By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and other state officials made a stop Friday, Aug. 24, at Schneider National to announce a $1.9 million marketing plan to attract military personnel and their families transitioning to civilian life to live and work in Wisconsin.
“The hope with this campaign is we’re going to bring a lot more veteran talent to Wisconsin…,” Kleefisch said. “I think one of the key factors in a veteran’s determination is having someone or something be there… The familiarity with the state, or even the personal relationship, is going to matter all that much more when we see veterans making decisions, like where they’re going to ship all of their belongings in that final move that the military will pay for.”
The campaign, designed to attract both current residents and non-residents to Wisconsin, is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.
It is part of the state’s new $6.8 million marketing campaign to address Wisconsin’s current and future workforce needs.
Kleefisch said the state’s job website, jobcenterofwisconsin.com, had 96,585 employment opportunities listed Aug. 24, but only 35,611 resumes of people looking for work.
“We’ve got a mismatch,” she said. “Especially when you consider that all of our folks on unemployment insurance are included in that resume total.”
Kleefisch said Wisconsin is the first and only state to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program and will be holding 14 events from now until next June at military bases in the United States and overseas, where state officials will meet one-on-one with service members to talk about what the state has to offer.
“We’ve condensed and we’ve dropped our income tax rates,” she said. “We kept our property taxes lower today than they were back in 2010… There is a veteran’s benefit that defrays property tax. On top of that, we know we’ve frozen tuition at the University of Wisconsin system of schools for six years. We’re going to freeze it for four more, but the Wisconsin GI Bill will even defray that cost… We have a very low unemployment rate, 2.9 percent. If you come to our state, and you have top talent like we know our veterans do, you’re not going to have any trouble at all finding employers who are very eager to pay you what you are worth.”
Other aspects of the marketing campaign will include a variety of paid media running through next June, additional search tools for veterans on state websites, a new blog targeting veterans transitioning to civilian life and distributing promotional materials for veterans at welcome centers, military history museums and other attractions.
Schneider National was touted during the campaign announcement as being “veteran-friendly” with 22 percent of its workforce having served in the military.
“As you heard, there is a specific veteran’s recruitment mechanism here at Schneider National, and I know of a number of other employers that do the same thing,” Kleefisch said. “Obviously, we spent a lot of time recently talking about Foxconn. Foxconn has a separate goal for just veteran hiring, because employers understand that veterans bring with them a very unique and special and important skill set. Employers are after that.”
Rob Reich, senior vice president of equipment, maintenance and driver development at Schneider, said the company has a long history of supporting the military and veterans.
“In fact, our founder, Al Schneider, was a member of the National Guard,” Reich said. “When Al first started the company, the first few people he hired were his fellow guardsmen. We’ve been following Al’s lead ever since.”
Reich, who noted he also served in the military, said Schneider recognizes veterans for their service, such as with establishing the pay rate of truck drivers by including their military experience.
“If you were a truck driver in the military for eight years, we’re going to hire you as an eight-year truck driver,” he said.