“The Governor’s Conference on Economic Development is Wisconsin Economic Development Association’s (WEDA’s) biggest education and networking event of the year”, according to the WEDA website. This year’s 2022 conference certainly delivered on that promise! With over 200 attendees, ample networking time, and fantastic educational sessions, it was certainly an event not to miss.
The conference opened with an address from Missy Hughes, WEDC Secretary and CEO, and the awards ceremony for the 2022 Andy Lisak Young Professional Awards and Organizational Excellence Awards. The energy continued to build with a great keynote by Stephanie Klett from VISIT Lake Geneva. The day continued with various breakouts and sessions to chose from in the areas of the workforce crisis, global supply chain, DEI, and tourism. The second day included a keynote by Mark Madrid from the US Small Business Association, and sessions in the high school education arena, the WEDA Capitol report, and an ending session with Titletown Tech.
Sprinkled throughout the conference, there was ample time to mingle with all of the attendees and presenters, including time between sessions, meals, and conference receptions. After so much virtual conversation over the last 2+ years, it was so wonderful to be able to meet some people I’ve never met face to face, shake their hand, and exchange ideas and information in energetic meetings with old friends and new ones too.
WEDA holds two conferences every year – their Best Practices Conference in the fall and the spring Governor’s Conference. I would encourage all WI Economic Development and Small Business Service providers to attend so you can connect with some of the best economic development minds in the state. I always leave these conferences feeling energetic and motivated, often with pages of notes of ideas, starred ‘to-do’ items and business cards of new connections I made with plans to follow up for a virtual or in person coffee so we can collaborate.
I started attending the WEDA conferences when I was first starting my economic development career in 2017 when I was the Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Stevens Point. I grew up in Wisconsin, but did not have many connections in this field. I found those conferences key to my professional development in this space. It certainly spurred my motivation and interest as I’m planning on sitting for the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC’s) Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and Entrepreneurship Development Professional (EDP) exams this fall and have been in this new Economic Development Role with the Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship since August of 2021.
If you haven’t attended these conferences before, I highly recommend you give them a shot. Dates will be released for the fall 2022 and spring 2023 conferences soon!
Want more information on WEDA? Visit their website. Any questions about my experience at these awesome conferences? Feel free to reach out to me and I’d love to chat about them: .
Economic Development Outreach Manager
UW System’s Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship