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Alliance offers new voice to statewide businesses

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Jim Leute
September 28, 2012

— On the campaign trail earlier this year, Lori Compas heard repeatedly from business owners frustrated by boarded up shops, a lack of affordable health care and cuts to education and libraries that make up the backbone of a community.

"I promised to be their voice and somewhat foolishly looked forward to how I could help them if I won," she said of the June recall election in which she was the Democrat running against Republican incumbent Scott Fitzgerald in the 13th Senate District. Compas, however, lost the election.

The Fort Atkinson photographer has since hooked up with a small group of statewide business owners to form the Wisconsin Business Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization designed to represent business owners "committed to broad-based prosperity and a modern economy that's built to last."

Compas, the organization's executive director, launched the alliance Thursday at stops in Milwaukee, Madison and Janesville.

"We are a new voice for Wisconsin businesses," she said, noting the group will honor Wisconsin's proud traditions of education, collaboration, and good government.

The group, which just started enrolling members Thursday morning, will focus on outreach, policy and business services to support results-based outcomes that benefit its members, their communities and Wisconsin's overall business climate.

Compas said the alliance will testify at public hearings and work with lawmakers to "support common-sense policies" aligned with its principles.

She said that while there are several business organizations already operating in the state, there's room for the Wisconsin Business Alliance, which she said would honor tradition, build community and drive innovation for businesses, entrepreneurs and farm interests of any size.

In the days leading up to the organization's launch, the alliance has been portrayed in some circles as a liberal alternative to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business group and one generally perceived as conservative in its politics.

"I suppose we could be considered a positive alternative to WMC," Compas said, stressing that WBA would stick to its nonpartisan principles.

The betterment of Wisconsin's economy, she said, is not a Democratic or Republican issue.



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