Initiative 41

The overarching goal of Initiative 41 is to create a NEW Way of Thinking by creating an atmosphere focused on a regional approach to economic collaboration; with an understanding by community, business and elected leaders that the region is interconnected and that success in one community is a success for all communities.

Initiative 41 was formed as a result of large-scale layoffs by Oshkosh Corporation in 2012-13 that impacted much of East Central and Northeast Wisconsin. The layoffs were a result of defense spending cuts which, in turn, created a ripple effect throughout the region as companies supporting Oshkosh Corporation also experienced significant economic hardship. This represented a negative economic impact of more than $91 million within the region.

It was recognized that to rebuild the economic health of the area, and to prevent a similar situation in the future no matter what industry was affected, there needed to be a formal effort to create greater economic diversity by increasing collaborative efforts among business, governments, community leaders, universities and technical colleges throughout the region.

To launch this effort, a team of community and business leaders from throughout the region applied for and received a grant from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (DoD-OEA) to:

  • Identify key industry clusters that pose similar risks
  • Align regional and economic workforce development strategies
  • Implement strategies that would diversify our economy and reduce the impact of future economic downturns.

This grant project was developed by the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC) in cooperation with numerous partners who are vested in the project outcomes and also bring their expertise and resources to the table in order to improve the overall economic ‘eco-system’ within the region. Initiative 41 involves entities including the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the City of Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, area technical colleges, Workforce Development Boards, city, county and regional Economic Development Corporations and Partnerships, the New North, Inc. and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP).

ECWRPC website