24 Nov “Grow Wisconsin” Should Help Tutor Wisconsin on Economic Growth
For the 13th straight year, Wisconsin scored an “A” for economic performance when the Corporation for Enterprise Development released its annual report card on the states. But not all of Wisconsin’s grades were as glowing, as the Wisconsin Technology Network’s recent news story explained. The report card renewed concerns about the state’s ability to foster entrepreneurship and to transfer ideas to the marketplace.
Wisconsin is an innovative state. It has research-intensive companies and world-class institutions, such as the UW-Madison, the Marshfield Clinic, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. We rank with peer states such as Colorado and North Carolina in patent intensity. We have a skilled, motivated workforce and a superb quality of life with top-ranked educational and health care resources, short commutes, and reasonable living costs. Wisconsin is a great place to start a business and build a life. In fact, Wisconsin is gaining a global reputation in information technology, medical devices and biotechnology. We have needed leadership to turn these advantages into new businesses that will create high-quality jobs.
Gov. Jim Doyle’s “Grow Wisconsin” plan provides that leadership. It is a comprehensive action agenda that will unleash more than $1 billion in public and private investment. It is a focused plan that reflects the need to control costs and use resources efficiently.
“Grow Wisconsin” called for increased venture capital investment in Wisconsin, especially in early stage and “seed” companies. The bills passed by the Senate and hailed by the governor will make available $185 million in venture capital over the next 12 years and will leverage additional investment to exceed his original target of $300 million. A new $5-million initiative will provide technical assistance, matching grants and bridge grants to help researchers win federal funding to turn scientific discoveries into jobs. The governor also signed legislation to make up to $38-million in tax credits available to technology businesses through modifications in Wisconsin’s technology zone tax credit program. A new Bureau of Entrepreneurship in the Department of Commerce will conduct outreach to emerging technology companies in Wisconsin and operate an expanded program to help Wisconsin firms win federal research and development funds.
Grow Wisconsin is also serving as a blueprint to streamline regulation in Wisconsin and to continue our state’s investments in “K-through-gray” education. Without an educated workforce, Wisconsin cannot compete in the “knowledge-based economy” of the 21st century.
Finally, new initiatives are tapping into Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial spirit. The first Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference was held in June 2003 and the first Governor’s Business Plan Contest (www.govsbizplancontest.com) was launched in November. Both programs, produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council, are designed to speed ideas to the marketplace.
Wisconsin is emerging from the bottom half of the class when it comes to fostering entrepreneurship. With the leadership of “Grow Wisconsin,” look for Wisconsin’s grades to get better when the 2003 CFED report card is delivered a year from now.
Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Wisconsin Innovation Network, and is a member of the Governor’s Economic Growth Council.