Here among the cheese heads, cheering for the Vikings isn’t easy. Every fall when the leaves change colors and the weather turns cold, I’m a small purple island in a sea of green and gold.
Since the NFL season is just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about what would happen if we applied some of the same strategies used by NFL teams to attract more businesses and entrepreneurs to Portage County. Let’s take a look.
Much like NFL teams build their rosters through the draft, Skyward works directly with local schools to develop early interest in technology. If we are to maintain a full pipeline for future talent, there’s no better way than by showing kids the career opportunities that are already available right here in Portage County.
Is it working? You bet! At last count, 243 of Skyward’s 526 employees have degrees from either UWSP or MSTC—and a large percentage of those started out right here in the local schools. We’re already surrounded by talent; we just need to find more ways to keep it here.
Remember when getting traded to the Packers was the equivalent of being sent to Siberia? No player or coach wanted to go there. How did they change the culture to make Green Bay an attractive destination? They brought in Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre, and Reggie White. Suddenly, top free agents were clamoring to be part of the smallest market in pro sports.
As a local business leader, what have you done lately to promote your company culture to the kids who will be entering the workforce in 5 or 10 years? Trust me when I tell you that teachers love taking students to local businesses to learn more about career opportunities that are waiting for them when they finish school. By working together, we can open the next generation’s eyes to the fact that they don’t have to go far to find the career of their dreams.
In the last few years, as shiny new mega-stadiums sprang up with high-end amenities for players, staff, and fans, the Metrodome was looking like an outdated relic. This fall, my beloved Vikings are moving into a state-of-the-art $1.1 billion home — U.S. Bank Stadium — to keep pace with the 31 other teams.
Our great schools, low cost of living, and abundant recreational activities make Portage County a great place to live and work. But this is no longer enough. Much like NFL teams, we need to make sure our community has the infrastructure and amenities that will make it attractive to prospective businesses and employees. At Skyward, our new 190,000 square foot world headquarters offers plenty of room for future expansion and cutting-edge features that will help us compete for top talent for many years to come.
In the NFL, players make plays but teamwork wins championships. One of the things I like best about living in Portage County is that the people here look out for one another. We need to adopt that same concept of teamwork to economic development, and one of the best ways to do that is by becoming active in the Portage County Business Council.
Whether you’re a fan of the Packers, the Vikings, or some other team, the growth of our community is in all of our best interests. Let’s continue working together to make Portage County a place that any growing business will be proud to call home.