Kleefisch promotes aviation and aerospace on tour
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch paid a visit to the New Richmond Regional Airport Wednesday, Feb. 7, as part of her statewide aviation and aerospace tour. The focus of the tour was to raise Wisconsin's profile as a destination for companies operating in the advanced manufacturing, aviation and aerospace industry cluster.
"There are a lot of people who don't realize that Wisconsin already has about 300 companies that operate in this industry cluster. A lot of people think of Wisconsin as an agriculture state or just a manufacturing state, but have not given a lot of credence to the idea that we do a ton in aviation and aerospace.
"What we have done in government is to kind of come in from behind and just buttressed and supported their efforts. You've seen it in our food and beverage cluster, where we are known now, not just for our brewing and cheese but so many different products. We're also really blazing trails in fresh water technology, energy, power and controls. Now we're investing in aviation and aerospace. There are ample opportunities and job prospects in this industry," said Kleefisch.
Kleefisch stopped in at Engineered Propulsion Systems, Inc. (EPS) where she had a chance to speak with Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Steven Weinzieri.
"I've been to EPS before. They are making significant progress which is really steps in the right direction. It's very impressive. They are trying to make that last funding connection to get over the top and they are close. Which is really wonderful because, as you know, we would love for them to turn into a major aviation manufacturer here in the Midwest and continue to build on Wisconsin's reputation for not just advanced manufacturing but also aviation aerospace," said Kleefisch.
As chairman of the Aerospace States Association, Kleefisch is looking to take advantage of the opportunity to attract not only entrepreneurs within the industry but also people to populate the workforce as companies begin to recognize Wisconsin's potential.
"I confess, we're looking to leverage that opportunity to attract a little attention to Wisconsin's expertise in advanced manufacturing and our capabilities in aviation and aerospace. Every year, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) event attracts hundreds of thousands of people who are interested specifically in general aviation but more broadly in the future of the aviation and aerospace industry in our state. We need to be taking advantage of marketing opportunities like that to attract more people to our state to add to our workforce but also entrepreneurs who might feel supported by an environment that is really encouraging aerospace and aviation," explained Kleefisch.
Kleefisch appreciates that providing an educated, capable workforce is essential to persuading companies to locate in Wisconsin in the future.
"We have folks here who know that in the next five, 10 and hopefully, 20 years, they will need to reach into the talent pipeline that is today's K-12 students for their next group of employees. If that group of today's students is not capable of doing the science, technology, engineering, and math, then they will be unable to make that workforce connection. That's one of the things we've got to have a statewide conversation about," said Kleefisch.
Kleefisch hopes that tours like this will encourage employers in the aviation aerospace cluster to be proactive in reaching out to their local schools to not only provide resources and input into curriculum but also to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and technologists..
"The more we can encourage our employers, like we're doing today with our aviation aerospace tour across the state, to connect with their K-12 schools and offer for classes to come visit their manufacturing facilities, the better off we're going to be. We need to encourage the workforce of tomorrow to think about where they would like to soar into Wisconsin's economy of the future. But first we have to help people understand that this is an industry in our state that is really taking off,"said Kleefisch.