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Wisconsin must find new way to do business

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Rep. Mike Sheridan
November 25, 2009

When Republic Airways announced it will establish a major airline hub in Milwaukee, generating 800 new jobs and saving another 800, it became the latest success story to be added to a lengthening list of businesses expanding in or moving to Wisconsin.


Days before, Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac wrapped up negotiations with the state that will secure 2,700 family-supporting jobs.


Similar stories are popping up all across Wisconsin. Digi-Star of Fort Atkinson, Fowler and Hammer of La Crosse, NeuroGenomeX of Madison, Best Biodiesel of Cashton, Extend Manufacturing of Schofield, and Seven Oaks Dairy of Kaukauna—they’re all growing in Wisconsin.


And Assembly Democrats’ new business-boosting incentives and worker training programs are partly responsible for this good news.


A&E Inc., a Racine-based toolmaker, was awarded state tax credits and recently announced it would bolster its operations, retaining 140 employees and adding another 28. A&E chairman and CEO John Lang said, “Local support for our company … helped us choose Wisconsin.”


Bill Brown, president and CEO of Vitalmedix, a biotechnology firm that just moved to Hudson, says the state Legislature has shown foresight in creating tax credits that encourage investment in young, high-tech start-ups.


Boris Elisman, president of ACCO Brands, an office products manufacturer, recently announced the company’s plans to grow, saying, “The cooperation we received from the state of Wisconsin and our prior experience with Wisconsin’s excellent workforce were compelling reasons for our choice to consolidate operations in Pleasant Prairie.”


It’s encouraging to see—and to hear—that Wisconsin companies are expanding and hiring because of Assembly Democrats’ work.


In keeping the line of communication open with business leaders, we will build on early successes. That’s why Assembly Democrats have formed a group called Wisconsin’s Partnership for a Stronger Economy. The Partnership is bringing Republican and Democratic lawmakers, business owners and workforce leaders together to pinpoint the next steps in Wisconsin’s economic recovery.


It’s an incredibly diverse group with a wealth of real-world knowledge.


Whether they think we need to streamline business regulations, invest in specialized worker training, consider new tax credits and incentives or do something we’ve never even thought of, we need their ideas.


We need their ideas if we’re going to see “Help Wanted” signs up and empty storefronts filled.


We need their ideas if we want to see more Wisconsin workers earning paychecks and more Wisconsin businesses growing their bottom lines.


In bringing the corporate community and labor leaders together to share their ideas for economic growth, Assembly Democrats have found a new way of doing “business” in Madison. A way that will connect the needs of employees with the needs of employers and that, we hope, will add to the growing list of economic success stories in Wisconsin.


There are encouraging signs that Wisconsin is on the road to recovery, but we know we have more work to do. With a spirit of partnership, we can and will continue to create jobs, boost business and expand opportunity for every Wisconsinite.


Rep. Mike Sheridan D-Janesville, is speaker of the state Assembly. He can be reached at P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708; phone 1-888-947-0044; e-mail rep.sheridan@legis.Wisconsin.gov.

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