By Tricia Braun, Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Teamwork and commitment are essential to developing a successful business. In Wisconsin, these elements are foundational to an environment that has been helping businesses evolve, expand and thrive for more than a century.
Wisconsin companies benefit from a business-friendly tax and regulatory structure, but the state offers so much more than that. From the more than $1 billion in annual research at the University of Wisconsin to ongoing workforce development programs that ensure a robust pipeline of workers now and into the future, collaboration fuels business opportunity in the state.
That willingness and ability to deliver business development solutions has produced significant dividends for companies of all sizes, and across multiple industries. Some are homegrown success stories, while others have found a welcoming home in Wisconsin for their growing national or global presence.
Cancer Research Firm Showcases Ingenuity
Since it moved to Madison in 2009 from Boston, Exact Sciences Corporation has been raising its profile as a major player in efforts to eradicate colorectal cancer, the second-deadliest type of cancer in the United States. The biotechnology firm saw its stock price almost quadruple in 2017, as its Cologuard test continues to grow in use and it began looking into early-detection tests for other types of cancer.
Exact Sciences continues to raise capital consistently thanks to the growth of Cologuard, which looks for blood and altered DNA associated with colon cancer and pre-cancerous growths. The company now has more than 1,000 employees and continues to expand its Madison presence with a new facility set for a 2019 completion. That effort is supported by state tax credits of up to $9 million, which can be earned through a combination of more than $26 million in capital expenditures and the creation of more than 700 new full-time positions.
Photo Caption: Exact Sciences is one of many bioscience companies that draw upon Wisconsin’s R&D leadership, strong supply chain and deep talent pool.
“We moved Exact Sciences to Madison because of the state’s qualified, dedicated workers and access to top universities to recruit talent,” says CEO Kevin Conroy. “We have phenomenally talented scientists who are graduating every year from UW-Madison.”
Convenience Store Operator Continues Dynamic Growth
Wisconsin also boasts many companies that began in the state and have tapped its many resources to continue their growth. Among them is Kwik Trip, a La Crosse-based retail convenience store operator with more than 600 locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
Kwik Trip is in the midst of a $300 million capital investment project to support its rapid growth, including a $113 million, 200,000-square-foot bread and bun production facility to support a line of baked goods it is rolling out for its stores. Other expenditures will include expansions and improvements in its dairy manufacturing facility, kitchen operations and transportation fleet.
Kwik Trip’s expansion is projected to create more than 300 jobs over five years. The projects—which are supported by a state tax credit package of up to $21 million over five years—will support the family-owned company’s plans to open 40 to 50 new stores annually, including a significant number in Wisconsin.
Foxconn Campus to Revolutionize Tech Manufacturing
Wisconsin made global headlines in 2017 when Governor Scott Walker and state officials inked a contract that will provide state income tax credits to support a massive, world-class liquid crystal display manufacturing campus in Racine County that will bring 13,000 new jobs to the region.
The skill-, labor- and capital-intensive campus will lay the foundation for an 8K+5G ecosystem that Foxconn is creating in Wisconsin and the United States. It will manufacture the world’s most advanced large-sized LCD panels which will be used in a wide range of technologies, from the latest generation televisions to self-driving cars and aircraft systems and in the fields of education, entertainment, healthcare, advanced manufacturing systems, office automation, interactive retail, and safety, among many others.
Photo Caption: Hundreds of business, government and community leaders joined Governor Scott Walker and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou at the Milwaukee Art Museum in July to announce Foxconn’s decision to invest in Wisconsin.
The 15-year contract calls for Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturing services provider and one of the four largest technology companies in the world, to invest up to $9 billion at its campus in Mount Pleasant. In return, the state will provide up to $1.5 billion in job creation tax credits and $1.35 billion in capital investment credits. All tax credits are “pay as you grow,” meaning Foxconn must create jobs and invest capital in Wisconsin before eligibility is achieved, and the company can only earn the maximum amount of tax benefits after it has created and maintained 13,000 jobs and invested $9 billion.
All Signs Point to Continued Growth
Foxconn had its choice of locations across the United States and chose Wisconsin for its central location, access to major markets, proven supply chain strengths and unmatched manufacturing talent. The company joins a large and growing list of businesses attracted to Wisconsin or recommitting to the state with expanded operations, including the following projects — which represent just a sample of the state’s economic development success stories over the past year.
- German-based HARIBO’s plans to establish a manufacturing complex in Wisconsin. The confectionery company will build a 500,000-square-foot facility in Pleasant Prairie that is expected to employ around 400 people.
- In Little Chute, Nestlé Dreyer’s Ice Cream Company has opened a 300,000-square-foot cold storage distribution facility to enhance its northeastern Wisconsin production facility.
- Johnsonville’s global headquarters in Sheboygan Falls is expanding with a 49,000-square-foot addition that will contain a member development center, additional workspace and an expanded fitness center for employees. Johnsonville also will be growing its engineering and R&D efforts as it looks to grow its domestic, international and food-service businesses.
- Generac Power Systems has tapped into $10 million in Enterprise Zone Tax Credits to invest $73 million in renovations and equipment for its Waukesha-based global corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities around the state, creating at least 400 jobs over the next five years.
- Mills Fleet Farm has broken ground on a $64.8 million distribution center in Chippewa Falls, a project expected to create more than 300 jobs.
“The continued and growing interest in Wisconsin as an ideal location to start or grow a business is a testament not only to our state’s long history of industry leadership, but also to our ability to adapt to evolving economic forces,” says Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state’s lead economic development organization. “Companies that invest in Wisconsin benefit from a network of more than 600 partners dedicated to their success, a proven culture of innovation, and a talented workforce with a strong work ethic.”
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