Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Waukesha County
Business Alliance Key Industries event held Friday at the
Country Springs Hotel.
- Business professionals packed a banquet room inside the
Country Springs Hotel early Friday morning, where Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker and other key industry leaders shared
their pulse on the Badger State’s economy.
event, titled “Key Industries for Wisconsin in 2016 and
Beyond” and hosted by the Waukesha County Business Alliance,
included a panel of Greater Milwaukee executives in five
industries: retail & entertainment, commercial development,
information technology, international trade and manufacturing.
Timothy Hanley, global leader, Consumer & Industrial
Products, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.
Jaclynn Walsh, president and COO, Irgens.
panelists included Gregory Marcus, president and CEO at The
Marcus Corporation; Timothy Hanley, global leader, consumer
& industrial products, at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.;
Jaclynn Walsh, president and CEO at Irgens; Jim Zaiser,
president at Hydro-Thermal Corporation; and Brad Zepecki,
managing partner at SafeNet Consulting. Wisconsin Manufacturing
Extension Partnership Director of Global Development Roxanne
Baumann moderated the talk.
of bank’s economic survey
the panel offered its take on the local economy, First Business
Bank unveiled the results of its 2015 economic survey. The
findings showed nearly 70 percent of businesses in the Milwaukee
region expected better performance in 2016, and roughly 75
percent “meeting or exceeding overall performance
expectations,” in the current year.
findings also showed:
record-tying 72 percent of businesses in the Milwaukee region reporting
sales revenue increases in 2015;
all-time low of businesses reporting a decrease in sales at 11
near-historic high at 79 percent of companies projecting sales
revenue increases in 2016;
lowest ever reported decrease in company profits in the history
of the survey at 20 percent.
outlook for 2016 is very
optimistic,” with hiring and wages expected to be strong, the
Jim Zaiser, president, Hydro-Thermal Corporation.
Brad Zepecki, managing partner, SafeNet Consulting.
most of the panel was optimistic as well, executives expressed
worry over global market influxes that could pull a shade over
the bright economy.
can confirm that the United States is a pretty great place to
be, and manufacturing is a pretty good industry to be in,”
said Hanley. “As I have a chance to travel around the rest of
the world and speak to leaders, growth is not so easy. And
growth isn’t always easy for you, either.”
corporations with international components are cautious about
“global headwinds,” including unpredictable markets and the
strong U.S. dollar, Hanley attributed the stagnancy to
companies’ investments in smart technology.
giving you the ability to give your customers information they
never had before that helps drive more demand for your
product,” Hanley said. “If you can attract jobs and these
kinds of technologies, they are an incredible job multiplier.”
think the message here is that Wisconsin manufacturers — as
good as the outlook looks right now— we can’t be
complacent,” Baumann added. “We are convening in a global
market, whether we like it or not.”
entertainment, the same barometers measuring manufacturing
don’t apply. While much of downtown business is stable, the
theater business continues to depend on the popularity of film
releases, Marcus said.
starting to see cracks,” he added, saying that downtown
development could help swing the pendulum. “Nothing horrible,
but it’s just starting to slow down.”
Marcus isn’t too shaken.
like my grandfather said: ‘There’s a kitchen in every home
but people still go out to eat,’” he said.
said the tightening of the commercial real estate environment is
a big win for investors and developers has increased demand —
but also increased rental rates
for building tenants.
really are very bullish on the Greater Milwaukee market,” she
keep those expectations high, the region’s leaders must
continue to invest in research and development and innovate
their products and services, panelists said.
health of manufacturing reflects the health of Wisconsin.
Nearly twothirds of the money for R& D is generated through
manufacturing,” Zaiser said. “We’re bringing money flow
into our state.”
is better than in 2008, when I started on as president,” he
all, companies need to be able to attract young talent, the
and retaining talent
is huge,” said Zupecki, adding that the state is losing out to
cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis. He echoed Marcus’
sentiment about investing into downtown Milwaukee to retain
workers. “We have a huge technical challenge in our area.”
meet those challenges head on, Walker said Wisconsinites need to
future employees at a younger age, bolstering technical college
programs and valuing the role that skilled workers play in the
just gotta have all hands on deck,” Walker said. “Now, the
focus is not just on churning out jobs, but as much as making
sure people have the skills that they need to fill those