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Centergy News
Updates from your regional economic development alliance
August, 2010- Vol 1, Issue 6
In This Issue
Broadband deployment across the region
Assistance to help manufacturers reach foreign markets
Tool to Match Alternative Energy Supply and Demand
Centergy's Alternative Energy Committee, comprised of industry leaders in the paper, pulp, food processing, agriculture, and higher education sectors, brought to light a concern about the lack of information on the availability of supply to produce alternative energy, primarily from the biomass arena. An example of a biomass project is when wood waste-wood pulp, tree bark, tree tops-is used to produce energy in the form of a fuel such as cellulosic ethanol. These same materials can also be used in the pulp/papermaking process, thus causing concern for increased supply demand and higher raw material costs.  

The Centergy region is rich with all the right bioenergy ingredients-wood, wood pulp, switch grass, food production waste, cow manure, paper mills, rail access, the Wisconsin Institute of Sustainable Technologies, Midwest Renewable Energy Association and higher education-all posed to propel the region as a major player in the bioenergy arena. This includes not only biomass, but biogas as well. Biogas is methane-rich gas that comes primarily from food production waste and cow manure.

To help us map out the alternative energy supply chain, Centergy partnered with the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative and the Energy Center of Wisconsin. In the works is an electronic database in which producers and suppliers can query possible energy outlets that may make economic sense for their respective operations.

Examples of such inquiries might be to find out the total woody biomass available within 100 miles of a particular paper mill, or to find out all wood manufacturing facilities that process aspen trees at a volume greater than 500 tons per year.

The intent of this project is to help our existing companies by expanding their supply chains, encouraging research and development into new product development, and launching new alternative energy companies in the region. Stay tuned for the progression and release of this database in the upcoming months.
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Barb FleisnerCentergy supports increased tactics to maintain the integrity of the Highway Trust Fund

One of Centergy's major areas of focus relates to supporting strong infrastructure throughout the region. This allows for the flow of workers and information to support a strong business environment.

Some initiatives include the support of highway funding to complete the US Highway 10 additional lane capacity project between Marshfield and Stevens Point, the reconstruction of Business 51 from Stevens Point to Plover, the Highway 34 bridge construction connecting Port Edwards and Wisconsin Rapids, Highway 13 upgrades between Marshfield and Highway 29, maintaining a strong regional airport, and increasing the broadband capacity throughout Central Wisconsin, to name a few.

With regard to supporting the funding necessary to keep our local road projects on target, Centergy has voiced concerns over the years of funding being transferred out of the Highway Trust Fund to balance the State Budget. This has been supported by both political parties over the years.

Recently, measures have been taken to increase the awareness of how our state budget is balanced.  Centergy maintains leadership in the Transportation Development Association (TDA).  This organization has gotten out in front of the transfers from the trust fund by forming a non-profit, non-partisan coalition called "Finding Forward."

The Finding Forward coalition is working with all 72 counties to encourage an advisory referendum on the November ballot which would ask voters to support a constitutional amendment so that these transfers from the Highway Trust Fund cannot occur. Many voters in the Centergy region will see this question when they go to the polls in early November. If counties across the state provide their citizens the opportunity to have their voices heard on whether Wisconsin should constitutionally protect its transportation user fees, then our state legislators will have a clear sense of what the public's wishes are on the subject.

We realize that there is a long road ahead to protect the Highway Trust Fund, but we need to start this journey by raising the voices of Wisconsin citizens so that we can continue to enjoy "real roads" which are safe and well maintained in the future.  

Click HERE for more information on this grass roots approach.

Barb Fleisner
Barb Fleisner
Executive Director
Volunteers sought for Broadband Deployment Study
Broadband graphicThe State of Wisconsin received a $1.7 million federal mapping grant to produce statewide accurate and verifiable data and maps of broadband availability according to the technical specifications and timelines set forth by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). 

To that end, the state, through the Public Service Commission, set up research committees based on regions. Within the Centergy region we will be working with UW Extension, private telecommunication providers, and community stakeholders to build out the regional technology planning teams to develop relevant local action strategies - including expanding computer ownership and Internet access programs funded by NTIA, along with the deployment of broadband in rural areas of the region. 

Due to the highly sophisticated nature of the research and evaluation, Centergy is seeking volunteers who have an IT background and would be willing to make sure that our region is not left behind. Please contact the Centergy office if you have an interest in participating. Read the full Executive Summary for Wisconsin's initial grant application.
Next generation manufacturing assistance
Globe GraphicFor today's manufacturers, opportunities for business growth and expansion increasingly are found outside the United States. Over the next decade, markets in Asia, Canada, Mexico and South America are projected to outpace domestic growth.  Roughly three quarters of world purchasing power and almost 9 percent of world consumers are outside America's borders. 

A growing number of small to midsize companies in the Centergy region have developed an export strategy and are profitably exporting products.  However, many small manufacturers don't access global markets simply because they don't know where to start.  

WMEP has teamed up with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce's Bureau of Export Development to launch ExporTech. This program gives manufacturing companies a customized actionable export strategy.  
Due to the customization required, only ten companies with up to three people from each organization can participate in the three training sessions scheduled for September 16, October 12 and November 10. At least one person from each organization must attend each session in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Sessions will cover topics such as where to focus the export strategy; how to accelerate the pace of international sales; and how to develop and implement an export growth plan.

In addition to the classroom instruction, the Wisconsin Department of Commerce has four Export Development Managers who will be assigned to each company to provide up to 7 hours of coaching between sessions.  They will provide resources, tear down roadblocks, and assist and manage the assignments between the meeting months. 

For more information on this program, please contact WMEP at www.wmep.org or call 1.877.856.8588.
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