Reliable infrastructure, a skilled workforce and business-friendly policies make Wisconsin an ideal location for business growth and provide an edge to companies looking to compete on a global scale. With continued advancements in research and development, a collaborative culture that encourages cooperation between industry and the state’s renowned academic institutions, and a portfolio of development-ready certified sites, Wisconsin provides a solid foundation for business success.
“Wisconsin combines an ideal business climate with abundant natural resources and hard-working people to offer a premier location for business startup, growth and investment,” said Tricia Braun, chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “With the second-highest concentration of manufacturing employment in the nation, a strong and adaptable supply chain, and proven industry expertise, Wisconsin helps companies located here maximize their success in a globally-competitive economy.”
Wisconsin is recognized nationally and globally as a leader in both emerging and established industries including water technology; energy, power and control; manufacturing; aerospace; food processing; and bioscience. This industry leadership is driven by an integrated cluster development strategy that sparks further innovation, enhances collaboration and spurs big ideas throughout the state.
Fueling the industry cluster movement in Wisconsin is a commitment among public and private sector participants to increase the state’s competitive advantage through collaboration. Companies throughout the state that have recognized this mutual dependency and have formed partnerships to address common challenges are thriving and creating new economic opportunities, most often with the leadership of a strong industry organization and full engagement from the state’s academic leaders.
The state has also established centers of excellence in water research and energy technology. Establishing such centers of excellence is part of WEDC’s long-term industry cluster strategy to advance targeted, high-growth business clusters to develop high-quality jobs and significant employment growth in Wisconsin. The facilities—including the Global Water Center and the Energy Innovation Center—serve as cluster “anchors” around which educational research and development (R&D), corporate R&D and commercialization, external investment and company attraction connections are made.
Most recently, WEDC, in conjunction with a coalition of aviation and aerospace companies, industry associations and state educational institutions, announced a new partnership to explore the establishment of an aviation/aerospace center of excellence to bring together industry and academic researchers, engineers and programmers to develop and test new aerospace and cybersecurity systems in one location. This would be the first independent aerospace facility of its kind in the nation.
Skilled and Dependable Workforce
Developing its next generation of leaders has always been crucial to the industries in Wisconsin. The state’s university system, anchored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supports the researchers, companies and policy-makers across the state that are working together to develop solutions to the world’s challenges in water technology, bioscience, medical technology, information technology, and energy, power and control. In fact, Wisconsin awards the second highest number of doctorate degrees in the country and its university system consistently ranks in the nation’s top 10 in size and quality. The state also ranks ninth in the nation for the percentage of graduates with STEM degrees, and Madison was ranked by the Brookings Institution as the top U.S. metro for STEM graduates.
The state’s unique blend of public-private partnerships is helping technical colleges and universities in Wisconsin develop a skilled workforce that makes companies and their employees successful. Wisconsin was the first state to develop a technical colleges system, giving the state more than 100 years’ experience training its workforce to fulfill ever-changing industry demands. Today, the state’s highly-rated technical college system helps ensure that its 340,000 students are ready to meet current and future job requirements.
Between the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), WEDC, and other state agencies, the state is providing tax credits, demand-driven worker training grants and customized training programs to make it all happen. Wisconsin’s Fast Forward Program, for example, is fueling the state’s economy through innovative and collaborative grants to employers for customized worker training solutions. The grants support training for skills that are in demand by employers across the state and can be used for projects among school districts, technical colleges and businesses.
To encourage business growth and job creation, Wisconsin provides tax credits and exemptions on sales and property tax for qualifying manufacturing and agricultural businesses—two industries that play a significant role in creating a competitive advantage for the state. The Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit virtually eliminates the tax on income from manufacturing activity in Wisconsin.
In addition, WEDC’s Business Development Tax Credit Program supports job creation, capital investment, training and corporate headquarters location or retention through refundable tax credits.
Certified and Shovel-Ready Sites
In 2013, WEDC worked with Deloitte Consulting to introduce the Certified In Wisconsin® Program, which sets consistent standards for the certification of industrial sites, putting in place all the key reviews, documents and assessments most commonly required for industrial use. By certifying that these sites meet common basic development requirements, WEDC provides comfort to potential buyers looking to build quickly, thereby increasing the state’s competitiveness when it comes to attracting new projects. To date, 16 total development projects have taken place on 15 certified sites throughout the state, drawing approximately $264 million in investment.
The program has drawn praise from businesses and site selectors alike, including J. Michael Mullis, Tennessee-based Project Location Specialist with J.M. Mullis Inc., who believes the Certified In Wisconsin Program is “one of the best state-level programs in the U.S.”
Centrally located and uniquely positioned for delivering products to U.S. markets within a single business day, the state is well-positioned to help companies reach their target markets both domestically and internationally. The state’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. This extensive transportation network relies on nine major highways covering more than 11,800 miles (18,990 km) to move goods to market and connect businesses to major industrial cities throughout the Midwest. Eight commercial airports serve major industrial and metropolitan areas statewide. Wisconsin is also surrounded by three of the nation’s greatest waterways – Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and the Mississippi River – and ships 39 million tons of product annually from 29 commercial ports located along these bodies of water.
Calling Wisconsin Home
From global manufacturers, leading food processors and national retail chains, companies of all kinds are taking advantage of the many benefits Wisconsin has to offer. Whether looking to start, relocate or expand operations, the state provides development-ready commercial sites and solid infrastructure to get business up-and-running efficiently. The state’s industry know-how, skilled workforce and business-friendly policies help companies meet their growth objectives. For those ready to take the next step, Wisconsin is ready for business. Visit Select.InWisconsin.com for more information.
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