Local businesses bring innovation problems to The Branch
A pair of local businesses, River Valley Bank and AROW Global, will present corporate innovation challenges to students involved in The Branch’s spring 2017 cohort. Church Mutual Insurance Company provided a pair of challenges to student teams in two previous cohorts. The Branch is a workforce development initiative introduced by the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce, Northcentral Technical College and Church Mutual earlier this year. This program is a skills accelerator which will build business and retain talent in central Wisconsin.
The program’s spring cohort is accepting student applications through Friday, Jan. 27. Student applications for the fall 2017 cohort are also accepted. Mentors for the program are also needed and can apply on The Branch’s website. The Branch hosted a Demo Day for its fall cohort on Friday, December 9 in the Information Technology Entrepreneurial Center (iTEC) at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau. The event included a presentation by student participants to Church Mutual’s leadership team and representatives from local businesses and colleges. The fall cohort tackled a corporate innovation project during the ten-week program and presented their solution at the event. Students in The Branch worked as a team on an innovation problem which challenged their ability to collaborate, communicate and think creatively. The event also included comments from representatives from the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce, Northcentral Technical College and Church Mutual.
“When you are out in the workforce, people will pay you big bucks to do what you did today,” Rich Poirier, President and CEO of Church Mutual told the students at the event, “You can walk into any employer and say ‘I was a consultant for Church Mutual Insurance Company, one of the premier insurance companies in the country. People just don’t get those opportunities that often.”
“I’ve learned so much along the way, working with the team, the instructors, the mentors and with Church Mutual. It’s something I’ll never forget.” said Seth Heffner, a student from Northcentral Technical College. “This is a fantastic program for northcentral Wisconsin.”
To view videos from Demo Day, visit The Branch’s YouTube channel.
“This is an opportunity, to be able to bring innovative thinking and talent into organizations.” said Dave Eckmann, President/CEO of the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce. “It gives an opportunity to the students to enter an environment where they can apply their classroom skills and transfer it into a real-world business setting.”
“We look forward to continued partnership within higher education to ensure the success of The Branch and engaging students in central and northern Wisconsin to keep our skilled workforce local.” said Chris Severson, dean of the school of business and community services at Northcentral Technical College.
Along with River Valley Bank and AROW Global, Church Mutual Insurance Company is a sponsor of the program and Westphal Staffing Inc a supporter. For more information or to register as a student or mentor, visit The Branch’s website. Businesses that are interested in becoming involved with the program can also register projects through the site or contact Renae Krings, talent development director at the Chamber, at [email protected] or 715-848-5942.