A collaborative approach to leveraging industry leadership through high impact initiatives will advance economic development opportunities in Wisconsin, with the potential of producing leaps in the growth and competitiveness of priority industries.

WEDC’s Business and Industry Development (BID) division was created to identify, target and lead high growth economic development opportunities in key Wisconsin industry sectors, those with competitive advantages, consortia and industry cluster leadership.

“The traditional approach to industry sector development was a ‘defensive’ strategy of responding to business needs with incentives,” said Lee Swindall, vice president of the BID division. “WEDC’s approach is to take a criteria‐based approach to ‘lead’ high-value industry sectors that have high, sustainable economic impact with outcome-based collaborative initiatives.”

Identifying Sectors

Since WEDC’s founding, WEDC sector managers have used key criteria in determining the sector engagements with industry groups in order to deploy business development strategies with the greatest long-term potential for high growth. Those industry groups must exhibit the following criteria:

  • High organizational maturity
  • Strong stable leadership
  • Stable financial position with strong industry support
  • Sustainable and scalable business model

Before making any investment in a target industry program or project, WEDC also determines whether that investment will:

  • Offer immediate and recurring positive economic impact
  • Create or strengthen a unique competitive advantage for Wisconsin
  • Attract co-investment funds

“The criteria are the key for ensuring success and justifying an investment and technical assistance,” Swindall said. “Strong consortium leadership and commitment indicates these industry sectors are fully engaged in moving their industry forward.”

Priority Partnerships

Working collaboratively with regional economic development partners, WEDC engages with those industry sectors. WEDC then forms working relationships with established business associations, consortia, and industry cluster organizations, leveraging both efficiency and effectiveness.

WEDC has developed collaborative efforts of financial or technical assistance with several organizations that have met WEDC’s criteria for industry investment, including:

In addition, WEDC is working with the energy, power and controls; aviation and aerospace; water technology sectors to support the development of consortia-led development initiatives.

WEDC Strategies for the Future

WEDC continues to evaluate promising new opportunities to improve Wisconsin’s economic standing by engaging with groups focused on industry and minority business success. The Business and Industry Development division helps align opportunities with other WEDC resources through its Entrepreneurship and Innovation, International Business Development and Economic and Community Development divisions.

WEDC’s Business and Industry Development division’s FY14 operations plan calls for engagement with 20 distinct, targeted industry sector development opportunities. The division will fully deploy the Minority Business Development Funds through minority chambers of commerce, and increase deployment capacity of minority business organizations, including women-owned and disabled veteran-owned business, to promote new business creation, business expansion, and increased employment in the minority business community of Wisconsin.

The division will complete formal strategic plans for up to four targeted industry consortia/associations to maximize growth acceleration and effectiveness with actual planned industry development goals that can be tracked and measured to determine effectiveness and business dividends.

The division will support the Transform Milwaukee Initiative with services and impacts delivered through Scale Up Milwaukee, Midwest Energy Research Consortium and other initiatives with WEDC divisions.

Working with WEDC’s Marketing division, WEDC will launch market development plans for up to three targeted industries.

WEDC will also collaborate with workforce development boards on pilot programs across Wisconsin to implement a workforce retention/layoff aversion initiative.

(October 2013)