MADISON – Regional “listening sessions” have been scheduled in preparation for the Wisconsin Economic Summit, set for November 29-December 1 at the Midwest Express Center in Milwaukee under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin System and a number of statewide partners.

The listening sessions, hosted by members of regional committees, will give a wide range of individuals and groups an opportunity to make public comments about the future direction of Wisconsin’s economy. These comments, along with more than 40 “white papers” that are being written specifically for the summit, will form the basis of the discussion in Milwaukee. That discussion will focus on seven key topics:

  • Building quality jobs;
  • Enlarging venture capital investment;
  • Improving the regulatory climate;
  • Educating the workforce;
  • Improving Wisconsin’s fiscal future and entrepreneurial climate;
  • Enhancing key infrastructures; and
  • Building a distinctive brand/image to position Wisconsin as a technology and fast-growing jobs leader.

“Momentum for the summit is building,” said Jay Smith, president of the UW System Board of Regents. “I hear people all over the state talking about it, and a great deal of thought is going into the preparation of the listening sessions, the white papers, and the meeting itself. I think the end product is going to be a useful game plan for the new Wisconsin economy.”

Nationally recognized speakers have been invited to address the summit, which will be attended by Governor Thompson, legislative leaders, top Wisconsin CEOs, and community leaders. Among the planned outcomes is development of a collection of “Best Ideas for Wisconsin’s Future” that can help guide the state’s strategic economic planning.

“The summit is being held to open a dialogue about the economic future of Wisconsin,” said Katharine Lyall, president of the UW System. “We’re soliciting input from government, business, labor, higher education and the statewide community. From that, we hope to create a set of realistic goals — a `road map’ of Wisconsin’s path into the 21st century.”

Five regional committees are working now to develop input for the summit. They encompass Milwaukee, Madison, the Chippewa Valley, the Fox River Valley and Green Bay, and the rest of the state. The listening sessions will start on Monday, September 25 in Milwaukee and Friday, September 29 in Eau Claire and Stevens Point. Numerous additional sessions will follow during October at sites throughout Wisconsin.

The regional committees will announce their sessions through mailings and local news media. Persons wishing to speak or submit written comments should contact the regional committee. The chairs and contact numbers are:

  • Madison Area:
    Mark Bugher, Director, University Research Park, UW-Madison
    (608) 262-3677
  • Milwaukee/Southeast:
    Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, UW-Milwaukee
    (414) 229-4035
  • Chippewa Valley:
    Don Mash, Chancellor, UW-Eau Claire
    Charles Sorensen, Chancellor, UW-Stout
    (715) 838-9164 or (715) 836-2327
  • Fox Valley/Green Bay:
    Kathi Seifert, Senior Vice President, Kimberly Clark
    John Gilbert, CEO, Aid Association for Lutherans
    (920) 424-0424
  • Statewide:
    Kevin Reilly, Chancellor, UW-Extension
    (608) 262-9871

A summit registration form is now available on-line, along with other information, at Cost to attend the summit is $119 on or before October 31, and $149 thereafter. This fee includes several meals and a set of materials. Blocks of hotel rooms have been reserved for those who need them at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center and the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee. The special “Wisconsin Economic Summit” room rate is $89 per night.

The summit web site will feature electronic versions of all of the white papers, as well as other information as it is posted. Persons who do not have access to the web may register for the summit by calling (414) 227-3200 or 1-800-222-3623. Additional information about arrangements is available by calling (414) 227-3131. For information about the summit itself, call 1-800-442-6461.

The Executive Committee of the Wisconsin Economic Summit is as follows:

  • Jay Smith (co-chair), President UW System Board of Regents
  • Katharine Lyall (co-chair), President, UW System
  • Dean Amhaus, President, Forward Wisconsin
  • Brenda Blanchard, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Commerce
  • Mark Bugher, Director, University Research Park, UW-Madison
  • Jim Haney, President, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
  • Tom Hefty, President, Competitive Wisconsin
  • Don Kettl, Professor of Political Science, UW-Madison
  • Dick Leazer, Chair, Wisconsin Technology and Entrepreneurs Council
  • David Newby, President, Wisconsin AFL-CIO
  • Don Nichols, Professor of Economics, UW-Madison
  • Silas Nichols, President, ABB Flexible Automation
  • David Olien, Senior Vice President for Administration, UW System
  • John Torinus, CEO, Serigraph, Inc.
  • David J. Ward, President, Northstar Consulting
  • Linda Weimer, Vice President for University Relations, UW System


Kevin Boatright, UW System
(608) 263-2227