AGRICULTURE & FOOD SYSTEMS
Within northwest Wisconsin, the Chequamegon Bay region has been experiencing a surge in interest and need for sustainable and local foods. With the expansion of the Chequamegon Food Co-Op and Northland College signing the Lake Superior Good Food Charter and the Superior Compact, there has been an increased demand for local foods. Strong partnerships have been established with national and statewide industry groups, including the Land Stewardship Project and Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council, to begin assisting in this industry's expansion.
Construction accounts for 6% of the Gross Regional Product and is expected to see an employment increase of 18.2% by 2022. The region needs a strategy to grow our construction industry and provide skilled workers. The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board (NWWIB) is working on regional efforts to increase the pipeline of available workers to meet this industry's needs. One initiative is the Construction Foundations course, which will provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary for job success in the construction industry. This course is made possible from a partnership between NWWIB and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
FOREST PRODUCTS/WOOD INDUSTRY
Currently, Wisconsin ranks among the top 10 states in forest products production. In northwest Wisconsin, employers in the industry provide one in every four manufacturing jobs. The Forest Products/Wood Industry of northwest Wisconsin is composed of 12 counties, including: Ashland, Bayfield, Barron, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Washburn. The region consists of 8 million acres, roughly 23% of the land surface of the state. Wisconsin’s quality resources are an advantage to new and expanding forest product industries. The northern part of the state comprises the bulk of the resource with a predominance of sugar maple, northern red oak, and aspen. Both the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board and Visions Northwest are exploring economic and workforce development strategies to help this industry sector reach its full potential. The state of Wisconsin also recognizes this industry’s potential and has expanded its Forest Products Services Program. For more information about this program, please contact Collin Buntrock 715.365.4704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HealthWorks Northwest (HWNW) was developed through a one year initiative to develop a formal network of regional healthcare workforce stakeholders funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). During the HRSA Network Development Planning Grant, HWNW conducted a skills gap assessment, formalized the group through MOUs bylaws and policies, and created a three year strategic plan. The overall mission of HWNW is to bring together service providers, educational partners, and other stakeholders to foster a thriving healthcare workforce to service communities in Northwest Wisconsin with a vision of a highly skilled, diverse healthcare workforce dedicated to providing high quality care, responsive to our region’s changing and interdependent needs. There are currently 30 members representing hospitals, long term care, home health, public health, higher education, and workforce investment.
In northwest Wisconsin, the manufacturing sector is one of the region’s highest growth industries. Jobs in manufacturing range from basic line-workers to advanced positions as CNC machinists and mechanical engineers; it’s an industry where everyone is a fit. Even more encouraging, the job outlook for a career in manufacturing is positive as today's workforce is aging (opening up positions) and sector expansion has led to increased job creation making this a high demand career option. This industry partnership has focused on developing Mythbusting Manufacturing Tours, which are designed to dispel myths about manufacturing and expose youth to manufacturing career opportunities in the region.
Not only is there a need for truck drivers regionally, there is also a huge demand nationwide. It is expected that by year 2020 there will be a shortage of 300,000 drivers in the nation. The focus of this partnership is informing the public about this need. High Wage Highway is a new twist on a job fair for the trucking industry. This exhibit booth brings information about the industry to the public at regional festivals and events instead of the public seeking out trucking companies at a job fair. High Wage Highway provides the industry an opportunity to educate the public about how the industry has changed and also recruit for their current and future workforce.
RETAIL AND HOSPITALITY
The NWWIB is continuing to build upon our work within the hospitality and retail industries. Engaging this sector is critical to the success of Northern Wisconsin's economy as a whole. Part of this initiative is creating a career pathway that can be used by job seekers and employers. Currently, we are in the process of building out a robust training program. More information to come soon!