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News & Press: WEDC Corner

January 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Wisconsin companies invited to explore international business growth in Canada

WEDC trade venture targets companies seeking to start or expand their exports


The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is leading a global trade venture to Canada from April 30 to May 5, 2017, with stops in Toronto and Montreal.

As a large, advanced economy with well-developed infrastructure, Canada is an ideal first market for new-to-export companies and one that seeks innovative, advanced technology product and service solutions. In Canada, Wisconsin companies will find a friendly market with many potential buyers for their products and services, especially if they offer innovations that solve problems for companies in their respective sectors.

Canada is a highly receptive, open and transparent market for U.S. products and services, with Canadians spending more than 60 percent of their disposable income on U.S. goods and services. In 2015, U.S. exports to Canada were equal to U.S. exports to China, Japan, the UK and Germany combined. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a common language, cultural similarities and geographic proximity also ease the path for U.S. exports to Canada. Thus, Canada represents a strong opportunity market for Wisconsin exporters across all sectors.

“Through global trade ventures and the assistance of WEDC’s global network, we take the mystery out of exporting and help provide a clear path for Wisconsin companies to grow their sales in international markets,” said Katy Sinnott, WEDC vice president of international business development.

In each city, participants will be scheduled for customized one-on-one meetings with prospective partners in the market. These partners are pre-qualified for each participating company based on specific qualifications and criteria that suit the company’s needs. Each participant in the global trade venture will also receive market intelligence specific to his or her company, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing the company’s product or service into the Canadian market. With logistics and scheduling handled for them, participating companies can focus on business.

The fee for this program is $1,800, which covers market research and one-on-one appointments, transportation to business meetings, hotel accommodations for the duration of the program and some group meals.

The program registration deadline is March 6, 2017. For more information, visit



WEDC awards 11 grants to support entrepreneurship programs across Wisconsin

Nearly $500,000 in grants to help local, regional initiatives for startups

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced that 11 organizations have been awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to help develop or expand innovative programs aimed at advancing the climate for entrepreneurship throughout the state.

The grants are being awarded as part of WEDC’s new Entrepreneurship Support pilot program and will help fund activities such as the promotion of entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial education, mentorship and training; and business development and financial services.

“Much of the economic growth the state has experienced over the last six years is a result of the efforts of the state’s entrepreneurs as they develop innovative products and services to meet the changing demands of their customers,” said Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who joined WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan in announcing the grants on Tuesday, January 24. “These grants will enable organizations throughout the state to provide more resources to support their local entrepreneurial community.”

“Economic development is most effective when it is driven from a local or regional level,” Hogan said. “Through this program, we are supporting local and regional organizations that understand the unique needs of their communities and have developed innovative strategies to respond to those needs.”

The grant recipients are:

  • Center for Enterprise Development Inc., Fond du Lac, ($40,000) will create a milestone-based certification and grant program for Fond du Lac County entrepreneurs completing key business development steps.
  • Couleecap Inc., La Crosse, ($53,676) will provide a nine-week entrepreneurial development course for startups in La Crosse and Viroqua, support Viroqua Chamber Main Street’s “Pop Up Shop” program, and train additional course facilitators to expand the capacity for entrepreneurship support in the region.
  • Indianhead Community Action Agency, Ladysmith, ($43,646) will provide technical assistance and small loans to clients in two additional counties, and will expand its Small Business Academy for entrepreneurs.
  • Janesville Innovation Inc., Janesville, ($66,062) will develop a collaborative and coordinated coalition to serve entrepreneurs and accelerate business growth in Rock County.
  • Milwaukee 7, Milwaukee, ($60,000) will support the efforts of numerous project collaborators representing entrepreneurs, support organizations and academia to establish a strategic and entrepreneurial development initiative for the Milwaukee region.
  • Nicolet Area Technical College, Rhinelander, ($27,000) will expand entrepreneurial training, mentorship and support in six northern Wisconsin counties.
  • Oconto County Economic Development Corporation, Oconto, ($25,000) will implement elements of an entrepreneurship support strategy that includes a mentor network and ongoing coaching.
  • UW-Madison Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, Madison, ($75,000) will increase the level and breadth of its no-cost services provided to entrepreneurs statewide, particularly in the emerging food and beverage sector.
  • UW-Stout Center for Innovation and Development, Menomonie, ($60,000) will fund a statewide program that provides inventors with an opportunity to have their ideas evaluated for feasibility and market potential.
  • Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Madison, ($15,000) will expand its UpStart program for minority and women’s entrepreneurship.
  • UWM Research Foundation, Milwaukee, ($33,000) will pilot an “I-Corps for Health” program to develop and support innovative health care ventures in Wisconsin.

