-in with more than 45 Wisconsin business leaders. The visit included briefings at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, a White House tour and meeting with U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, and meetings with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Senator Ron Johnson and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
  • The Alliance hosted Senator Ron Johnson’s roundtable discussion on Examining the Effect of Tariffs on Wisconsin businesses. Business leaders at the roundtable discussed how the tariffs are impacting their businesses, particularly in the areas of steel, aluminum and agriculture.

Economic Development

  • The Alliance continued to partner with and promote the county’s two-year-old economic development organization, the Waukesha County Center for Growth, including supporting the creation of a “collaborative fund” to advance projects that encourage business growth.
  • Alliance leadership participated in Foxconn’s official groundbreaking on June 28 to show regional support for the largest economic development project in Wisconsin history.
  • In collaboration with the Waukesha County Center for Growth and Milwaukee 7, the Alliance facilitated meetings for Foxconn representatives with six potential tool & die suppliers in Waukesha County.
  • The Alliance partnered with Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Milwaukee 7 on two Foxconn supplier workshops and hosted a Foxconn-focused Key Industries program for Alliance members to better understand the opportunities related to this project.
  • The Alliance was represented on a state Legislative Council Study Committee examining the potential impact of “dark store” legislation and the impact on property tax assessments.

Infrastructure

  • The Alliance supported the City of Waukesha’s successful application for a federal Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to help with costs related to the city accessing Lake Michigan water. The Waukesha Water Utility is now working on obtaining necessary permits and lines of funding for the project, which will eventually cost an estimated $286 million.
  • The Alliance successfully advocated for an at-grade railroad crossing just north of Sunset Drive as part of the West Waukesha Bypass project, avoiding potential delays and additional construction costs.  Railroad Commissioner Yash Wadhwa amended his earlier decision to require an overpass after WisDOT and Wisconsin Southern Railroad agreed to address Wadhwa’s safety concerns.
  • The Alliance celebrated a victory when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its air quality designations for Wisconsin and designated Waukesha County as in attainment with federal ozone air quality standards. Initially, the EPA had proposed putting Waukesha County in a non-attainment status. “Non-attainment” prompts restrictions on growth, especially in manufacturing, and would have limited economic development in our county. After reviewing scientific and technical data submitted by the Alliance and others, the EPA classified Waukesha County, Racine County and portions of Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties as in attainment.
  • The Alliance supported the Waukesha County Board of Supervisors’ review and ultimate unanimous approval for participation in the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which enables property owners to obtain lost-cost, long-term loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements.

Workforce Development

  • The Alliance and Center for Growth partnered on a pilot Joseph Project Hiring Program on February 16. The event included seven Waukesha County manufacturers, who interviewed approximately 45 candidates from the City of Milwaukee. Companies identified individuals they were interested in hiring, who then participated in the Joseph Project’s one-week training program. Candidates who were offered a position received transportation and additional support through The Joseph Project.
  • The Alliance partnered with County Executive Paul Farrow and the Center for Growth to host a Neighborhood Housing Symposium. The purpose was to discuss the need to develop neighborhoods that will attract young professionals and young families and address the shortage of affordable “starter” homes ($150,000-$225,000 price range) in Waukesha County. Representatives from Quad/Graphics, Froedtert and Belman Homes presented at the meeting. A work group has been created to further study and develop solutions to the issue.
  • The Alliance worked with Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington (WOW) Workforce Development to obtain a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant and launch the state’s first Employer Resource Network (ERN), which works with businesses to support retention efforts by supporting current employees. The ERN provides a shared resource among participating employers to give confidential assistance to employees in such areas as financial counseling, social services referral, etc.
  • The Alliance supported Governor Walker’s $6.8 million allocation to support the launch of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s state branding and talent attraction program.
  • 400 young professionals attended 15 YP programs, networking and volunteer opportunities to build a community of YPs in Waukesha County.
  • 42 people graduated from the Alliance’s 30th Leadership Waukesha County program.
  • The Alliance supported Greater Praise Community Development Corporation and the Joseph Project in its successful request for Wisconsin’s Commute to Careers grant program, resulting in $66,000 awarded to purchase vans and $267,113 to run routes from Milwaukee to jobs in Waukesha County.

Business/Education Partnerships

  • The Alliance launched Careers Uncovered, a pilot program designed to help educators learn about career pathways offered in key industries. A total of 53 teachers, administrators and faculty participated. Participants in this new Alliance program spend a full day with a company, hearing from that company’s executives about the career pathways available within the organization. The day concludes with educators reflecting on what they learned and how they can take this information back to the district and apply it. The program, which focuses on the construction/skilled trades, health care, information technology and manufacturing industries, helps educators guide their students towards making informed decisions about their futures.
  • The Alliance expanded its popular Schools2SkillsTM Manufacturing program into Schools2SkillsTM Health Care. Nearly 1,000 students from 19 schools participated in 25 Schools2Skills™ tours at 39 companies in learn about career pathways in the manufacturing and health care industries.
  • On May 1, the Alliance hosted the first Bridging the Gap for Waukesha County. More than 250 attendees filled the room to hear how to replicate and expand successful business-education partnerships. The program showcased partnerships from school districts of Oconomowoc, Waukesha, Menomonee Falls and Mukwonago with Tim O’Brien’s Homes, Hydro-Thermal, Froedtert-Community Memorial Hospital and Citizens Bank.
  • The Alliance partnered with Carroll University and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce to host a “Mini Business World” program for 145 high school students on March 20. The day-long program teaches high school students about leadership, financial literacy, and free enterprise.
  • The Waukesha Manufacturing Automotive Design and Engineering (M.A.D.E.) Committee expanded its efforts by hosting a hiring event with Waukesha North students. More than 30 students brought resumes to the event and met to six different employers to interview for positions involving youth apprenticeships, internships and part-time work.
  • More than 1,500 students talked with 46 companies at the MADE Career Pathways Expo and the Many Futures in Health Care Career Pathways Expo.
  • Eleven superintendents and presidents participated in four roundtable discussions with industry leaders to learn how to better prepare their students for careers in our area.
  • Five Waukesha County school districts (Arrowhead High School, School District of Elmbrook, School District of Mukwonago, School District of New Berlin and School District of Waukesha) received $189,100 in grants from Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to expand their technical education programs.