January 2011

Diane Hendricks
ABC Supply Company, Inc.

Mary Willmer-Sheedy
M&I Bank

David Cullen
J.P. Cullen & Sons

Lisha Coffey
Alliant Energy

Gerry Behan
Kerry Americas

Henry Knueppel
Regal-Beloit Corporation

Jane Blain-Gilbertson
Blain Supply, Inc.

Jim Fisher
The JBF Group

Jim Fitzgerald
The Fitzgerald Group

Joe Pregont
Prent Corporation

Paul Palmby
Seneca Foods Corporation

Richard Gruber
Mercy Health System

Rob Gerbitz
Hendricks Development Group

Ron Ochs
Janesville Foundation

Steve Eldred
First National Bank & Trust Co.

Tim McKevett
Beloit Health System

Tobin Ryan
Seidler Equity Partners

Tom Ptacin
Klobucar Construction Company


As 2011 kicks into full gear, we wanted to take a few moments and reflect upon Rock County 5.0's accomplishments. While many of these activities have been referenced within the media and/or conceptually articulated in Rock County 5.0's strategic work plan, this newsletter will provide more detail.

Without a doubt, the accomplishments to date - as well as those offerings out on the horizon - are reflective of the holistic alignment, leadership and support that continually fuel Rock County 5.0's mission. "One Vision, One Voice" is more than a tag-line: it's an understanding that the sum of our collective engagement is much more effective than our individual efforts.

While the initial fruits of our labor are producing incremental results, there is plenty of hard work remaining. Therefore, we encourage everyone to become an Ambassador of Optimism by supporting Rock County 5.0's economic repositioning and revitalization efforts.

Onward, forward and a sincere thank you to Rock County 5.0's Investors and its expanding volunteer network.

Business Retention & Expansion

While growing and strengthening Rock County's existing business base involves a multifaceted approach, its foundation derives from relationships. As a means to cultivate or enhance these relationships, three key projects were launched.

This past April, nearly 100 invididuals - representing various public and private sector enterprises - participated in the Rock County Day at the Capitol. This outreach activity enabled Rock County to present a unified message to the County's Elected State Delegation, as well as other members of the Legislature. Many thanks to Forward Janesville's Government Relations Council for organizing this important event. Remember to reserve March 8th on your calendar for the 2011 Rock County Day at the Capital.

To facilitate Business-2-Business and enhance supply chain relationships, Rock County 5.0 released two interactive, online business directories. Compiled from both primary and secondary sources, these directories provide valuable contact and product/service information. Combined, the Manufacturing & Logistics Directory and Business-2-Business Service Provider Directory include listings canvassing approximately 1,000 Rock County area businesses.

The last project involves a comprehensive, countywide business connection or visitation program. With an ambitious goal of meeting with up to 100 Rock County firms, this initiative is designed to create a mechanism to enhance our overall retention / expansion efforts. By utilizing a proprietary data collection and analyses system (known as the Synchronist Business Information System), trends can be benchmarked against similar industries regionally, statewide or across the nation. More importantly, the system can flag and aggregate opportunities / threats.

If you have not participated in this visitation and information exchange yet, please let us know. The next newsletter edition will highlight a few of the more global or salient points captured from these visits.

Business & Investment Attraction

Since the economic pie continues to reshape itself, it is important to bring new business and investment into the area. While some may characterize these activities along the lines of big game hunting or fishing excursions, in reality this focus is about establishing strategic connections and then targeting the message accordingly. Essentially, demonstrating the value proposition; thereby, demonstrating the assets / opportunities that competitively distinguish Location A versus Location B.

Without exception, this activity is aligned with targeted industry clusters. For Rock County, these targeted industries include: Advanced & Green Manufacturing, Food Processing & Technology, Health Care, Logistics, Plastics and Value-Added Agriculture. As a means to connect with these targeted industries, Rock County 5.0 is developing and deploying a series of marketing materials. These materials, in turn, are reinforced by a host of outreach tactics that include, but are not limited to: electronic / video communications, phone solicitations, face-to-face connections, etc.    

