Economic Climate Update
At a time when Wisconsin ranks 27th in the nation in economic competitiveness, and close to 40th in terms of business climate depending on which report you read, very little has been done in the recent months to redirect the downward spiral of our state's economy. With Wisconsin's unemployment rate averaging nearly 10 percent, there's no denying the fact that we must become aggressive in not just retaining jobs in our state but attracting new jobs. When I read reports in the news such as these below, I can't help but wonder why these jobs couldn't have come or stayed in Wisconsin?
- Johnson Controls-Saft, Milwaukee, announced plans last week that they are building a plant in Michigan to manufacture hybrid batteries for cars which would create nearly 500 jobs.
- IBM announced in January that it will be opening a new technology service delivery center in Dubuque, Iowa, which is expected to create up to 1,400 jobs.
- Gardner Denver Inc, Sheboygan, reported this week that they are moving their manufacturing operations from Wisconsin to Louisiana and will be quadrupling its employment numbers.
The answer is that Wisconsin lacks a competitive business climate which is why businesses such as Johnson Controls-Saft, IBM and Gardner Denver chose to locate expanding business elsewhere. With other job-killing provisions in the budget proposal such as the joint and several liability changes and combined reporting, we will continue to see job-creation opportunities move to other states.
Improving our state's economy is not a partisan issue. Every Wisconsin resident should be asking their legislators, "Where are the jobs?" We cannot afford to lose any more jobs to other states such as Michigan, Louisiana and Georgia. Again, it should be Madison's top priority to improve Wisconsin's business climate, to attract new jobs and to retain the jobs we already have.