The pace of technological advancement in the 21st century, especially in electronics, has been faster than expected for many people. But for Juneau County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Terry Whipple, who says his last television was black and white, the new technology presents both an opportunity and a challenge.
Whipple said he has recently met with representatives from Foxconn, the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturing company moving to Wisconsin, at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development. “They had a lot of good to say about the state of Wisconsin,” Whipple said.
Whipple believes the jobs Foxconn’s arrival will create are likely to require specialized training. “The screens that they’ll be manufacturing… These are very highly automated plants, so all of these people are going to be trained,” Whipple said.
To help the local area benefit from the Foxconn deal, Whipple encouraged Juneau County manufacturers to list themselves on an online registry available to Foxconn. Whipple hoped Juneau County businesses would “get on that list.”
Whipple said disruptive technologies may require discussion on how to adapt for the future. Universal Basic Income “may not be the answer,” Whipple said. “But we have to look at different ways.”
In Whipple’s view, states that anticipate coming changes now and adjust accordingly will be ahead of those that don’t. “When people say ‘that’s far into the future,’ it isn’t, because it’s happening right now,” Whipple said.
One way to adjust for the future is to invest in entrepreneurship. Whipple said he is currently seeking a grant to double the size of the iLEAD charter school, which offers a flexible curriculum to offer students the ability focus on individual pursuits.
Mauston City Administrator Nathan Thiel gave an update on the Lake Decorah restoration project. The project is currently hoping to “reduce the sediment coming in” to the lake before it is dredged. “(We’re) hoping to do something similar to what Tomah did to Lake Tomah,” Thiel said.
Thiel described a recent conversation with the Department of Natural Resources as “more productive than we’ve had in a long time.”
Thiel said a chiropractic firm is coming to Mauston and the police station will be moving to a new location within city hall.
The Juneau County Economic Development Corporation will meet again at the Necedah Village Hall April 11.