GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Hinterland Brewery and Restaurant was the setting for today's State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development round table with the Main Street Alliance focusing on the new federal funding to help businesses and job workers bounce back.
Specifically, discussions concerned Governor Evers' new $130 million grant to the state of Wisconsin, which offers three different grants: workforce innovation, worker advancement initiative, and worker connection program.
The round table featured local business owners, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and local college programs voicing their opinions about the current state of the workforce and challenges they've experienced post-pandemic. One of the big ones: staffing, as well as connecting the unemployed to businesses to fill those vacancies.
DWD secretary Amy Pechacwk said Wisconsin's current unemployment rate sits at 3.5%, whereas before the pandemic it was 3.2%. She expressed we are getting closer to those pre-pandemic numbers, and the state is far ahead of neighboring states working to recover.
Co-owner of Hinterland, Michelle Tressler, said the brewery and restaurant business is seeing vacancies in certain areas. Specifically, in the kitchen, whereas in the brewery, they are constantly receiving applications. Tressler said she is looking to hire long-term and to work with culinary institutions or schools to train and recruit.
"We want people to feel home here, and to feel part of our little Hinterland family," Tressler said.
Part of the hiring long-term is finding out what employees want, and Tressler notes she's seen a lot of businesses offer bonuses for employees.
“For us what we’re trying to do right now is focus on increasing wages overall, I think that’s the best approach," Tressler said. "But also really working on our corporate culture, finding out what the people need other than the paycheck. To learn on the job, to feel part of a community.”
As a local business owner, she likes to be part of these meetings to feel engaged and part of the discussion when it comes to the state. She said it's important to know about the economic developments in the region and state, as a whole. During today's discussion, she was excited to learn about the programs coming out of the state that target disabilities, veterans, and underemployed communities.