Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
October 2005
Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network - A Super Highway to Resources and Services

Consider the new Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network a super highway to resources and services to help businesses grow.

Launched June 1, WEN is designed to make it easier for Wisconsin's growing numbers of entrepreneurs to use services at Wisconsin universities, technical colleges, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. Network services include one-on-one business counseling, educational workshops, executive-level programs, peer learning, and help finding technologies and money to grow.

"Entrepreneurial activity has become the most important job growth engine of the economy," said Erica Kauten, managing director of WEN and state director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). "Through this network of assistance, entrepreneurs and small businesses get more information and stronger skills - a powerful combination that helps them better plan, manage and grow their businesses."

The network is seamless. For the first time, patenting and licensing expertise in the UW System is available to entrepreneurs outside the university system. And WEN's tracking tools make it easier to see which resources are most effective in helping businesses grow. In fact, the WEN Network is rapidly becoming a national model.

The network has four regional centers and a statewide system of local resource or intake centers. The intake centers refer potential high-growth clients to one of the regional centers, where skilled staff evaluate their management team, market size, competitive advantage and other factors.

A single client management system is used by all centers - intake or regional. This avoids duplication of services and repetition of the client's information. This single tracking system also allows staff to track the success of local economic development efforts, a capacity that has been lacking in Wisconsin.

Gov. Jim Doyle introduced the network in his "Grow Wisconsin" plan to promote entrepreneurship in Wisconsin. The new network is expected to assist more than 10,000 people and contribute more than $500 million to the state's economy in its first year of operation.

The network's website, www.wenportal.org, offers additional tools to entrepreneurs. The Resource Navigator, for example, helps entrepreneurs connect with local organizations for help. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation sponsored this tool.

For more information about WEN, visit www.wenportal.org, or call 608-263-0398. For assistance in starting a business, call the Business Answerline at 1-800-940-7232.

Intake centers are located in Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Kenosha, Racine, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Superior, Whitewater, Fennimore, Appleton, Beloit-Janesville, Waukesha, Portage, Marshfield, Rice Lake, Rhinelander, West Bend, Menomonie, Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau, Cleveland and Camp Douglas.

WEN's local services are hosted by outreach and intake centers, such as the 26 agriculture agents affiliated with the new Agricultural Innovation Center, a collaborative project of the University of Wisconsin-Extension; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

- Patricia Simms

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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