It makes sense that the state University “where excellence and opportunity meet” is a major player and power involved in the new, community economic-development campaign flying under the banner “Opportunity Oshkosh.”

The Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce and local economic development agencies unveiled their “Opportunity Oshkosh” marketing campaign Nov. 29. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has joined a collaborative array of local and regional agencies and companies supporting the campaign and a number of economic-development initiatives coinciding with its launch.

“Among the many dynamic companies, small businesses, entrepreneurs and other organizations contributing our local economy, we know there is none like UW Oshkosh,” Chancellor Richard Wells said. “The economic impact our 1,700 faculty and staff members and 13,500 students have on the Oshkosh area, in the New North and around Wisconsin is staggering. We produce thousands of career-ready graduates. There are hundreds of millions of dollars of direct economic impact from our institution. We offer support for private enterprise every day. We look forward to supporting the Opportunity Oshkosh effort and sharing the story of how the state’s third-largest institution is both fuel and a catalyst for growth and quality of life in Oshkosh and this region.”

In the Nov. 29 morning kickoff presentation, Opportunity Oshkosh partners outlined the aims of the marketing campaign and a spectrum of community and economic development successes and initiatives enhancing Oshkosh’s standing as a major growth area in Wisconsin, the Midwest and the nation.

Below, see Chancellor Wells share some reflections on UW Oshkosh’s economic impact for Opportunity Oshkosh…

One of the key initiatives coinciding with the unveiling of the Opportunity Oshkosh campaign is UW Oshkosh’s collaborative launch of a new business accelerator program with city of Oshkosh economic development agencies. A planned, 20,000 square-foot facility will be the headquarters for not only budding businesses but a 13-week mentoring program giving the embryonic companies within access to $15,000 in seed money and UW Oshkosh students and faculty expertise.

Sponsors and partners in the endeavor stress the innovative accelerator project is more than an “incubator,” or a container for new businesses to take root. It is a means for “harnessing ideas and research at the University, translating it into new companies” and, in the process, enhancing the local economy and quality of life, said Elizabeth Hartmann, CEO of Chamco Inc., the city of Oshkosh’s industrial development agency.

“Accelerators are programs, not just buildings,” Hartman said during the Opportunity Oshkosh kickoff. “… The partnership with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is absolutely critical.”

The business accelerator is just one project on Opportunity Oshkosh’s agenda that involves UW Oshkosh. The University’s co-development of and support for the region’s first mechanical, electrical and environmental engineering technology degree program represents another huge skills-development power source for the regional and state economy. As does a new collaborative, Internet-based “Intern 2 Work” program developed with the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA).

This says nothing of UW Oshkosh’s track record as an Opportunity Oshkosh contributor.

During the Opportunity Oshkosh kickoff, Wells also outlined a number of additional UW Oshkosh achievements and benchmarks over the last decade that demonstrate the remarkable economic catalyst the institution represents, including:

  • The $315.9 million in campus construction projects between 2000 and 2013, including $159.6 million in state investment, $111.1 million in program revenue investment (generated by everything from residence hall fee to business service fee revenues) and $45.2 million in donor and University-private sector partnership investment.
  • Based on conservative estimates, the nearly 10,000 construction jobs generated by that grand total in state of Wisconsin, University and private-partner investment. That number is derived using a commonly-accepted multiplier, factoring that for every $1 million in construction spending, between 20 to 40 construction jobs are created.
  • Since 2000, UW Oshkosh’s dramatic growth in enrollment and increase in the annual number of degree-holding graduates, up 27 percent, from 1,700 to more than 2,150.
  • Nearly 3/4 of all UW Oshkosh 2010-11 degrees awarded – about 1,500 — were professional, career-ready or science, technology, engineering and math-based (STEM) baccalaureate degrees. These were in addition to the 600 UW Oshkosh-educated artists, communicators, social scientists and creative entrepreneurs helping drive our economy.
  • UW Oshkosh’s overall economic impact, estimated in a 2009 study to be approximately one-half-billion dollars a year.


Launch of the Opportunity Oshkosh campaign also coincides with the launch of the University of Wisconsin System’s “Knowledge Powers” efforts. The latter is a statewide marketing initiative casting a bright spotlight on the many ways the 26 campuses that comprise the UW System improve the state’s competitive edge by leveraging the state’s human capital, supporting business and industry and strengthening local communities.