MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) – Hundreds of business leaders from across the state gathered in Madison Wednesday to talk about the biggest issues facing Wisconsin.
Every year, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) hosts 'Business Day in Madison' to allow the business community to share their issues with lawmakers.
Businesses both big and small across Wisconsin face a common struggle.
“Well, we're looking at continuing challenges in the workplace to recruit, hire and retain quality co-workers,” Steve Loehr, vice president of Kwik Trip, said. “We work with WMC, with the colleges, with the tech schools to help support them to provide the courses, you know, our co-workers need to be efficient and proficient in the new workplace. More technology, more IT.”
WMC says they hear about businesses struggling to find help pretty often, and it's not always because of a lack of skill.
“It's about 78 percent of members, when we survey them twice a year, say they're having a really difficult time finding workers,” Scott Manley, Executive Vice President of Government Relations at WMC, said.
Manley says WMC is pushing for more relevant programming and more funding for universities and tech schools.
That's on top of trying to find ways to attract people to Wisconsin.
“We're marketing Wisconsin as a great place to live, work and raise a family to workers in other states like in the Chicago area, in the Twin Cities, other Midwest cities to say come work here,” Manley said.
The state's Department of Workforce Development says making people want to live here means investing in other areas too.
“When we talk to employers that are looking to make the move, the things that they're concerned about are is attracting a workforce and what workers want are strong schools, a high quality of life, clean water, adequate broadband, and so by investing in what we would call economic infrastructure or the things that make strong commerce possible, we make Wisconsin the most attractive place to stay and relocate,” Caleb Frostman, Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development, said.
For executives like Loehr, 'Business Day in Madison' is all about working together on those ideas to make Wisconsin thrive.
“We go back to La Crosse supercharged because we're very bullish about future growth of Kwik Trip in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa as well, and to get together with fellow business people that feel the same way that there's great opportunities for Wisconsin to keep growing and prosper,” Loehr said.