For example, this past November Rock County 5.0 released a video featuring the area’s Food Processing & Technology industry cluster, which featured the industry and highlighted recognized brand names such as: Cargill, Hormel, Kerry and MacFarlane Pheasants. During the next 12-months, Rock County 5.0 will develop and distribute a series of these videos. Filming for the Logistics / Supply Chain video is currently underway.

In the next newsletter edition, we will profile the 2010 client / project activity.

Small Business & Entrepreneurship

To stimulate the role of entrepreneurship and enhance existing small businesses, Rock County 5.0 created its Accelerate Your Business Plan Contest. The Contest, which began on June 1st, required contestants to participate in a series of structured workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions.

During the October 21st Rock Regional Business Expo luncheon, Rock County 5.0 and Murphy Desmond S.C. recognized All Season Runner, FitPro Services, Local Vision TV, Street Cop Spanish Seminars and Tailgate Tasters as the 2010 Accelerate Your Business Plan Contest finalists. In addition to awarding the Contest’s grand prize package – valued at $25,0000 – to Local Vision TV, representatives surprised everyone by presenting a runner-up cash award to Street Cop Spanish Seminars.

Preparations for the 2011 Accelerate Your Business Plan Contest are in-progress; stay tuned.

In addition to the Contest, Rock County 5.0 teamed-up with the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center's (WISC) Customer Diversification Assessment (CDA) program to help small-to-medium sized manufacturers diversify their products / services. Each CDA includes a comprehensive report of a specific industry segment analysis, summaries of industry representative interviews and detailed information about specific (pre-qualified) companies who might potentially become new customers.

To date, six CDA's have been completed and the next newsletter edition will profile one of the program's participants.

Real Estate Positioning

Today's fast-paced business environment places a premium on accurate and timely information.  If a community can provide both, it automatically places itself into a competitive position. To address these issues, Rock County 5.0 identified two initial real estate projects.

The first project involved successfully completing - and subsequently earning - a rigorous, third-party real estate credential. Beloit’s Gateway Business Park and Janesville’s STH 11 Business Park were recently recognized as Wisconsin’s first and only officially designated shovel-ready industrial / distribution sites. As an indicator of barrier-free and speed-to-market processes, this shovel-ready designation is increasingly becoming the litmus test for participating in today’s global business development and investment arena. The Ady-Austin consulting group, which evaluated and reviewed over 200 site / community variables, conducted the Beloit and Janesville shovel-ready designation process.

For additional information about these shovel-ready sites, as well as other real estate offerings throughout the County, visit the “Available Properties” section online.

The second project involves developing a comprehensive inventory and transaction (sale and lease) database. While there are numerous existing databases (some public, some proprietary), few are complete or current. As property ownership and tenants change, so does the institutional knowledge. Appraisers, Brokers, Developers and property owners that assist with populating these databases will have access to these offerings. Meanwhile, an abbreviated version will be available online.

In the next newsletter edition, we hope to be in a position to offer a sampling of these databases.

Workforce Profiling

Rock County 5.0 and the Blackhawk Human Resource Association (BHRA) teamed-up this year to update a Salary & Benefits Survey. This survey provides a comprehensive listing of hourly wages, covering 72 specific occupational titles, as well as calculations for addressing "aged data". In addition to providing detailed salary data, employer benefits packages are profiled within the survey too.

The survey results represent data reported from 64 businesses / organizations, encompassing over 6,000 employees. For quality control and confidentiality purposes, a web-based survey was administered by a third-party human resources consulting firm. Participating businesses / organizations, as well as Rock County 5.0 Investors, will be receiving an electronic version of the full report - free of charge. Meanwhile, a truncated copy will be posted online and non-participating firms will have the option of paying a modest fee to receive the complete report.

A host of workforce development observations, trends, etc. will be featured within future newsletter editions.