WMC offers business re-opening plan customized to local realities

The Brillion News

Posted on April 24, 2020 @ 12:25 p.m.

MADISON - Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – the combined state chamber of commerce, manufacturers’ association and safety council – unveiled its Back to Business plan on Friday, April 24, the same day Gov. Tony Evers’ initial Safer at Home order expired. The Back to Business plan is designed to strategically open Wisconsin businesses based on a number of risk factors and offers employers a clear vision for when and how they can begin to operate, once again.


It was developed with input from a diverse group of stakeholders, including those in business, government and the medical community. Additionally, it draws on best practices and recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“We need to protect lives, but we also need to protect livelihoods,” said Kurt Bauer, WMC President & CEO. “A global health crisis has created an economic crisis, and it is time to fight back on both fronts. WMC’s Back to Business plan will provide a path for the state to reopen its economy, while still taking steps to protect the health of Wisconsinites.” Working with a number of partners, WMC developed a prototype that can be quickly adopted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The platform uses an algorithm to determine the risk for an individual business based on a number of factors:

  • Infection Rate in County of Operation

  • Population Density of County of Operation

  • Interactive Concentration (Based on NAICS Code Business Sector)

  • Health Care Capacity/Utilization in County of Operation

Companies would be given a risk factor of minimal, moderate or substantial based on an in-depth analysis of more than 300 NAICS codes and various data points from public health sources. The higher the risk, the more precautions businesses would be required to take to avoid further spread of COVID-19.

Precautions could include, but are not limited to, social distancing among employees and customers, operating at reduced capacity, increasing use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and stepping up cleaning procedures. The platform relies on readily available government health data. As public health conditions change, it will automatically dial-up or dial-down businesses’ safety requirements.

That approach is new to the many plans offered by other groups so far.

"It is not flipping a switch, it is turning a dial,” added Bauer. “We cannot just reopen the economy overnight, which is why this plan takes a tactical approach on a business to business and region to region basis. What is right for Milwaukee County might not be right for Vernon County or St. Croix County.” This plan calls for Wisconsin to get Back to Business on Monday, May 4, under the guidelines proposed.

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