GREEN BAY, Wis. — First lady Jill Biden will visit Green Bay, Wis., on Friday to learn about apprenticeship programs for high school and college students.

It’s one of several initiatives in the Rail Yard Innovation District — an area in downtown Green Bay that’s focused on economic development. 

What You Need To Know

  • Jill Biden will visit Green Bay’s Rail Yard Innovation District for a roundtable discussion

  • Dozens of business and condos are housed in the Rail Yard District

  • Influx of companies into the Rail Yard District has helped the city grow its youth apprenticeship program

Brent Weycker is a partner and owner of the Rail Yard Innovation District. Weycker said a big goal his team has for the area is to bring all the historic warehouse buildings back to life.

“That involves kind of taking this turn of the century-old buildings and bringing technology and infrastructure to them, and allowing us to get people to work here and move their businesses here,” he said. “And just kind of redevelop this part of downtown of Green Bay.”

The 23 acres of the Rail Yard Innovation District sat mostly vacant for nearly 15 years. Weycker said his company has brought in over two dozen businesses and condominiums to the district.

“Now they’re functioning, usable buildings and they’re adding to the tax base and helping the downtown get more people down here,” Weycker said.

Eric Vanden Heuvel with the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce said this modernization of the historic Rail Yard District is helping to bring in a younger labor force.

“The work that we’re trying to lead at the chamber from a workforce development standpoint is finding innovative ways to help businesses meet the talent crisis and finding a program and a way to get high school students engaged in the workforce,” Vanden Heuvel said.

Vanden Heuvel said this influx of companies into the Rail Yard District has helped the city grow its youth apprenticeship program, too.

“So as recently as 2021, we were serving about 150 students in our region. And then this collaboration, and really, the ability to pull partners together, has helped us grow to over 1,100 students who are participating throughout northeastern Wisconsin,” Vanden Heuvel said.

Weycker said the key to attracting new businesses and spurring economic development is upgrading the technology.

“The big thing was to get the high-speed fiber here and now to fill up the buildings with tenants. A lot of these buildings are, frankly, getting occupied almost fully,” Weycker said.