Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch meets with Rock County business leaders
Kleefisch met with about 30 local business owners and city leaders in a roundtable discussion at the Holiday Inn Express and Janesville Conference Center. Forward Janesville sponsored the event to let people provide the governor’s office with input on how to improve small businesses.
Outside, about eight marchers carrying signs protested Gov. Scott Walker and the budget repair bill. They said Forward Janesville should not be supporting Walker or his administration.
“The lieutenant governor, of course, is his mouthpiece today,” marcher Ken Pearson of Janesville said, while holding a sign that stated, “Koch brothers buy Walker and Wisconsin.”
“I’m also here to warn Forward Janesville,” Pearson said. “They are supporting the governor, whose agenda is destroying the middle class.”
Inside, business leaders told Kleefisch they were having difficulties attracting good workers, paying for employee health care and fighting government regulation.
They said students need an affordable education and that technical colleges should be promoted. They said taxes must be kept down to compete with other states.
Elizabeth Olson of R&R Concrete and Excavating said she couldn’t find people willing to work.
“Everyone wants the glory jobs. Nobody wants to do construction,” she said. “A lot of people just don’t think it’s important to have a good, hard day’s work.”
Mark Bush of Data Dimensions said his company added jobs in this tough economy but it was difficult. He said it’s hard for Wisconsin companies to compete with foreign companies.
Connie Wilson of Janesville Insulation said her company had to lay off employees. She said they have rehired some people and hope to hire more.
Bud Gayhart of the UW-Whitewater Small Business Development Center said businesses have been frustrated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He said the DNR did not allow some businesses to expand because of nearby wetlands, even though the area wasn’t designated a wetland when the business opened.
He said those types of regulations have cost the area jobs.
Kleefisch took notes while business owners spoke. She said the governor’s office wants to help create 10,000 new small businesses and 250,000 new jobs statewide.
Kleefisch said many problems she has heard in Rock County are the same problems she has heard across the state.
“What we need to do right now is help pull the private sector up by its bootstraps,” Kleefisch said.
Outside, Pearson said he supports small businesses and job growth.
“Small businesses also need the middle class,” Pearson said. “They can’t support agendas that are destroying the middle class and the poor.”
Another protester, Heidi Murphy of Janesville, said the governor is cutting wages from the middle class.
“Without that, I don’t know how a small business can grow because their customers simply can’t afford it (their products and services),” Murphy said.
“I don’t think that Becky Kleefisch has any idea what is in the budget repair bill, let alone how it’s going to hurt small businesses.”