The Employment Imperative: Tackling Workforce Challenges


If you’ve noticed challenges with hiring employees in the last few years, you are not alone. Businesses across the state of Wisconsin have struggled with recruitment and hiring in a wide range of industries, and a variety of environmental, historical, and economic factors have lead us to these challenges.

In this session, we’ll translate regional data into your day-to-day by understanding how long-term trends are impacting the current labor market and how local businesses are responding.

As part of the University of Wisconsin-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development, Matt Kures specializes in researching regional economic analysis, labor force, socioeconomic impact analysis, and industry sector competitiveness. For this presentation, Matt will focus on precipitating factors and impacts, such as: labor-force participation, employment by industry, population demographics and migration, automation/computerization, and more.

From there, we’ll hear from a panel of local business owners/managers to hear how they are experiencing and coping with hiring challenges across a variety of industries.


Schedule & location: 9:30-11:00 am CST live virtual event via Zoom

Date: March 16, 2023

Register Online Here

Fee: This course is being offered at no cost thanks to the generous support of our presenters.


Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the UW-Madison SBDC office at to request accommodations or to ask general questions about the SBDC, classes and consulting.


Matt Kures, Distinguished Community Development Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

Matt carries out the Wisconsin Idea by assisting communities and organizations through economic development policy evaluation, labor force research and regional competitiveness analysis. Matt has worked at the University of Wisconsin since 2001.  During this time he has authored numerous studies on Wisconsin’s economy and has made frequent presentations to local, regional and national audiences. Matt was a regular contributor to the Capitol Region Business Journal and his work is featured in numerous other business and economic development publications.  Matt was named to “Madison’s 40 Under 40” by In Business magazine.  In 2016, he received the Outstanding Specialist Award from UW-Extension’s Community, Natural Resource and Economic Development program.  Matt has a B.S. and an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Tony Trapp
Tony Trapp, CR, Owner, Tony Trapp Remodeling

Tony founded the company in 2002, after changing careers from the world of information technology and computer science to home repair and remodeling. Since then, the company has grown significantly and become an award-winning repair and remodeling company with Tony at the helm. Clients regularly rely on Tony to provide them with honest, creative and high-quality service and to walk them through each project. Tony is a Certified Remodeler and served as both President of NARI Madison and Chairman of the Board of NARI Madison. Read more about Tony in our SBDC Client Success Stories.

Kyle LaFond, Founder, American Provenance & Natural Contract Manufacturing

As a teacher, Kyle realized his students (and their parents) relied on products laden with harsh chemicals to mask the stench of body odor. This inspired him to create a project where he taught his students how to make personal care and cosmetic products using primarily household ingredients. This annual exercise provided an opportunity for Kyle to make his own products alongside his students. After several years of research and development, Kyle felt confident in the products he had made, and was ready to launch a business.

American Provenance officially launched on Memorial Day weekend in 2015. Kyle spent the early years on the road, selling his products to grocery stores, pharmacies, independent retailers, and specialty shops. His travel and persistence paid off, as American Provenance moved from his family farm to a larger, more industrial complex in 2018. Additionally, AP products can now be found on over 5,000 store shelves nationwide. Some notable retailers include Whole Foods, Hy-Vee, Giant Eagle, Raley’s, Redners, Lassen’s, Erewhon, Nugget Market, and Central Market. Online partners include Amazon, Target, Kroger, Walmart, Thrive Market and others.

During the course of the COVID pandemic, Kyle and his team launched a new venture called Natural Contract Manufacturing. This outsourced small-batch solution now provides manufacturing for nearly 20 other brands.

Aside from American Provenance and Natural Contract Manufacturing, Kyle has also invested in several other small businesses. His investments and involvements tend to focus on consumer packaged goods and Wisconsin heritage industries. Kyle has become an advocate and leading voice for rural businesses and the importance of building a diverse economy that includes manufacturing. He is very proud of his involvement with Landmark Creamery and 7 Acre Dairy, both of which are located in Paoli, Wisconsin.

Read more about Kyle and American Provenance in our SBDC Client Success Stories


Patricia & Jerod Wooldridge, Owner/Operators, Mariposa Learning Center (MLC)

Patricia and Jerod are the owner/operators of Mariposa Learning Center (MLC) in Fitchburg, WI. MLC operated as an in-home school for nine years before expanding to the Stoughton site in 2014 and to Fitchburg in 2020.  MLC became a nationally accredited program through the National Accreditation Commission in the Spring of 2017.

Patricia was born and raised in Mexico before immigrating to the U.S. with her family at the age of five. She has been working with children for over twenty-five years and is fluent in Spanish. Patricia graduated from California State University, San Marcos in 2001 with a degree in Psychology. After graduating, she worked with at-risk children as a mediator between families, teachers and community resources in San Diego, CA. She also mentored children in foster care during this time. Patricia is the mother of three and started her in-home child care shortly after moving to Wisconsin in 2005. She moved her in-home business to our previous Stoughton location in 2014 and now to our new facility in Fitchburg in 2020.

Jerod is a native of Wisconsin (Oregon) and has a B.S. in Chemistry. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over twenty years before leaving his latest role in May of 2022 to join Mariposa full-time. He has played an active role in the growth of the organization, handling the accounting, IT, benefits, etc. along the way. Although his role is more “behind the scenes” at the school, he and Patricia have worked closely together to continue the positive growth that has occurred since opening the new location in 2020.