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New Business Alliance Hopes to Provide Alternative to Other Groups

After launching on Thursday, new statewide, nonprofit organization Wisconsin Business Alliance is seeking new members, and hopes to provide an alternative to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

Riding the momentum that is surrounding her with others’ voices, opinions, feedback, emails, voicemail and letters, Lori Compas is excited about the launch of the brand new Wisconsin Business Alliance.

I spoke with Compas on Friday, who will serve as executive director of the new alliance, and she does sound hoarse, and absolutely thrilled with the success of the launch.

On Thursday, the Stowell Associates hosted the Shorewood launch of this new organization, and Compas gave a half hour presentation to a room of about 12 small business owners curious to hear about the new organization.

With a logo reminiscent of UW-Madison, the new Wisconsin Business Alliance launched this week in three cities in Wisconsin: Shorewood, Janesville, and Madison. Compas attended all three, on the same day.

Set up as a 501c6 nonprofit membership organization, the WBA plans to grow its membership quickly, set an agenda, hire a lobbyist and play ball with the other business organizations in Madison by the time the snow starts to fall.

Membership rates are on a sliding scale and anyone who joins becomes part of a nonpartisan network that is dedicated to finding out the needs of its constituents and also informing them of legislation that effects them.

“The other thing we have is speed,” said Compas. “We hope to bring to our organization a nimble, technological savvy that allows members to stay on top of issues as advocates and business people. Some have worried we may be divisive if we hire lobbyists and set agenda. To the contrary,” says Compas, “we plan to be effective. Providing clear and helpful representation of our members is why we developed the organization in the first place.”

The group offers business people an alternative to the existing business member organizations in the state, like the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, or the WMC.

“We were hearing that many business owners were not actually being represented, and we’d like to offer them an alternative,” she said.

For now, Compas says they will take three months to raise awareness, then focus on agenda and determining the goals for 2013. The website, Facebook page, and media presence will show newcomers, others who have also come to check out this new idea, and will share information about the early charter members and their concerns and perspectives, feelings, community and what they want for the future.    

"It may be that our priority coming out of this first launch will be healthcare, but we'll pick our one or two issues and represent our organization well," she said. "We are not going to 2013 with a huge agenda, pretending to be a 20-year organization. We want to be poised and ready for what’s next."

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