Sheboygan County 2035 event will examine workforce challenges

The historic Sheboygan Theatre (Stefanie H. Weill Center for The Performing Arts) can be seen in the background on a rainy day on Eighth Street in downtown Sheboygan.
The historic Sheboygan Theatre (Stefanie H. Weill Center for The Performing Arts) can be seen in the background on a rainy day on Eighth Street in downtown Sheboygan.

Last updated on June 2nd, 2022 at 11:12 am

There are few if any counties with a similar profile to Sheboygan County.

Part of what makes Sheboygan unique is its concentration of global companies – firms like Kohler Co., Acuity Insurance, Johnsonville, Sargento Foods Inc. and Bemis Manufacturing Co. – and its world-class tourism destinations like Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run golf courses or Road America in Elkhart Lake.

The county’s real GDP of almost $6.3 billion, measured in 2012 dollars, is the 12th largest in the state. It is the 272nd largest metro economy in the nation. Similar sized areas include Flagstaff, Arizona; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Blacksburg, Virginia; and Manhattan, Kansas.

But being located about an hour from the larger metro areas of Milwaukee and Green Bay means Sheboygan is challenged to draw the talent and workforce it needs to support its global companies. To help those companies thrive in the coming decades, the county will need to find ways to overcome those challenges.

To provide an opportunity for the community to take a step back and look at the long-term picture, BizTimes Media is presenting Sheboygan County 2035. The event, taking place June 15 from 7:30-10 a.m. at Lakeland University, is sponsored by Froedtert Health. Click here to register.

The morning will start with a panel discussion focused on affordable housing initiatives. It will be moderated by BizTimes editor Andrew Weiland and will feature Sheboygan director of planning and development Chad Pelishek; Don Hamond, board officer of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. and executive vice president at Mersberger Financial Group; Sig Strautmanis, co-developer at General Capital Group; and Bob Werner, president of Werner Homes.

The city of Sheboygan and SCEDC have both taken steps in recent months to help lower costs for home builders, potentially making it easier to develop affordable housing options for the county’s manufacturing workers. The city acquired 277 acres of land and SCEDC launched a fund with support from major employers to help development. (Read the May 23 cover story of BizTimes Milwaukee for more on the initiatives.)

A second panel in the program will focus on innovative talent solutions and opportunities for employers and higher education to collaborate. Moderated by Deidre Martinez, executive director of the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce, the panel will feature Beth Borgen, president of Lakeland University, Michael Klein, vice president of human resources at Bemis Manufacturing Co., Christine Loose, vice president of Lodging and wellness at Kohler, and Grant Pauly, founder and brewmaster at 3 Sheeps Brewing Co.

The morning will conclude with breakout sessions, including:

Mark Behl, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Froedtert Health, will share health care trends impacting businesses, including how consumerism, digital health and new models of care delivery will change health care.

Katie Baer, executive director of the United Way of Sheboygan County, will discuss mental health services and provide an opportunity to brainstorm areas for growth.

Gina Covelli, director of community impact at the United Way of Sheboygan County, and Colleen Steinbruecker, executive director of Family Connections Inc., will present on the childcare challenges and barriers facing employees in Sheboygan County.

Borgen, Brian Doudna, executive director of SCEDC, and Jamie Schramm, campus executive officer of the UW-Green Bay, Sheboygan Campus, will talk about support services and future programing needed to support the next generation of innovative companies and products.

The entire event is free to attend. Registration is required.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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