|TOMMY G. THOMPSON Governor |
State of Wisconsin
For Immediate Release Feb. 11, 2000
|Contact:||Darrin Schmitz (608) 266-9806 |
Heidi Kafura (608) 264-6811
GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AWARD
First recipient will be Operation Fresh Start of Madison
MADISON Gov. Tommy G. Thompson today announced Operation Fresh Start of Madison as the first recipient of the Workforce Innovation Award (WIN), a new monthly award to recognize creative workforce development efforts in Wisconsin.
Gov. Thompson said the new WIN award will recognize Wisconsin businesses, organizations and individuals that have advanced out-of-the-box solutions to strengthen the states extraordinarily productive workforce. The announcement comes as a follow-up to the governors State of the State Address in which he highlighted changing demographics and other challenges facing Wisconsins future workforce.
"The WIN Award will forge strong new partnerships by recognizing businesses, organizations and individuals that have developed creative programs and outside-of-the-box solutions to strengthen Wisconsins workforce," Gov. Thompson said. "Recruiting, retaining and adapting to the changing economy will have a profound effect on the state in its efforts to build, expand and sustain a top-quality workforce."
Operation Fresh Start, a Madison-based program, has provided at-risk young people with education, employment skills and career direction for over 30 years. The program has helped 6,000 young people in Dane County attain self-sufficiency by involving them in the construction or major rehabilitation of homes that are then sold to low-income individuals and families.
Gov. Thompsons 1998 budget adjustment bill expanded the Operation Fresh Start concept through grants awarded to seven other communities, including Waushara, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac and Sawyer Counties, and the cities of Milwaukee, Portage and Wausau.
Gov. Thompson presented the first WIN award to Connie Ferris Bailey, executive director of Operation Fresh Start, who was on-hand in Eau Claire for the celebration of the completion of the first Western Dairyland Fresh Start housing project.
The Eau Claire program, which was established in 1999, is comprised of state, local, and public and private partnerships including Eau Claire County Housing Authority, U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Foundation, Western Wisconsin Private Industry Council, West Central Workforce Development Board, Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development, Eau Claire Leader Telegram and volunteers from DJ Concrete and Haas Brothers.
The Governors WIN award will be presented each month to organizations and individuals that significantly advance one or more of the following workforce development objectives:
Department of Workforce Development Secretary Linda Stewart said the state needs to concentrate its effort on increasing the skilled workforce, matching workers with jobs in the economy and creating partnerships with employers, educators and local government to promote solutions to face the workforce challenges.
Wisconsin has the third highest workforce participation rate in the country at 74.4 percent compared to the national rate of 67.1 percent. Strengthening the states workforce is critical to the future economic health of the state. In just 20 years, 73,000 residents will turn 18-years old, while 79,000 people will reach 65-years old.
"To continue to lead the nation in workforce development, state businesses will need to develop strategies to fully utilize the available people in the workforce," DWD Secretary Stewart said. "Organizations that can develop new strategies to help produce and maintain good jobs and a skilled workforce will help shape the future for our states citizens and communities."