Friday, February 2, 2007

Well City, Let’s Go!

If a committee I’ve recently joined is successful, here’s something you’ll be hearing a lot more about: Milwaukee’s Well City initiative. For now, I’ll just start with this post.

The Greater Milwaukee Committee and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce have come together to spearhead an initiative that could earn Milwaukee boasting rights as one of the healthiest cities in America. Right now we’re designing a marketing program that makes sure the initiative gains momentum.

Well City USA is a program developed by the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA), an organization dedicated to helping businesses lower health care costs by cutting the demand for health care services. We are trying to help Milwaukee join the nine cities nationwide that have received the Well City designation and the six cities with projects under way. We’ve already achieved the prerequisite that at least 20 companies covering a combined minimum of 52,000 employees must commit to meeting WELCOA’s Well Workplace certification criteria. We’re now awaiting approval on the recently submitted application for Milwaukee to enter Well City’s three-year certification period.

So why is all this worthwhile? We believe it’s essential not just for the sake of encouraging us all to live healthier lives (although that’s pretty worthy in itself), but for the economic health of the entire Milwaukee region.

For one thing, I’m sure you’re familiar with Milwaukee’s comparatively high health care costs. Reducing demand on the health care system through wellness programs is one way to lower those costs. In addition, healthier people make more productive employees. Finally, the Well City designation could do wonders for marketing our region and our companies—helping us all to recruit the healthy, talented and productive workers we need.

But first, businesses of all sizes have to get on board to make Well City happen in our town. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to act now by getting your company to commit to being a Well Workplace.

WELCOA is making it easy. It’s not that expensive. And the ROI can benefit your company, your people and our region as a whole.

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