On January 23 I attended a round-table discussion at the Northwestern Mutual Commons in downtown Milwaukee conducted by NEWaukee to learn more about the challenges businesses large and small in Southeastern Wisconsin are facing with talent attraction and retention.  Among the 60 attendees were representatives of large and small Milwaukee businesses and organizations such as, – Aurora, Kohls, Marcus Corp., NML, Kohler, Workforce Development, and more. Here is a quick summary:

  1. This issue is common to all businesses. Everyone is feeling the pain!
  2. NEWaukee conducted a study and found that Wisconsin’s image throughout the rest of the US with Young Professionals, ages 18-34, is becoming a problem. For example:
    • Safety and security – Milwaukee is not viewed as a safe place to live.
    • Beer, brats and cheese!
    • No tech jobs – lack of awareness of advanced manufacturing concepts and the use of automation.
    • It’s too cold!
    • I’ve heard of Summerfest, but what else is there to do there?


  3. We need to develop some strategies to clear up this image problem.
  4. Wisconsin’s population is not growing at a rate that will meet current and future employment needs.
  5. We must develop strategies to attract people from out of state to move here as well as retain a higher percentage of our high school and college graduates.

Locally, we know that our employers grow evermore frustrated with the challenges of finding talent. A recent informal survey conducted by the HADC found close to 400 open positions across the community. We’ve come to realize the we’re competing for talent with other communities in SE Wisconsin.

So what are peoples perceptions of Hartford? Do we even have an image – positive or negative? What can we do to improve our chances of winning the Talent Wars?

I’d like to know what your thoughts are on this very important topic. You can e-mail me at .