The Lower Chippewa Valley in western Wisconsin is primed for growth. Located immediately adjacent to Minneapolis and St. Paul, the region offers a wealth of amenities to companies at a fraction of the cost in one of the Midwest’s fastest growing regions. However, area businesses are not finding the talent they need to fill jobs and grow. While this is a common national problem, west central Wisconsin area leaders are becoming increasingly concerned that this talent shortage may impede the region’s future economic prosperity.
To help solve the workforce shortage problem, Momentum West (along with it’s partners) initiated a strategic planning process in 2016 to develop consensus around a talent attraction and retention plan. The plan seeks to bring area leaders together to expand the region’s talent pool and better prepare workers for available regional jobs.
Momentum West engaged the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), a national nonprofit focused on integrating workforce and economic development, and the Institute for Decision Making (IDM), an affiliate of the University of Northern Iowa. As partners, CREC and IDM assisted the Talent Attraction & Retention Steering Committee of Momentum West in conducting research and facilitating a plan development process. Their work included an analysis of the region’s existing talent supply (Workforce Analysis), an assessment of its capacity to develop or attract workers (Asset Analysis), and an implementation plan for managing the region’s talent pipeline (Action Plan). The analysis and action plan reflects the unique needs of the Momentum West region combined with the experience of other benchmark regions encountering many of the same issues.
The final result is a Strategic Action Plan that local economic development, workforce development, and education leaders can use in the years ahead. The Plan also ties in related items from the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment 2014-2018 Strategic Plan; ensuring regional efforts are inclusive of State efforts as well.
“The Momentum West region has significantly embraced both the process and recommended strategic actions of the initiative. We have seen over 100 volunteers from business, higher education, workforce development, chambers of commerce and other organization become involved in the effort and many of the strategies are moving forward.” – Steve Jahn, Executive Director
For it’s efforts, Momentum West has been nominated by it’s peers, and selected as a finalist for the Wisconsin Economic Development Association’s (WEDA) Community Economic Development Awards in the Human Capital category.