Economic development

Bill Mitchell

Executive director

Waukesha County Economic Development Corp.

The “game” of recruiting businesses has changed significantly in today’s economic landscape, according to Bill Mitchell, the executive director of the Waukesha County Economic Development Corp.

“There was a day when the recipe for economic development was indeed simple – attract a business to a community with a well-written ‘quality of life’ sales pitch, toss in a few financial incentives, find a suitable business or industrial park and it would score jobs, investment and tax base.

“Today the game is much more complex and feels like an economic version of medical triage.

“We dig into the company’s decision matrix for an expansion or relocation. We must quickly learn the talent, training, technology, real estate and supply chain needs of the business, bridge the company to state, county and local governmental units and then if the project still makes sense, scope out access to capital to finance it.

“What I’ve learned is that this new economic game requires that we broker great partners in each of these areas to make deals happen. No one organization, whether an economic development corporation, chamber of commerce or business association, can provide all the resources needed to close deals that create jobs and investment dollars in a community.

“Partnerships are tricky – lots of profit-minded stakeholders, agendas and plenty of egos at the table – and building trust among these project partners is not for the weak of heart. The global reality for economic growth is brokering world-class partnerships and the chutzpah to sew the partnerships together successfully.”

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