Twenty years ago, I was on paternity leave after the birth of our first child. I had just accepted an offer of a new job and I was nervous about the new venture. I would soon be taking the helm of the Grant County Economic Development Corporation. My first official day was December 2nd, 1999. I was already getting calls asking about projects and training, like the Community Leadership Alliance and whether I wanted to be a part of this new inaugural program on leadership training.
To step back a bit and to tell the story right, I was working in Madison, commuting daily from Boscobel to my job with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce where I worked with two economic development programs. I enjoyed the job and the people, but did not like the time commuting. My wife was expecting our first child and saw the employment ad in the paper for the Director of economic development. She asked if I should apply. Well, I did apply and was interviewed (somewhere in that time frame my daughter was born). On my last day of work before beginning paternity leave, I received a call from Dick Rogers, who chaired the hiring committee. He offered me the job. So I gave the Department of Commerce my notice and began my leave and prep for my new position at the same time.
My first day on the job, I had a meeting with the Fennimore economic development group at 7:00 a.m. That evening I had my corporation’s annual meeting in Platteville. I got home a bit after 11:00 p.m. that night. I recall that day as being a wild rush and at times, intimidating but enjoyable. That first day on the job was one of the longest that I would ever have in this job.
Those twenty years have flown by. Working with a huge number of businesses, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and everyday people truly make this job exciting. One of this job’s perks is that it is never the same day twice. I think back on the people I have met and worked with, some of which are no longer with us. The lessons and experience remains in my head and I pass that knowledge along. Twenty years is a long time in the economic development realm. Rarely do you see a person lasting that long in one position. The corporation was founded in 1986 with the first director hired in 1987. I am the third to hold this position. It is remarkable for a county economic development corporation to have only 3 directors in 30+ years.
On December 4th Grant County EDC will have its annual board meeting in Kieler, at 6:00 p.m. Tim Jacobson will be our keynote speaker and will discuss the Decoding the Driftless film series. I look forward to adding new memories with new and familiar faces. I may even bring my daughter, who is a sophomore at U.W. Platteville, along to embarrass. Thanks to all who have supported economic development in our communities and county.
Ron Brisbois, Executive Director – GCEDC