Wisconsin job creation agency launches new TV campaign

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Associated Press | January 6, 2014

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker's job creation agency is launching a television ad campaign designed to lure businesses from Minnesota and Illinois, underscoring yet again the intense jostling for jobs between the border states.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation officials said two 30-second ads will start running Monday on CNN, CNBC and Fox News in the Twin Cities, Chicago and Rockford. The $537,000 campaign is expected to last eight weeks.

Both ads feature shots of Milwaukee and Madison as well as the Fox River. The faces of a number of Wisconsin executives, including Kohler Co. President David Kohler and Schneider National Chief Executive Officer Christopher Lofgren, appear on the sides of buildings and railroad cars touting the state's workforce and how state government is business-friendly.

"If a company in Illinois, Minnesota or any other state is considering expanding or relocating, we want to make sure that Wisconsin is among the options being considered," WEDC Secretary and CEO Reed Hall said in a statement. "This campaign is designed to help get that message out to those who may not yet be familiar with all Wisconsin has to offer."

Walker, a Republican, has had a difficult time on the economic front. He's struggling to deliver on a campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term — the state added just 63,000 during his first two years in office — and the latest federal labor data shows Wisconsin is 37th in the nation in private-sector job growth. His efforts to coax businesses out of Illinois have angered Democrats in that state, including Gov. Pat Quinn.

Meanwhile, WEDC, the quasi-public agency Walker created to spearhead job creation, got off to a rough start; an audit last spring revealed the agency didn't consistently follow the law or its own policies during its first year, failed to adequately track loans and provided tax breaks to companies that didn't qualify.

The TV ads represent the agency's latest attempt to beef up marketing Wisconsin as a business destination. WEDC officials already have developed an "In Wisconsin" logo and placed ads in business magazines and online hoping to draw companies in. But the state has never tried television, WEDC officials said. They expect the ads will generate 23 million views and have set a goal of 2,030 ad-driven online and telephone inquiries.

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