More and more, economic opportunity is being driven by the availability of talent rather than by traditional economic development infrastructure—tax climate, transportation networks, etc. To maintain its competitive edge with respect to retaining and attracting the best and brightest minds to fill existing and future jobs, Wisconsin must expand perceptions regarding the career and personal fulfillment opportunities our state offers. With input and participation from economic development stakeholders throughout the state, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has introduced a new, collaborative marketing strategy to do just that—Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin.

Data from the Governor’s Council on Workforce Development underscores the challenge Wisconsin faces in filling open jobs today, and the situation will only get worse with time. Job demand in Wisconsin is projected to outpace the state’s population growth between now and 2030. A recent study by the Taxpayers Alliance concludes, “If we don’t have workers here, Wisconsin companies that want to expand are going to expand elsewhere. And cutting-edge companies that are looking to expand, they’re not going to come here because they won’t be able to find the workers.” According to a survey by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, a workforce shortage is already causing some companies in Wisconsin to delay expansion plans.

Compounding the problem is a lack of understanding, particularly among young people, of the opportunities Wisconsin offers for professional and personal success. According to research conducted by WEDC, perceptions of Wisconsin, especially among people outside the state, are strong, but limited. We are famous for our cheese, beautiful nature and legendary Green Bay Packers. Less well-known is Wisconsin’s long history of original thinking, problem-solving and innovation—traits that continue to drive discovery and improve lives around the world.

tricia-braun-think-make-happen-webWEDC Deputy Secretary Tricia Braun shared these research findings and other takeaways from input sessions the agency held throughout the state at the Future Wisconsin Economic Summit in Madison in December. WEDC tested a number of potential brand statements in its national survey, asking respondents to rate the relevance of each statement to their location decisions and to gauge its accuracy in describing Wisconsin. Across all demographics and all geographies, respondents expressed a strong affinity for a message describing Wisconsin as a state of “thinkers, makers and doers.”

WEDC also heard from young professional groups in Wisconsin that words are not enough. Equally important are the positive experiences that Wisconsin offers, and the social connections being developed among people committed to the state’s economic future. Young people desire to make a contribution, to be part of something bigger than themselves. This idea helped finalize the brand statement that Braun and partners from across the state representing a variety of geographies and perspectives unveiled at the Future Wisconsin Economic Summit.

To learn more about how Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin aims to strengthen and share what it means to live and work here and how you can participate in this exciting new initiative, visit