Wisconsin is Doing Well, But There’s More Work to Do

Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images
Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker

This week, CNBC released its“America’s Top States for Business 2012”rankings and Wisconsin comes in at No. 17, up eight from 2011 rankings.

This is a significant accomplishment. It’s not a coincidence that many of the areas CNBC looks at to determine which states are good for business are the same areas we’ve been working hard to improve over the past year and a half.

As soon as I took office, we declared “Wisconsin is Open for Business.” We immediately got to work lowering the tax burden, streamlining regulations, eliminating frivolous lawsuits, pushing for more sources of cost effective and reliable power, providing more options for workers to get the skills and education they need, and partnering with business looking to expand and hire.

To jump start our aggressive pursuit of job creation through business development and expansion, we created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Through innovative strategies for entrepreneur support, community and business development, target industry investment and export growth, WEDC works to facilitate in-state business expansions and business relocations to our state.

We know that businesses want stability. We offered that by getting our fiscal house in order. We put in place long-term reforms to ensure we can continue to offer vital services, and invest in things likeinfrastructure, technology and education.

Our reforms have already saved the taxpayers of Wisconsin more than $1 billion, helped lower property taxes for the first time in 12 years on a median valued home and turned $3.6 billion deficit into a surplus.

The improvement in our “Top States for Business” ranking isn’t the only sign that we are on the right track.

America's Top States For Business
America's Top States For Business

• A recent survey of our employers shows that 94 percent believe that Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. That’s up from 10 percent who felt that way before I took office.

• Earlier this year, "Chief Executive Magazine" ranked Wisconsin No. 20 in its 2012 Best and Worst States for Business survey, up four spots from last year, and up 21 spots from 2010.

• Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is now below 7.00 percent for the first time since 2008.

• Recently, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, DWD, announced that wages were up 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012 in Wisconsin.

• Moody's called our budget "credit positive."

• The PEW Center’s review of pension system’s across the country found ours is the only one that is fully funded.

People sometimes ask me, ‘Do these lists and rankings and surveys really matter when it comes to creating jobs and improving the economy?’, and my answer is – 'Yes, they do.' They inspire confidence, and that is critical for business owners considering expansion in our recovering economy.

Cedarburg, Wisconsin, July 2, 2012.
Photo: Ashley Gulke for CNBC.com
Cedarburg, Wisconsin, July 2, 2012.

Our CNBC ranking of 17thin the “Top States for Business”study is a huge improvement. It’s the highest Wisconsin has ever ranked since the study began. I’m proud of our accomplishments, but there is much more work to do. For continued expansion and growth, business owners need stable, affordable health care costs. They need access to capital. They need a workforce that is skilled and motivated.

When I took office, I knew I wanted to make changes to ensure the Wisconsin that my sons inherit, is better, stronger, and more prosperous than the one than we did. We made the tough decisions that turned this state around. We made government work better. By doing our job, it allows the private sector to do their job.