Essential/Non Business Update with WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes

“Essential/NonEssential” Workforce Explained Webinar with Missy Hughes Webinar

(Secretary, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) 

Below are notes from a webinar hosted by WMC with guest, WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes.

Overarching guidelines we heard:

There are gray areas of essential/non-essential. They will be trying to clarify them if you submit a form to WEDC via their website.  If you can safely, individually perform functions of your businesses in a way that does not “tax the system,” do so until clarification comes.

  • In other words, if you must, go anywhere than essential places (food, medicine, doctor), do so *individually*. Do not stop at 40 customers along the way. Limit your contact to those in your residence only (exception, essential visits to grocery stores, etc.). Wash your hands when enter and return from anywhere.

This is not martial law. No one will be stopping you to check your authorization to leave. No notes are required, yet.


  • If remote work can be done, then people should be doing it.
  • The list of essential business categories is on the following webpage and businesses can contact WEDC for a determination on here:
  • People do NOT need special documentation or permission to leave their home to go to work or do anything else
  • Busineses lacking clarity of essential/non-essential can file a form and WEDC will look at them in bulk and revise their listing. In the meantime, use this guideline.

April 24th expiration date and how it was determined

  • The determination of the date came from DHS based on the public health conversation and the science behind it
  • The strength with Wisconsin’s situation is that we have been able to see what other states and countries have done, to better inform our plans
  • It is too early to tell whether the Order could be lifted earlier than the April 24th date, things will depend on flattening the curve

How will this order be enforced?

  • Again, there are no special documents required to leave your home
  • Law enforcement has been informed on the parameters of the Order
  • People will not be stopped by law enforcement to see if they are approved to be out or not

Small Businesses

  • WEDC has been very focused on supporting small businesses since this began
  • They’ve deployed funding toward them, but right now WEDC is waiting to see what Congress and the state legislature will do

Other department’s actions

  • Other departments like DWD and DOT have been finding solutions to address the implications of the current situation and Order
  • Example: extension on dates like those of expired drivers licenses during this period

What do we do after Safer in Place?

  • WEDC is looking at the recovery and what businesses will need to open up again
  • Example: what is it going to take for a main street coffee shop to open after this? Buy milk. That needs cash.

What happens if part of a company is essential, but another part of the company is non-essential?

  • They do not have a clear answer on that
  • If the essential and non-essential parts are in different locations, it would be easier
  • Focus on keeping essential part open and going remote with the non-essential if possible

What should businesses do while they wait to hear back from WEDC on their designation or essential or non-essential?

  • Each business needs to make their own determination of if they’re closer to essential or non-essential until WEDC makes their determination
  • It is not a perfect process