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Sun Prairie Economic Development Council Hosts "Wind Power Happy Hour"

May 29, 2009

The Sun Prairie Economic Development Council (EDC) hosted what was billed as a "Wind Power Happy Hour" on Thursday, May 21. The purpose of the event was for attendees to learn more about how area manufacturers and other private companies can be a part of the supply chain for wind turbine projects. More than 30 companies were represented, in addition to local governments, utility professionals, and renewable energy interest groups. The event was sponsored by Palmer Johnson Power Systems, Sun Prairie Water and Light, Wave Wind, LLC, WPPI Energy, and the Sun Prairie Economic Development Council.

The event kicked off with a presentation from Mr. Jerry Murphy, Executive Director for the New North, Inc., an 18 county regional partnership for economic development in Northeast Wisconsin. Mr. Murphy has led an effort by his organization to establish a Wind Energy Supply Chain Directory. The initiative, referred to as "Wisconsin Wind Works," is intended to 1) provide comprehensive solutions to the wind industry's needs, 2) connect the wind industry to capable vendors and suppliers, and 3) maximize connectivity within the industry cluster to encourage innovation and collaboration.

The directory was initiated with the idea that it would be limited to the geography of the New North region, but it was quickly determined that there was tremendous benefit to opening the directory to all qualified Wisconsin companies. The Wisconsin Wind Works Directory targets the following classifications of companies:

  • Construction and Installation
  • Distribution of Materials (Wholesale)
  • Education/Training
  • Manufacturer/Service
  • Manufacturer (Machinery and Equipment, Machining, Fabrication/Tooling, Metals – Foundries or Forges, Plastics and Composites, Other Manufacturing – Controls or Electrical
  • Other Services
  • Professional, Technical, and Scientific Services
  • Public Regulation/Administration
  • Real Estate Development/Project Management
  • Transportation, Logistics and Warehousing

Sun Prairie's interest in leading the effort to involve more local companies from Southern Wisconsin stemmed directly from the City's strategic planning efforts in 2008 where "Renewable Energy" was identified as a growing target sector for economic development. Shortly after recommended strategies were completed, the American Wind Energy Association and the New North hosted a Wind Energy Supply Chain conference in Appleton on March 31. City Economic Development Coordinator Neil Stechschulte attended the event, and was impressed by the support for building the industry. "Seeing a room full of 625 attendees at the Appleton meeting that included private sector companies, educators, environmentalists, interest groups, and utilities all in agreement that wind energy can help create jobs for Wisconsin was enough for me. I knew that we needed to have this same conversation in our part of the State." EDC President John Murray stated "This is just one example of how the EDC and the City are working together to implement the strategies for economic development adopted by the City earlier this year. This event was a huge success, and we are already looking forward on how to continue this initiative both this year and beyond." This potentially includes but is not limited to hosting a monthly networking event, and bringing in speakers on a quarterly basis.

Sun Prairie already had several companies seriously considering participation in the Wisconsin Wind Works Directory, including Palmer Johnson Power Systems (remanufacture of transmission parts), Wave Wind LLC (wind farm development), Marysville Marine (weatherproof hatches), JK Hackl (transportation), and Town and Country Electric (construction). According to a show of hands, at least a dozen other local and regional companies in attendance expressed an interest in being listed as part of the Directory. The Directory now exceeds 200 companies throughout Wisconsin.

First, it helped Wave Wind enhance its online marketing reach and provided a foundation for growing its business. Second, it supported Autonomous Mind Consulting, which is committed to providing business planning and marketing communications services to the many small businesses upon which the success of the renewable energy market depends.

Companies interested in learning more about the Wisconsin Wind Works Directory can contact Neil Stechschulte, Economic Development Coordinator at (608) 825-0894 or at nstechschulte@cityofsunprairie.com.

They can also contact the New North directly:

Christine Kaup
Market Research and Development Manager
New North, Inc.
(920) 336-3891, (920) 617-6073
ckaup@thenewnorth.com

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For more information about this topic, please contact Neil Stechschulte by calling 608-825- 0894, or e-mail nstechschulte@cityofsunprairie.com.

Additional Resources:

The New North, Inc.: http://www.thenewnorth.com/
American Wind Energy Association: http://www.awea.org/
Renew Wisconsin: http://www.renewwisconsin.org/