Governor’s Report: Wisconsin Trailblazing Growth

From its urban centers to rural locations, the Badger State is taking action to diversify and expand its economy and opportunity.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers
Madison, WI, the state capital, is a city of close to 300,000 residents. The University of Wisconsin-Madison adds to the city’s vibrant economy and quality of life. (Photo: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation)
By Anne Cosgrove
From the July/August 2023 Issue

The state of Wisconsin is an environment that spurs investment and instills confidence in the future. With a balanced budget and a fully funded pension system, the state’s leadership acknowledges the importance of fiscal responsibility in helping business owners launch and expand their operations in Wisconsin. The state is poised to lead advancements in such pivotal industries as biohealth, water technology, energy, food production and manufacturing, among others. A distinct blend of public-private partnerships across industry, government and academia have come together to bring about economic growth.

Business Facilities recently spoke with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers about the business climate in his state and the latest developments.

BF: Please tell us about the current business environment in Wisconsin. What are a few highlights in the state’s economy?

Governor Evers: Wisconsin’s economy is thriving thanks to the strategic investments our state has made in kids and schools, high-speed internet, roads, and infrastructure, communities, and businesses of all sizes and types. This approach has resulted in record low unemployment and record high labor force participation rates—36,000 more people are working now than before the pandemic. Additionally, Wisconsin has been ranked as the number one state in the country for the share of federal recovery funding under the American Rescue Plan Act we directed to businesses, and second for share on economic development. Of the $1.1 billion Wisconsin allocated toward the economy, $363.3 million was spent on general economic development, $130 million for workforce development, and $641.7 million for assistance to businesses.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

“Wisconsin stands out as a hub of creativity and innovation, making significant strides across diverse industries.”

— Governor Tony Evers

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.

In west central Wisconsin, the Chippewa River runs through the city of Eau Claire. The city of 70,000 is located along Interstate 94 and is home to the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport. (Photo: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation)


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.

Wisconsin Forms New Biohealth Consortium

A consortium of 15 public and private partners has been formed to advance an economic development strategy aimed at bolstering Wisconsin’s leadership in personalized medicine and biohealth technology.

The consortium aims to gather stakeholders around a strategy to leverage Wisconsin’s momentum in this growing technology space, to develop and facilitate shared initiatives, and to pursue designation by the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a Regional Tech Hub (RTH). The designation by EDA of Wisconsin as a Regional Tech Hub could enable the state to access $50 million to $75 million in federal funds under the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.

Consortium members include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the University of Wisconsin System Administration, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, GE HealthCare, Rockwell Automation, Exact Sciences Corporation, BioForward Wisconsin, Employ Milwaukee, Accuray, Plexus, WRTP Big Step, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Madison Area Technical College, the Madison Regional Economic Partnership (MadREP), and Milwaukee7.

The consortium and application to EDA for RTH designation is regarded as a milestone in the continued evolution of Wisconsin’s biohealth sector, representing increased opportunities for collaboration and innovation among key stakeholders – including educational institutions, biohealth companies, precision manufacturers, and investors – in the Madison and Milwaukee MSAs.

“Establishing a Regional Tech Hub in Wisconsin will only further advance our state’s standing as a leader in the biotech and personalized medicine industries, while supporting jobs, economic growth, and research that will better our state, nation, and world,” said Gov. Evers. “The creation of the consortium and the application to EDA for RTH designation was all made possible by strong public and private partnerships and government at every level, and I look forward to seeing this work continue.”

“As a leading global medical technology, pharmaceutical diagnostics and digital solutions innovator with deep ties to Wisconsin, GE HealthCare is honored to join forces with innovative organizations with the passion, expertise and purpose to enable precision medicine and deliver the future of healthcare for patients through the creation of Wisconsin’s BioHealth Tech Hub,” said Peter Arduini, president and CEO of GE HealthCare.

BF: What does the future hold?

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Gov. Evers: Wisconsin stands out as a hub of creativity and innovation, making significant strides across diverse industries such as agriculture, advanced manufacturing, biohealth, food and beverage production, and financial technology. The state’s dedication to investing in robust infrastructure, vibrant communities, and a skilled workforce positions it as a consistent frontrunner in emerging fields.

By nurturing an ecosystem that fosters innovation and sustains growth, Wisconsin is poised to excel in key areas such as electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing, sustainable technology, advanced manufacturing, and biohealth. This promising trajectory is a direct result of ongoing strategic investments made in these sectors, further reinforcing Wisconsin’s status as a trailblazer.

Check out all the latest news related to Wisconsin economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.


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