Wisconsin also has a record budget surplus of over $4 billion, a fully-funded public pension system, and has been recently ranked second nationally for new small business survival over a 10-year period. These achievements demonstrate the state’s commitment to sustained economic growth.
BF: What are target industries for Wisconsin currently? Would you highlight a few projects that have chosen the state for their business?
Gov. Evers: Wisconsin has experienced growth with new and existing businesses throughout 2022 and into 2023. Wisconsin remains a manufacturing powerhouse with businesses like Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Generac, and others around the state expanding operations.
The biohealth sector is also experiencing growth, with expansions like Exact Sciences, Arrowhead Pharmaceutical, and Millipore-Sigma (Merck). Additionally, there is significant growth in data services, IT, and fintech industries with industry leaders such as Fiserv consolidating operations and expanding in downtown Milwaukee.
Wisconsin looks forward to Microsoft establishing a $500 million data center in Mount Pleasant. This substantial investment underscores Wisconsin’s appeal as an attractive destination for industry leaders across all business sectors.
BF: What incentives and other programs are being emphasized for business retention and for business attraction? Would you comment on rural related or other targeted initiatives?
Gov. Evers: Wisconsin offers two principal performance-based incentives for business attraction and retention.
Enterprise Zones allow businesses to earn credits over a period of up to 12 years, enabling expansion at multiple locations within the state.
Business Development Tax Credits, provides location-based benefits, generally over a 3- to 5-year timeframe.
Both incentives have gained popularity among businesses operating in the state. For instance, Fincantieri received a $12 million Business Development Tax Credit, while Exact Sciences availed themselves of extended Enterprise Zone benefits for their expansion in Madison. With its diverse economic base, Wisconsin has achieved success across multiple sectors, including advanced manufacturing, fintech, biohealth, and food and beverage manufacturing.
Recognizing how important rural development is to Wisconsin’s economy, our state created the Office of Rural Prosperity in 2019. This specialized office within the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is a one-stop clearinghouse for rural residents and community leaders and works to ensure that rural voices are heard throughout state government. The office is currently working with communities to update and coordinate their development strategies, share information, and provide technical and other assistance on rural issues such as broadband expansion.
BF: What are the key issues facing the state going forward?
Gov. Evers: Wisconsin, like many other states, is facing workforce challenges due to aging and slow population growth. To address this issue, the state has allocated $128 million of federal recovery funds to develop innovative and sustainable workforce solutions through 27 pilot projects. These initiatives aim to tackle various workforce needs, such as establishing training pipelines for rural teachers and healthcare workers, offering transportation solutions for rural employers, and implementing mobile training labs that bring advanced manufacturing skills directly to rural residents instead of requiring them to travel to technical colleges and universities in urban areas.
Wisconsin recognizes that economic development requires a comprehensive approach beyond just business attraction and retention. The state is actively focused on creating communities that are attractive to live, work, and grow in. By investing in workforce development and providing accessible training opportunities, Wisconsin is striving to build a skilled and resilient workforce for the future. This comprehensive strategy acknowledges the importance of fostering a supportive environment that meets the needs of both businesses and individuals, ensuring the long-term success and prosperity of the state.