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Northwest Wisconsin educators launch NorthWERD group

Northwest Wisconsin educators marked their commitment to support regional economic development through NorthWERD in a signing event at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College in Hayward..

(3/29/12): HAYWARD, Wis. – Northwest Wisconsin educators convened recently to launch a new consortium of regional educators called Northwest Wisconsin Educators for Regional Development or NorthWERD. Nine institutions in northwest Wisconsin formed NorthWERD to respond to the needs of regional developers and students, as well as identify regional economic trends and opportunities for graduates as they choose a career path. Educators marked their commitment to support regional economic development in a signing event at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College.

Guest speaker Linda Bartelt, executive director of the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA), welcomed NorthWERD and applauded its efforts to collaborate with one another and area businesses.

“I want to congratulate you on this ambitious plan and the goals you’ve set forth,” said Bartelt.

Bob Meyer, NorthWERD Chair and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College President, outlined the purpose and vision of NorthWERD before a crowd of educators and regional developers.

“We want to make sure that our programming responds to your needs,” said Meyer. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here – to allow the educational community to work closely in support of economic development and regional development.”

NorthWERD includes representatives from public, private and tribal higher learning institutions and agencies. The consortium comprises representatives from the Cooperative Educational Service Agency 12, Lac Courte Oreilles Community College, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Northcentral Technical College, Northland College, University of Wisconsin Colleges, University of Wisconsin-Barron County, and University of Wisconsin-Extension. Meyer said NorthWERD will work to leverage the core abilities of member institutions in support of regional development. In addition, NorthWERD members touched on what role educators may play in preparing college graduates to meet the needs of employers in a challenging and changing economy.

“If we hang our heads and say, ‘Life is tough,’ and do more with less, then we’re not going to be creative and meet the needs that are out there,” said Michael A. Miller, NorthWERD Vice-Chair and Northland College President. “This group of people is about determining what the region needs long-term … and how we can be healthy together.”

NorthWERD has outlined four focus areas that will help participating institutions be more responsive to economic development needs in order to promote healthier, sustainable communities. The consortium of educators will focus on responding to regional educational and economic development needs, assess existing research and gather additional data to pinpoint economic opportunities, provide career pathways to success and offer academic advising and assessment for parents and students.