MaryBeth Matzek: Oshkosh suppliers slowly moving forward after Defense Department cuts

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion

It’s been just over a year since a coalition led by the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission outlined a strategy to deal with layoffs at Oshkosh Truck, one of the largest employers in eastern Wisconsin, and the domino effect those cuts would have at companies throughout the region.

With cuts in military spending the reason for Oshkosh Truck layoffs, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the planning commission and its partners $1.837 million in grants to help diversify the economy. The commission assembled a team including the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the city of Oshkosh, New North Inc. and others to look at ways to help the businesses who worked with Oshkosh Truck find new markets for their services.

The first two steps included putting together an economic diversification study and mapping the defense industry’s supply chain in the region. Connie Loden, senior project manager with New North Inc., a regional economic development corporation, led the mapping of companies within the region who worked with the defense industry, whether it was Oshkosh Truck or Marinette Marine. New North created its Defense Industry Supply Chain initiative to help companies look at new markets while diversifying their products and services.

A directory listing companies open to new markets is now being put together. It will include contact information and specifics about what the individual businesses can do.

Loden reached out to other markets and industries that would utilize the same skill sets as the defense industry, including the Milwaukee Water Council. The next step is bringing together those suppliers and the companies to share information and see how they may possibly work together at educational sessions this summer and fall.

Read the full column