members of the business and academic community enjoyed business breakfast

MBU Hosts 8th Annual Economic Business Breakfast

On Friday, February 21, 2020, Maranatha Baptist University hosted the 8th annual Watertown Economic Business Breakfast, “Made in Watertown”, with more than 300 in attendance.  Guest speakers challenged members of the business and education community in Watertown to consider technological innovations and talent recruiting when planning for the workforce of tomorrow.

Mr. Steve Board opened the breakfast by welcoming nearly 300 guests from community businesses and the Watertown Unified School District before recognizing Scott Huedepohl, the former president of Town and Country Bank, and the man behind the idea for the economic business breakfast.

Bringing Business and Education Together

Watertown Unified School district’s superintendent Cassandra Schug then spoke about initiatives within the school district that are preparing students for careers within the community.

Schug emphasized the desire within the school community to build bridges with local industries that allow students the education and experience they need to make the right step in their career after high school, whether that is further education or a position in the workforce.

Mayor Emily McFarland affirmed Schug’s comments by sharing initiatives in the Watertown community already in motion that will connect the classroom to the business community and empower teachers to talk about business as well. Mayor McFarland says, “Students can have a wonderful, successful career right here in Watertown.”

Innovating with Technology

After these introductory speeches, guest speakers from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Jela Trask —  (Key Business Liason) and Rebecca Deschane (Talent Initiatives Director) presented information and ideas to both educators and business professionals about the future of the workforce, integrated rapidly growing technology to empower employees, and ways to retain and recruit talented people in Wisconsin.

Jela Trask talked about integrating technology to the betterment of local Wisconsin businesses. Because of Wisconsin’s thriving business economy, international businesses are choosing the state to set up North American Headquarters. However, international businesses must connect with local manufacturers and suppliers. WEDC is working to connect residential suppliers and mid-level manufacturers with those opportunities.

Trends in manufacturing and logistics have presented a need for cyber security compliance and automation integration. “Automation is a friend, not an enemy,” Trask said while emphasizing the need for both to work in tandem not against each other. Instead of integrating technology and automation without a plan, technology and talent should complement each other.

Recruiting Talent in Wisconsin and Beyond

Following Trask’s remarks, Rebecca Deschane gave practical ideas for retaining and recruiting talent into Wisconsin. Unemployment rates in Wisconsin are the lowest they have ever been, but this encouraging statistic represents a problem for employers. There aren’t enough people to fill the positions available.

While this is a good problem to have, WEDC is creating Talent Marketing Initiatives that showcase the career and lifestyle opportunities that exist in Wisconsin. The workforce of tomorrow is looking for more than simply a job. They are concerned about cost of living and quality of life.

Through story marketing about work and life in Wisconsin, businesses can attract young residents as well as out of state job hunters to available positions. By increasing the talent pool, Wisconsin industry can continue the trajectory of growth that has been building for several years.

Building Bridges Initiative

Following the breakfast, attendees were invited to join workshops presented by local business representatives describing their business needs today and into the foreseeable future. Great feedback occurred as the business representatives and WUSD faculty and staff had an opportunity to speak directly with these individuals about their needs.

The next MBU breakfast is scheduled for April 7, 2020 when Chris Darling, Sr. Vice President of Finance for UPS will present.  Register at