• WisBusiness

Sunday, June 7, 2015

MaryBeth Matzek: Director in place to helm new Oshkosh economic development organization


By MaryBeth Matzek
When Jason White took over as CEO of the brand new Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation or GO-EDC, he realized right away it wasn't your typical start-up organization. The organization was created in 2014 by business, community and education leaders looking to strengthen the region's economy.

"The group had the support that other organizations take years to get," says White, who came to Oshkosh from the Warren County Economic Development Corporation in Iowa where he served as executive director. "The leaders had a solid plan and knew what the organization's values were. They put in a lot of legwork."

While GO-EDC is still in its infancy, the idea for the organization had been in the works for years. Previously, economic development functions were scattered among different entities. Now, a single organization guides those efforts.

"The area really needed a single organization that brings all the players to the table to help businesses with their needs," White says.

Since Oshkosh has such a strong manufacturing base, White is building relationships with local employers to make sure they have what they need to be successful. "We need to take care of the businesses we have and nurture them," he says.

GO-EDC's other goal, of course, is to attract new businesses – and jobs -- to the region.

"We're mainly looking at businesses that help or serve the industries we have here," White says. "If a company is doing business with someone out of the area, is there a way we can provide that service locally, for example?"

The organization has a $2.1 million revolving loan fund set up with proceeds from recently closed city of Oshkosh TIF districts. Those funds will be used "as gap funding to help businesses grow and expand locally," White says.

Looking to the future, GO-EDC has four main objectives: increasing the number of aerospace related businesses (the city has a new aviation business park); strengthening the manufacturing sector; growing the number of information services businesses; and helping second-stage entrepreneurs.

"Some of that (helping entrepreneurs) could be through the revolving loan fund or working with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and their business accelerator," White says. "There are a lot of tools and resources we can use to help businesses."

White says GO-EDC is working with UW-Oshkosh, Fox Valley Technical College, the city, Winnebago County and the local chamber, among others, to help the area's economy grow. "We recognize that everyone has different resources they can bring to the table and our job is to coordinate those resources so when we hear of a possible lead on a new business, for example, we can put together an attractive, professional response and convince them to come to Oshkosh," he says. "For our current businesses, it's about what can we do to help them grow?"

White's enjoying the challenge of serving as the organization's first professional CEO and is out meeting as many people as possible. "We're a start-up and there's still a lot of work to do. We're out there connecting with businesses and our stakeholders and sharing our message."

Menasha Corp. buys Canadian packager

Menasha Corp. of Neenah purchased Portable Packaging Systems Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, for an undisclosed price.

The company will operate as part of Menasha Packaging Canada L.P., a subsidiary of Menasha Corp.

Like Menasha Packaging, Portable Packaging designs promotional packaging and displays for retailers and consumer packaged goods companies, and provides material sourcing, assembly, repacking, fulfillment and distribution services. Both companies also focus on the food, household and personal care markets, making the deal a good fit, says Jim Kotek, president and CEO of Menasha Corp.

"Acquiring an additional company in Canada that is well-aligned with our values and business model provides Menasha Packaging with additional capabilities and resources to meet the growing needs of CPG customers in North America," he says.

SBA honors

The Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation received the 2015 Regional SBA Women's Business Center Service Excellence Award. WWBIC was selected from SBA Women's Business Centers in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana. 

With locations in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and northwestern Wisconsin, the WWBIC helps low wealth individuals building assets and improve their self-sufficiency. Last year, the group worked with more than 980 businesses and made $5.8 more than $2 million in SBA lending, to small businesses.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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