Efforts under way to bring more industry to Dodge County

September 17, 2018

JUNEAU — The Dodge County population is expected to tick up only slightly over the next five years while income is projected to rise by more than 10 percent amid efforts to bring more workers and businesses into the county.

Dodge County entered into a five-year agreement with the Jefferson County Economic Development Consortium and Glacial Heritage Development Partnership in 2017.

According to the Household Income Profile from ESRI, a Geographic information system company, for Dodge County there are projections for slight increases. The 2018 population for Dodge County is 89,917 with an average income per family of $68,000. In 2023, they project 90,600 residents with an average household income of $75,400.

“As a general statement, manufacturing related business looking at the county for a new investment opportunity, will generally want to be in a location that offers access to the utilities they need to meet their productions demands, that offers good truck access and rail if it’s important to their business, and where they feel reasonably assured that they will be able to attract workers over the long haul,” Glacial Heritage Development Partnership President Victoria Pratt said.

Each business has its own model for success, but there are some similarities.

“Every business needing to make a brick and mortar investment looks to make that investment at the lowest cost possible,” Pratt said. “Beyond land/building prices, things like the cost and timeline for permitting also matter. “

Communities themselves have some say in what businesses come to the area.

“If your community wants more retail-type businesses, you can look to make certain locations more attractive for those types of investments. But the most important thing to remember about retail is, it follows rooftops,” Pratt said. “If your community’s household income levels are rising over time, your community may be able to attract retail. Some communities hire a consultant to perform a retail feasibility study that looks at the buying patterns of residents within a specific geographic area to determine whether or not retail outlets could actually sustain themselves in their community. “

The strategic initiative for the Glacial Heritage Development Partnership has four areas of focus. They are:

Grow businesses, capital investments and employment opportunities.Attract, develop and align talent.Grow the GHDP’s capacity to execute provisional economic development programs and services.Raise awareness of the area’s assets to attract business investments, talent and visitors with discretionary dollars.

“If the community has access to high load power, natural gas, is on a truck route, offers municipal water and sewer and has control of good buildable industrial locations, they should be marketing them through us,” Pratt said.

Workers and future workers have some options while looking for employment, but employable skills are a must.

“In the manufacturing realm and in today’s tight labor market, most of our employers will tell you that if a candidate shows up with a baseline understanding of the manufacturing world, can show up for work every day and perform, the employer can teach them the job skills necessary,” Pratt said.

Broadly stated, local employers continue to look to hire CNC operators, maintenance mechanics and people with skills that vary from welders to industrial design engineers.

“Workers who have a baseline knowledge of production software will become increasingly attractive to employers,” Pratt said. “And that baseline knowledge of a variety of software packages — from CRMs to SAP systems, crosses all industry sectors. “

Critical and creative thinking for problem solving will help workers to do their best, Pratt said.

“Educational success depends upon the ability to apply knowledge in novel situations,” Pratt said.

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