Explore the Current State of the Wisconsin Economy

The 2020 WEDA Fall Conference will provide an in-depth chance for participants to explore the state of the Wisconsin economy and emerging trends. Discussions will focus on the changing business environment, challenges in our healthcare systems, trends in real estate, rural prosperity and agricultural opportunities across the state.

With safety as a priority, the WEDA Fall Conference is fully virtual, allowing participants to enjoy the all the benefits and educational opportunities of the conference from the comfort of their home or office.

The Fall Conference will give you in-depth insight into the impacts of the current economic environment and disruption, including:

  • The global perspective and diverse trends
  • The current state of the Wisconsin economy
  • Large employer perspectives
  • Impacts on corporate real estate and location decisions

We look forward to having you join us September 30 – October 2, 2020. CLICK HERE to register.

Thank you to Our Corporate Sponsors:

Featured Speaker Sponsor: Xcel Energy

Break Sponsor: Dairyland Power Cooperative


Conference keynote speaker John Manzella is a world-recognized speaker, author, and nationally syndicated columnist on global business, trade policy, labor, and the latest economic trends.

John Manzella

His valuable insight, analysis and strategic direction have been vital to many of the world’s largest corporations and associations preparing for the business, economic and political challenges ahead.

John’s views have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg, NPR, Newsday, Houston Chronicle, Denver Post, and other publications in China, Singapore, Mexico, and across the globe.

His books include Global America: Understanding Global and Economic Trends and How To Ensure Competitiveness, Grasping Globalization: It’s Impact and Your Corporate Response, and Mexico & NAFTA: The Real Impact, among others.

John is founder of the ManzellaReport.com, a premier source for global business and economic analysis, and Manzella Trade Communications, a public affairs, publishing and consulting firm.

Additionally, he was the Executive Director of goTRADE New York, an advocacy coalition sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Business Roundtable, and former President and CEO of World Trade Center BN.

COVID-19, Economic Trends, Global Trade and What’s Ahead 
John will discuss how COVID-19 and economic trends are impacting U.S. and world growth, while complexities with China, Canada, Mexico, and Europe are creating new risks. Combined with greater levels of volatility, new destructive technologies, the energy revolution, and critical issues involving skills, automation and immigration, these issues are shaping our future. What does this mean to your business? 

Ron Wirtz

Ron Wirtz is a Regional Outreach Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Ron’s primary responsibilities involve tracking current business conditions across the six-state Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, northwest Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana. Ron tracks activity in employment and wages – which are central to the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of promoting stable prices and maximum employment – along with construction, real estate, tourism and consumer spending. Part of Ron’s work includes extensive outreach to business and community leaders, and he gives frequent speeches on Ninth District regional economies. Ron is a contributor to the Beige Book, which is a report of current business conditions published by the Federal Reserve System every six weeks.

Previous to this position, Ron was the editor of the fedgazette, a regional business and economics journal published by the Minneapolis Fed. Here, he conducted in-depth research on such topics as labor markets and job growth, health care consolidation, the Bakken oil boom, income mobility, disability, public pensions, and many others.

The Current State of our Wisconsin Economy 
Ron will discuss the effects of COVID on the Wisconsin economy. He will discuss a variety of traditional and new economic metrics that will offer a real-time look at business conditions, including recent survey work that has helped identify and describe COVID’s impact on a regional basis.

Robert Hess

Robert Hess is a vice chairman of Newmark Knight Frank’s Global Corporate Services practice and is responsible for strategy development, quality assurance and business development for its consulting and industry/specialty group initiatives. He is a preeminent, sought-after service provider and respected leader in corporate location strategy and site selection across multiple industries and asset types in North America. He has conducted over 250 assignments on a global basis, including major CAPX projects in Asia, Europe and Mexico.

Aside from his facility location strategy core competencies, other strategy and operations experience includes supply chain planning, distribution network optimization, manufacturing rationalization and consolidation, relocation feasibility, strategic cost reduction, large capital investment program management, commercial and industrial site evaluation and due diligence methods, detailed labor market/workforce analysis and complex financial incentive negotiations.

Location Strategy & Real Estate Occupancy Post COVID-19 
Robert will discuss creative ways to renovate vacant buildings and bring in new business/industry, including multi-family, universities, etc.

CLICK HERE to review the Conference Agenda.




  • Conference Handouts will be posted on the WEDA website by September 30. This conference is approved for IEDC credits.
  • Watch this website for updated conference information
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