The funds will help other kinds of companies develop so the region, whose major employers include the military truck maker Oshkosh Corp., is “less susceptible to declines in defense spending.”

WEDC, the regional planning commission and other local partners are calling it Initiative 41, named after the area’s I-41 highway. Projects include boosting the “aerospace cluster” strategy, developing a branding strategy and helping start a nine-week program at UW-Oshkosh to help entrepreneurs.

The initiative started after a round of layoffs in 2012-13 at Oshkosh Corp. as defense spending declined; the groups say that decline affected the companies that supply the manufacturer and provide services to its employees.

“The entire region was impacted, and it was clear that there needed to be an effort to encourage economic diversification so that if something similar happened in the future, the impact would be significantly less,” said Eric Fowle, the executive director of the regional planning commission. “We hope to encourage that through Initiative 41.”

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