Innovation Center Stoughton will:
- Support the creation of new higher-wage jobs through innovation in agricultural technology, biomedical technology, energy efficiency technology, manufacturing technology, and other emerging sectors. Recent studies focused on Stoughton have shown that these types of technology and innovation jobs are also an important source of secondary jobs and local economic development – resulting in a local multiplier. One job created in these high technology sectors is associated with the creation of 4 to 5 additional jobs in the local goods and services economy.
- Support current employers and create new industry sectors, which will result in a more resilient, sustainable, and livable Stoughton-region. New businesses and jobs created in the innovation center indirectly create an atmosphere of inspiration for entrepreneurs of all ages.
- Minimize the workforce issue in our region and lay the foundation for long-term solutions in ways that are innovative, new, and needed.
Innovation Center Stoughton will be a space for residents to interact and learn of work opportunities, employers to connect and train new hires and current employees using state-of-the-art equipment, and those seeking work to meet employers, learn new skills, and try out potential jobs through experiential learning while securing credentials to demonstrate their new skills. We will use the Fab Lab as a model. SASD’s Fab Labs have grown and matured to the point of having demonstrated impact on those graduating with Fab Lab experience (nearly 4,000 people to date).(30) Employers know that students who have gone through Fab Lab programs are better employment candidates because they’ve developed in-demand skills and employers often contact the Fab Lab for help finding workers. Yet the Fab Lab/high school isn’t equipped to play match-maker to meet employers’ demand for workers. ICS will be an expansion of the Fab Lab model focused on addressing these workforce challenges, and thus better suited to this role.
ICS will offer micro-credentialing in partnership with Madison College’s Digital Credentials Institute. Digital credentialing utilizes technology to formally recognize and verify learning achievements and skills development. Employers are looking to skills-based credentials to find quality employment candidates, and young adults are using these instead of or even in addition to longer-term degree programs to showcase their knowledge and skills in a way that is more aligned with job requirements and much faster to acquire. We can look to similar innovation centers around the U.S. as examples.