Last week the Fox Cities played host to some very important visitors. The Fox Cities Regional Partnership, an initiative of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry focusing on economic development in the region, brought eight site selectors here for a three-day visit called a “familiarization tour.” Site selectors are individuals who work with companies nationally and world-wide as they consider either moving to a new location or expanding in a new location. They work with their clients’ site criteria and offer recommendations that will fulfill those specifications. If site selectors don’t know about your community and the assets it offers, you will not likely be among the potential sites for consideration.
So, “familiarizing” site selectors with an area known as the Fox Cities in Wisconsin was the focus of this visit. Over the course of just a few days these site selectors were able to experience the hospitality of area business and community leaders, tailgating and attending a Packer game at Lambeau Field, touring the various communities in the region, and hearing from several panels representing the business sector, public services, and community engagement.
There was one other significant experience that made up this visit. Fox Valley Technical College was asked to host the panel conversations which we held in the new Health Simulation and Technology Center, a lunch demonstration experience in the new Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre, and a tour of some of our manufacturing programs. I was honored to have the College be a major part of this site selector visit as I clearly know we have so much to offer area employers and prospective employers…customized educational programming, preparing people for jobs that are in high demand in this region, faculty who have worked in their respective industries, and labs that are equipped with technology that represents what one would find in leading, progressive workplaces.
I wasn’t able to attend the final report-out session as the team of eight site selectors wrapped up their experience and provided feedback to community leaders. Turns out though, that they were extremely complimentary of many things they found in the Fox Cities, particularly the unique asset that Fox Valley Technical College represents in this region. They suggested that, from an economic development perspective, the community is really under-marketing this asset that would prove very attractive to companies considering locating here. I couldn’t agree more.
It always amazes me that an organization like ours can have an incredible national reputation in numerous circles and yet, at times, be somewhat taken for granted locally. I guess the old adage, “you have to be from more than 50 miles away to be considered an expert,” applies here as well. I’ve had the experience of talking with company leaders in other parts of the country who would give their left arm to have a Fox Valley Tech in their backyard. We will need to just keep doing what we do best and, little by little, awaken community and business leaders to the asset this technical college really represents—right here, right now.