While WEDC has a variety of programs to support the formation, development, growth and financing of technology-based and growth-oriented startup and early-stage businesses, the new initiative provides funding to organizations and communities whose efforts may not meet the eligibility criteria for existing programs.

WEDC received 32 applications for the program, which provides matching grants to nonprofit organizations and communities.

The program is the latest addition to WEDC’s suite of entrepreneurship resources, which includes support for startup accelerators, seed capital funds, investment tax credits and technology development loans. In addition, WEDC supports and engages an existing statewide network of partners that offers business training, mentorship and financing to aspiring entrepreneurs.

The grant announcement is one of many initiatives planned and executed by WEDC and its statewide economic development partners to promote Wisconsin’s business, career and lifestyle opportunities. One example is the recent launch of Think-Make-Happen In Wisconsin, which provides communities, companies, organizations and educators with a unified voice to celebrate Wisconsin’s legacy of ingenuity and success.

“Creating and expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs in Wisconsin will help us in our efforts to attract and retain top talent in Wisconsin,” Hogan said. “These grants reinforce the message that the state truly embraces innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit.”


Marketplace Governor’s Awards winners named
Top minority, woman and veteran-owned businesses recognized for their success at annual MARKETPLACE conference

Seven Wisconsin businesses received top honors in the 2016 Marketplace Governor’s Awards competition, which recognizes outstanding businesses owned by minorities, women and service-disabled veterans.

The awards were presented by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) at the MARKETPLACE 2016, the Governor’s Conference on Minority Business Development, which was held in December at the Potawatomi Hotel and Conference Center in Milwaukee. WEDC organized and hosted the conference in partnership with public and private organizations that support the development of diverse businesses.

The Outstanding Business Awards recognized businesses that show overall business excellence in sales, product, customer relations, employment and management. The Rising Star Awards were given to businesses operating less than five years that have demonstrated strong growth potential.

Awards were given to minority-owned business enterprises (MBE), women-owned business enterprises (WBE) and service-disabled veteran businesses (DVB).

The winners for Outstanding Large Business Award were:

  • RAMS Contracting LTD of Lannon, which offers contracting services throughout southeastern Wisconsin, including commercial excavating, GPS-controlled site grading demolition, dump truck services and snow plowing services (MBE); and
  • hare Corporation of Milwaukee, a nationwide manufacturer and distributor of more than 600 specialty chemicals and a distributor of hardware and welding supplies (WBE).

The winners of the Outstanding Small Business Awards were:

  • M Squared Engineering LLC of Cedarburg, a full-service civil engineering and consulting firm with offices in Wisconsin and Illinois providing civil engineering services to government and private sector clients (MBE);
  • The GEO Group Corp. of Madison, which offers translation, interpreting, desktop publishing, website localization, audio/video production and technical writing services (WBE); and
  • Panacea Group LLC of Seymour, a veteran-owned business providing general contracting, design/build, new construction, renovation/remodeling and quad-axle dump truck hauling services (DVB).

The winners of the Rising Star Awards were:

  • Maldonado and Morgan LLC of Milwaukee, which provides marketing, advertising, animation, branding, illustration, website design and development, video production, SEO/SEM, copywriting and public relations services (MBE); and
  • Wisconsin Interstate Contracting LLC of Merrill, which provides erosion and sedimentation control, site stabilization and site restoration services (WBE).

WEDC received more than 100 nominations for businesses of all sizes and from a diverse range of industries.

More than 600 people attended the 35th annual MARKETPLACE, which is the premier statewide business capacity building conference of the year for minority, woman and veteran-owned businesses looking to do business with state, federal and local agencies as well as corporations. The conference provided opportunities for businesses to meet with potential buyers, identify funding sources and connect with business assistance resources while networking with other businesses. The event website,, will soon have pictures and video of the event along with descriptions of the awards and winners.

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