Bravo! Entrepreneur Regional Spirit: Wisconsin Energy Corp. exemplifies commitment to the community

Wisconsin Energy Corp., the Milwaukee-based parent company of We Energies, has called the Milwaukee region home since 1896.

Its long-storied history and commitment to the community makes the company the perfect recipient of the 2014 BizTimes Regional Spirit Award.

“As a company, we’ve been extremely fortunate to call the Milwaukee region home for more than 115 years,” said Gale Klappa, chairman and chief executive officer. “Our history here says a lot about not only the endurance of the company, but also a lot about how the success of our company is intertwined with the success of the region.”

The business depends on it, Klappa said.

“We can’t pick up our power plants and move them. We’re committed to this region and we have a responsibility to this community,” he said.

Wisconsin Energy provides natural gas and electricity throughout southeastern Wisconsin, but aside from that, the company is regularly applauded for its civic commitment.

“Our business thrives on the success of the economy in our region. That has been our basic philosophy for more than 100 years,” Klappa said.

“A natural outgrowth of that is for us to be intimately involved in community activities. It’s important to help this region become even more of a great place to live and work.”

Under Klappa’s direction, Wisconsin Energy has played an integral role in the development of the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development initiative. He has also served as chairman of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and on the executive committee of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

Klappa has also served on the boards of the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Business Advisory Council, the United Performing Arts Fund and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee.

According to Klappa, the entire leadership team and many Wisconsin Energy employees are committed to community involvement.

Employees have contributed to nearly every major philanthropic organization in the region, either directly or indirectly, he said.

Additionally, the company’s stockholders contribute to the We Energies Foundation, which has, in the past 30 years, invested more than $136 million in the communities served by Wisconsin Energy Corp.

“Our employees are very gracious in donating time and money to organizations throughout the community,” Klappa said. “Leadership by example is very important, and our leadership team exemplifies giving back. It’s part of our ethic and how we believe we should be doing business.”

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