Robin Vos Eupdate: Jobs for Racine County ~ May 21, 2010

Jobs for Racine County  RCEDC Annual Meeting Shows Racine County Leaders Committed to Economic Development

This week I attended the 27th annual meeting of the Racine County Economic Development Corporation(RCEDC). The meeting was held at the new Burlington Veterans Terrace, and I was so impressed to be among 300 people joining together to talk about how we could draw more jobs to the county. 

With such a high unemployment rate in Racine County, it is so important that we have a plan to bring in jobs, and RCEDC has that plan. In January 2010, the RCEDC completed a strategic planning process, in which I participated,  to further economic development in Racine County and focus on business recruitment, expansion and retention.

Their recruitment plan focuses on taking advantage of Racine's geographical location in the Chicago -Milwaukee Corridor.  During the last three years, 53% of the business prospects have originated from the Corridor. When recruiting businesses from this region, RCEDC plans to maintain an emphasis on advanced manufacturing, green industries, logistics, and distribution.

Their retention and expansion plan will revolve around a comprehensive business outreach program with an emphasis on manufacturing.  They also plan to launch a web-based business matchmaking program to encourage buying and selling of local products throughout the Milwaukee-Chicago Corridor. Additionally, the RCEDC plans to hold Next Generation Manufacturing workshops to enhance companies' global competitiveness.

The RCEDC has a proven track record of results that make them the best driver of economic development for Racine County.  In fact, their business development program, named DRIVE! has produced impressive results over the past 3 years.

  • They have assisted 42 companies in creating  553 new jobs and retaining 155 jobs.
  • RCEDC has recruited 10 new startup companies to Racine County.
  • The new jobs created have generated $27.2 million in annual wages.
  • They loaned $6.3 million in capital to 25 companies
  • The average wage paid to workers was $17 for all jobs created and retained
  • The RCEDC managed $12.3 million in local loan funds with $2.7 million available to companies for new projects.

Also, at the meeting, a few distinguished members of RCEDC were given awards for their outstanding service over the past year. 

Roger Caron was awarded the Anthony J. Dicastri Award for his multi-year commitment to the RCEDC and the community. Roger has served as President of RAMAC since 1982.  He also served on the RCEDC Board of Directors from 1985 through 1990 and on the RCEDC Marketing Committee from 1990 through 1994. 

Gil Bakke received the Leonard W. Ziolkowski Award. This award is presented to a current or formerpublic sector member who demonstrates a significant multi-year commitment to the community and the RCEDC. Gil served on the RCEDC Board of Directors from 1992 to 2000 and on the RCEDC Loan Committee from 1995 to 2006.  Mr. Bakke continues to serve on the Racine County Board.

Ron Jandura, with whom I'm pictured above, received the Sam Johnson Volunteer of the Year Award.  Ron was given this award for his multiple volunteer initiatives which have had significant impact on current and future development in Racine County. Ron has served as the Superintendent of theBurlington School District, as well as the Board of the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation (CATI) since 2003.  He also served on the Gateway Technical College Board from 2001 to 2009. 

This meeting was a reminder of what it really takes to grow jobs. It's not government policies and actions. In fact, many times, government drives economic development in the wrong direction. Job growth is really achieved when the private sector works together. I look forward to working with RCEDC and other leaders committed to growing our community in the future.