WAA, Competitive Wisconsin gain grant to launch employee recruitment partnership

Sept. 22, 2008

by Kate Dixon

A new partnership of the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) and Competitive Wisconsin Inc. (CWI) will encourage University of Wisconsin-Madison graduates to return to Wisconsin to live and work. The partnership is funded in part by a $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

The grant will support targeted marketing efforts to reverse the state's so-called "brain drain" and increase per capita income in the state by matching Wisconsin businesses, regional partnerships or early stage investment groups with UW-Madison alumni to explore employment, advancement or investment opportunities in Wisconsin.

"When UW alumni come back to the state to start a business, relocate their firm, or fill high-level vacant positions with existing Wisconsin companies, that's good news for all of Wisconsin," says Paula Bonner, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

WAA and Competitive Wisconsin surveyed more than 22,000 UW-Madison alumni between the ages of 22-55 in the five primary metropolitan markets where UW-Madison graduates go if they leave Wisconsin: Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. More than 2,600 UW-Madison alumni responded to the e-mail survey in August and September. Thrive co-funded the e-mail survey with the Department of Commerce.

More than 58 percent of respondents living in these five areas indicated they would consider moving back to Wisconsin to further their careers. Read more survey results here.

The partnership's initial efforts include hosting the first-ever Badger Career Expo on Thursday, Oct. 16, in Minneapolis, an opportunity for Wisconsin-area employers to connect with UW-Madison alumni who have specialized skills and are interested in relocating. Survey results show nearly 320 UW-Madison graduates living in Minnesota would consider moving back to Wisconsin.

"Competitive Wisconsin is pleased to co-sponsor with WAA and the Department of Commerce the first highly targeted effort to recruit high-wage earners back to Wisconsin," says Bill McCoshen, executive director of Competitive Wisconsin. "Our research clearly demonstrated an interest among a significant number of out-of-state UW alumni to come back to Wisconsin for the right opportunity. We believe CWI, WAA and Commerce can match Wisconsin companies with highly educated individuals to create more high-wage jobs in Wisconsin."

Hiring companies at the Badger Career Expo in the Twin Cities will include Epic Systems Corp., UW Hospital and Clinics, We Energies and many more. Future career expos in other U.S. cities are expected. Alumni and employers interested in the Minneapolis event can find more information here

"We expect these initiatives to bring highly sought-after grads back to our great state for the right career opportunities," Bonner says. "We know UW alumni are equipped with the world-class education that today's businesses need, and we'll do our part to remind UW grads about their fondest Badger memories. It's a privilege to work with Competitive Wisconsin and the Department of Commerce to help boost Wisconsin businesses and the state's economy."