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Northeast Wisconsin Regional Economic Summit

CED, along with 24 other sponsors, hosted the northeast Wisconsin regional economic summit "Forward with our Children: Investing Early in our Future Workforce" in Wisconsin. Over 300 business, nonprofit, and civic leaders filled the Kress Center at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay to participate in this luncheon program, which was made possible with support from the Buffett Early Childhood Fund.

Keynote speaker, David Lawrence [play part 1] [play part 2], President, Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and retired Publisher, the Miami Herald stressed the importance of investing in the country's youngest children and shared examples of successful efforts to improve early childhood education in south Florida. Other national and state level speakers included Barbara Lawton [play video], Lieutenant Governor, State of Wisconsin; Charles Kolb [play video], President, Committee for Economic Development (CED); Michael Burke [play video], Program Director, Buffett Early Childhood Fund; and Roberta Gassman [play video], Secretary, WI Department of Workforce Development.

Local speakers included Daniel Nerad, Superintendent, Green Bay Area Public Schools; Paul Jadin, President, Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce; Gregg Hetue, President and CEO, Brown County United Way; and Ginny Riopelle, Chair, Green Bay Community Partners Committee.

Additional state and local speakers participated in two panel discussions. The first panel, "Why Early Childhood Should Be a Priority", consisted of Nan Brien [play part 1] [play part 2], Consultant, Southern Child Welfare Training Partnership; Elizabeth Burmaster [play video], State Superintendent, WI Department of Public Instruction; and Dennis Winters [play video], Chief Economic Advisor, WI Department of Workforce Development. Participants in the second panel, "Regional Business & Community Leaders Perspectives", were Nancy Armbrust [play video], Vice President of Education and Community Relations, Schreiber Foods; Jon Stellmacher [play video], Executive Vice President and Chief Admin. Officer, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; Mark Skogen [play part 1] [play part 2], President and CEO, Festival Foods; and George Kerwin [play part 1] [play part 2], President and CEO, Bellin Health Systems.

The summit galvanized people from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors to develop ways to work together to strengthen early education in their region. Evaluations completed by summit attendees indicated how impressed they were that the event brought together representatives of government, education, business, and the local community because as one attendee noted it will take a partnership between all these sectors "to make this work." Attendees left the summit charged and eager to be involved in local follow up activities.

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