Why… Wisconsin?

Companies of all shapes and sizes find success in The Badger State. Leading the way to assist new and expanding firms, The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) shares a look at the latest developments for business...

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2022 Issue

The Badger State is home to iconic businesses such as Harley-Davidson, Kohl’s, Molson-Coors, Johnson Controls, Milwaukee Tool, Kohler, and Manpower Group to name a few. With a population of almost 5.5 million and lower costs of living and operation than other Midwest states, Wisconsin is an obvious choice for both U.S. and international entrepreneurs and businesses.

Wisconsin’s ideal business climate is the combination of many factors: a prime location; a balanced state budget and fully funded public pension fund; strategic investments in education and worker training, and community development; a strong work ethic and a culture of research and constant innovation. As a right-to-work state with virtually no income taxes on manufacturers, ambitious companies that open shop are primed to prosper.

isconsin Economic Development Corporation
(Photo: Adobe Stock / Daniel)

Wisconsin’s central location and robust infrastructure give companies one-day access to many major markets throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Wisconsin’s roads, railways and ports provide seamless, convenient access to the world’s busiest multimodal transportation hub, located just 55 miles south of the state’s border.

Key sectors that drive top growth in the state are manufacturing; energy, power and controls; aerospace and aviation; water technology; food and beverage; biohealth; forest products; and information technology. In fact, Wisconsin has the second-highest manufacturing concentration of any state in the nation.

Business Growth In 2021

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) works with both large and small businesses to help them thrive and grow in Wisconsin—from luring a luxury boat manufacturer—Grand Craft Boats—to the shores of Lake Geneva to helping backup power manufacturer Generac expand and add hundreds of jobs in Waukesha County.

The state welcomed its first new paper mill in more than 30 years with the opening of Green Bay Packaging’s new $500 million facility in 2021. Across the state in La Crosse, the pandemic heightened demand for Kwik Trip’s food products. WEDC was able to help the company expand its food production campus with an additional $5 million in performance-based tax credits.

Technology leader Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. will receive up to $8 million in tax credits over the next five years, for a Global Center of Excellence for High-Performance Computer Manufacturing in Chippewa Falls, a $22 million project. As a result of this acquisition HPE now has 486 full-time employees, along with about 200 contingent workers at multiple sites in Chippewa Falls. 

Cancer testing company, Exact Sciences, will be expanding its headquarters in Madison, adding more than 1,300 new jobs. The $350 million expansion project will include a research and development center and testing laboratory at the company’s west-side Madison campus.

Leader In Pandemic Relief

A recent study showed Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for allocating federal pandemic funds to businesses, and second nationally for allocating funds for economic development. WEDC has been at the forefront of helping businesses through the pandemic. Over 100,000 small businesses have received more than $524 million in grants to help cover lost revenues and other costs, encourage innovation, and help new businesses get a foothold in communities throughout Wisconsin.

As one of the many efforts to help rejuvenate downtowns, WEDC established the Wisconsin Tomorrow Main Street Bounceback Grant program, with $50 million in grants to support up to 5,000 businesses and nonprofits moving into vacant commercial spaces. To date, more than 4,200 new businesses have opened with help from these grants.

Manufacturing And Lab Project Breaks Ground

In Verona, WI, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recently held a groundbreaking ceremony. The company will build an approximately 160,000-square-foot drug manufacturing facility and an approximately 125,000-square-foot laboratory and office facility to support process development and analytical activities on the site.

Arrowhead received awards for up to $16 million in tax increment financing from the city of Verona, and up to $2.5 million in refundable Wisconsin state income tax credits from the WEDC as incentives to invest in the local community and create new jobs.

isconsin Economic Development Corporation
Rendering of planned Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals site in Verona, WI to house manufacturing, laboratory, and office facilities. (Image: Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals)

“We have had a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with the local biotech community and broader business community in the greater Madison, Wisconsin area for many years,” said Christopher Anzalone, Ph.D., Arrowhead’s president and CEO. “Arrowhead is excited to continue our partnership with Wisconsin and is thankful to the city of Verona for providing us with a $16 million tax increment financing award and the WEDC for providing us with $2.5 million in refundable tax credits. These incentives are a great example of public-private partnerships that support continued investment in activities that generate new jobs in the region.

“I also want to thank Lisa Johnson, President of BioForward, Verona mayor Luke Diaz, Secretary and Chief Executive Officer at WEDC Missy Hughes, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers for joining us to break ground on Arrowhead’s new manufacturing and lab facilities,” continued Anzalone. “These new facilities will help support the development, and ultimately the commercialization, of potentially important new medicines that leverage the natural RNAi pathway to target genes involved in various diseases.”

Construction project team members include Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA), DPS Group, D’Onofrio Kottke & Associates, Smocke & Associates, and Vogel Bros. Building Co. Completion of the lab and office space is anticipated in 2023 and completion of the manufacturing facility is expected in 2024.

“In the last few years, Wisconsin has been recognized as a powerhouse not just for discovering the latest advances in biopharmaceutical research and development but in manufacturing and producing these lifesaving treatments as well,” said Governor Tony Evers. “That means that companies like Arrowhead can research new therapies for debilitating diseases, bring them to market, and manufacture them all right here in Wisconsin. To me, that’s pretty remarkable and worth investing in. So, I’m proud to celebrate our state’s investment of $2.5 million in Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals project to expand its presence here in Wisconsin and create good-paying jobs for Wisconsinites.”

Wisconsin Means Business

WEDC and its partners across the state offer access to programs and resources to help start, relocate or expand business in Wisconsin. Through collaboration with local and regional economic development organizations, academia and industry associations, businesses are connected to growth-oriented solutions to help maximize their potential. 

Want to learn more about Wisconsin corporate expansion?

Considering Wisconsin for your company’s relocation or expansion project? Check out all the latest news related to Wisconsin economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.