As 2020 begins the Milwaukee region is in a war for talent. And, we’re losing.
We constantly hear from area business owners who say that their biggest challenge is finding the people that their companies need to grow.
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at 3.4%. That’s good news for workers, but it also demonstrates the challenge businesses here face in finding talent.
Here’s the bad news: economic growth in Wisconsin is weak, very weak. Wisconsin’s economy grew just 1.1% in the second quarter of 2019, ranking 43rd in the country, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. During the first quarter of 2019, the state’s economy also grew just 1.1%.
What’s the problem? It’s all about talent. States and regions that attract talent experience economic growth and those that don’t remain stagnant.
Wisconsin’s population is barely growing. The state’s population has grown just 2.4% since 2010, which ranks 37th in the nation. The city of Milwaukee’s population is in decline. Our lack of population growth is directly tied to our lack of economic growth.
Southeastern Wisconsin needs to position itself as welcoming and attractive for talent, all talent from any background. To become more economically competitive, Milwaukee needs to be seen as an attractive destination for people of any gender and all races, ethnicities, creeds, backgrounds and lifestyles. The Milwaukee area needs to attract, embrace and retain the diverse talent in its business community. We can’t afford to discriminate.
For too long, other cities have been perceived as more friendly to diverse communities than Milwaukee. In order to compete, Milwaukee needs to change that narrative.
At BizTimes Media we are doing our part to address this issue. Last year our BizTimes Milwaukee magazine did a cover story on the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s initiative to increase management and workforce diversity in the region. The April 13 edition of our magazine will include a special report on diversity.
Our newest initiative is the BizTimes Media Notables series. Based on a similar series done by Crain’s Chicago Business, the BizTimes Notables series highlights business leaders making a difference in their companies and their industries in southeastern Wisconsin.
In December, we presented our first of the Notables series: Notable Women in Manufacturing. Our next group, coming soon, will be Notable Women in Commercial Banking.
Future Notable lists will include: Notable LGBTQ Executives, Notable Residential Real Estate Agents, Notable Women in Law and Notable Women in Health Care.
We are seeking nominations for all of these lists. Click here to learn more and submit nominations.
It should be noted that the Notable LGBTQ Executives will not just include executives who identify as LGBTQ, but will also include executives that are committed to supporting diversity and equality in the workforce.
It is important to emphasize that we are not trying to make a social statement with these lists. We are not political activists or “social justice warriors.” We are trying to bring attention to the fact that workforce diversity and inclusion are vital economic issues for southeastern Wisconsin and we want to bring attention to the people who are working to make Milwaukee thrive.
Dan Meyer is the publisher of BizTimes Milwaukee.