We were joined by WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes on May 7th for a casual conversation about the efforts to reopen the Wisconsin economy. Missy and the entire WEDC are very focused on finding a balance between both the public health and economic impacts. Two months ago, her main focus was on a tight labor market. In that short period of time we are now facing 25% unemployment. Although tables have turned, we still have workforce challenges and much of the workforce will still need different skills for the future, she believes we have a huge opportunity to prepare for the Wisconsin economy of the future and get our workforce ready for tomorrow. They are busy thinking about the new technologies that we will need and how we innovate as we go forward.
The WEDC has been busy working with the SBA from initial release of the CARES act to get the right resources to Wisconsin businesses and will continue to do so. From a real estate perspective, businesses face new challenges in terms of creating safe workspaces. How do you bring people back, how are they appropriately socially distanced, are your facilities conducive to this? Even given these challenges, Missy feels that Wisconsin is still well positioned and offers strong risk mitigation opportunities for incoming businesses.
The WEDC is also working closely to understand technology needs across the state and the access to broadband. They’ve actively worked to understand the assets that were in place before, and what are the strengths and weaknesses in the various areas. A potential stimulus package focused on infrastructure will help bring this up to speed as the need for virtual communication isn’t going away anytime soon.
At the end of the day, until people feel safe, they are not coming back to work and the WEDC is committed to providing a safe and prosperous economic environment for Wisconsin businesses. We will be following up with the department next week with input. Contact us if you are interested in sharing thoughts or ideas.