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Local business leaders talk attracting millennials, veterans

With industries facing tough waters recruiting qualified employees, local business leaders gathered one morning at Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center to talk about how best to attract millennials and other talent pools.

What they learned is that while there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the key is to get their story out to workers about what their workplace, and their community, has to offer.

Organized by the Waukesha County Business Alliance, the event featured a panel discussion with industry experts, and was capped by a keynote address by Tricia Braun.

The chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Braun gave the gathering a glimpse into the agency’s new marketing campaign aimed at attracting and retaining Midwestern millennials, alumni from the state’s universities, and veterans.

The WEDC has already earmarked about $1 million of its own funds to target those groups in Chicago, but Gov. Scott Walker has called on lawmakers to approve another $6.8 million to expand those efforts to other Midwestern cities, like Detroit and Minneapolis.

 Setting your workplace apart

For Kelly Renz, president and CEO of The Novo Group, which helps industries with recruiting, the key to solving what she called the “gap in talent” is setting your workplace apart.

“I just read some statistics and some studies around technical talent, IT and engineering, and in five years there will be three jobs for every one with a person with that talent set,” said Renz, speaking during the panel discussion.

“As an organization if you are not differentiating yourself enough, making yourself unique enough to attract the talent that you need, you need to do it now.”

That effort doesn’t have to be high cost, but it should be high focus, Renz said, noting a great way to attract new blood is to embrace “unique employment deals” for new workers.

“We are not just talking about benefits, because, guess what? Companies have benefits. But what else is unique? What is the flexibility you offer? What are the learning and development programs you have? What are the mentoring capabilities that you offer? If you look at what millennials want, they want someone to invest in them,” she continued.

Gone are the days of posting a job, and just praying that qualified people will apply, Renz said, adding companies need to seek out skilled workers where they like to hang out.

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is known for its many fishing, canoeing, and camping opportunities. Trout fishing is also popular in Dunn County with the DNR continually stocking many of its streams, including Big Elk, Wilson, Muddy, Knight and Gilbert Creeks.