New Statewide Initiative Aims to Attract, Retain Young Professionals

WEDC, local organizations join forces to promote Wisconsin as a great place for young professionals to work and live

MADISON, WI. Feb. 26, 2015 – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is teaming up with young professional organizations throughout the state on a new initiative aimed at developing ways to attract and retain young talent in Wisconsin.

The effort marks the first time these organizations have worked together to develop a cohesive strategy to promote Wisconsin as a great place for young adults to work and live.

“We have heard from companies and our economic development partners around the state that attracting and retaining young professionals is a top concern for businesses,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and COO of WEDC. “WEDC is pleased to be able to work with the local organizations to develop ways to inspire young talent to move or stay here.”

“There are numerous organizations in Wisconsin connecting with young professionals so they can be engaged with their community, have access to professional development activities as well as build their network through social interactions,” said Angela Damiani, president of NEWaukee, the young professionals organization in Milwaukee. “However, there is no central platform that regularly allows the leaders from these local organizations to meet and share ideas with each other. Our goal here is to fill that void.”

The initiative will be launched with the first-ever statewide Young Professionals Week in April. Organizations from Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Appleton, Kenosha and Wausau will host more than 85 events geared toward young professionals throughout YPWeek, which runs from April 11 to 18. The week will kick off in Wausau on Sunday, April 11, and will conclude in Green Bay on Sunday, April 18.. For more information on YPWeek Wisconsin, visit www.ypweek.com.

The diverse listing of events includes neighborhood bus tours in Milwaukee, a cooking demonstration in Kenosha, and panel discussions on issues like education, personal branding and women in leadership.

Another highlight of YPWeek is the 2015 Bubbler Awards, which recognizes Wisconsin’s best places to work for young professionals. Employees are encouraged to nominate their workplace by the March 25 deadline. Winning companies will be recognized at an April 11 awards ceremony in Wausau. For more details and to nominate a workplace, visit www.ypweek.com.

YPWeek Wisconsin is modeled after a program that NEWaukee started in 2012 to provide a weeklong series of events focusing on discovery, adventure and meaningful conversations about the issues that matter to young professionals in the area.

Since then, YPWeek has engaged the millennial workforce in activities and experiences that are important to them while educating their employers on the important role these functions play in retaining their workforce. The program has grown from 21 events and 1,100 participants in 2012 to 34 events and 4,000 participants in 2014.

Because of that success, WEDC has engaged NEWaukee to grow and replicate this model on a statewide basis and to assist organizations in other cities with hosting their own YPWeek events. NEWaukee’s team will work closely with those organizations to design a series of events that will showcase the cultural assets and leadership of each city. NEWaukee also will provide each organization with consulting services to ensure continuity of the branding campaign across the state.

While much attention will be focused on the events held throughout the week, YPWeek Wisconsin is about establishing a framework for existing and emerging young professionals throughout the state to collaborate and brand Wisconsin as a work-place destination for Millennials.

In addition to YPWeek Wisconsin, WEDC will continue to work with those organizations to develop other strategies to help attract and retain young professionals. Those efforts are expected to include developing ways to integrate young professionals into their communities; enlisting university alumni groups in recruitment and attraction efforts; improving the perception of what Wisconsin has to offer young professionals; and helping businesses understand the value of using young professional organizations for attraction and retention programs.

“This is a national issue, and we are pleased to help build a collaborative, statewide effort to engage young talent,” Braun said. “We believe this first-of-its kind initiative will position Wisconsin as a national leader in millennial engagement, dynamic workforce and leadership development, and help establish the state as an ideal workplace destination for young workers.”

In addition to NEWaukee, other YPWeek participating organizations include:

  • Madison: Magnet, Connect Madison, United Way of Dane County, Emerging Leadership Board, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals and Middleton Chamber of Commerce
  • Green Bay: Current
  • Appleton: Pulse Young Professionals
  • Wausau: E3 Young Professionals
  • Kenosha: Y-Link