WisBusiness: Doyle pushes education at economic forum

By Brian E. Clark

MIDDLETON – Wisconsin’s economy is back on track, but still faces
challenges if it is hopes generate high-paying jobs for its residents,
Gov. Jim Doyle said this morning at the start of a two-day “Building the
New Wisconsin Economy” conference.

“I hope we will be able to look back 20 years from now and can say we
transformed our economy to prepare for the future,” said Doyle, who spoke
after UW President Kevin Reilly.

Doyle praised Reilly and other leaders of the Badger State’s
education system for promoting economic growth and said Wisconsin’s
schools are the backbone of future prosperity.

Doyle, who took office in January of 2003, said Wisconsin had
created 170,000 new jobs during his tenure, heads the Midwest in new
employment and is a leader in bringing manufacturing jobs back to the
United States.

Doyle praised decisions by GE to keep its national healthcare
headquarters in Milwaukee and by Procter & Gamble to install a $250 paper
machine in Green Bay.

“We want companies to do business in Wisconsin,” said Doyle, who
noted that he would be in Janesville later Tuesday to celebrate the building of
that city’s 16 millionth vehicle at its GM plant.

“We have changed our regulatory system to preserve the highest
environmental standards, while reducing the bureaucratic burden in an
effort to keep and attract more companies,” he said.

Doyle also lauded new laws to promote investment in Wisconsin
enterprises and efforts to help entrepreneurs turn their dreams into job-producing companies.

Doyle said it is his wish that every person who wants a job will
be able to find employment in Wisconsin – and at a wage that is equal to
the national average.

Wisconsin currently falls short of that average, but Doyle said
the state is rapidly closing the gap.

The governor said economic development will continue to be a high
priority for his administration.

“There is no social program better than having a good-paying
job,” he said.

“But to have those jobs in the future, we must continually
upgrade our manufacturing base, our schools and our agriculture,” he

To do this, he urged his audience to push for continued support
for K-12, technical colleges and the UW system.

“There aren’t any governors in the United States who, if they
were honest, wouldn’t be glad to trade their education system for ours,”
he bragged.

“But in order to maintain and improve our economy, we must
improve our schools,” he said. “To be honest, we don’t know what the jobs
will be in 20 years, but if our schools are strong, we will be able to
handle them.

“If there is a business that needs highly educated employees, we
want them to look to Wisconsin,” said Doyle, who noted that he will
declare September “Workforce Development Month.”

The “Building the New Wisconsin Economy” will run through
Wednesday morning. The conference, which is sponsored by the UW and other
public and private groups, is an offshoot of the Wisconsin Economic

Participants are discussing economic development techniques that are
working in the state. They hope to build user-friendly “templates” that
can be adopted by communities at various stages of the economic
development process.

The forum is focusing on successful development examples in Sauk
County, the 7 Rivers Region surrounding La Crosse and the Northeast
Wisconsin Regional Economic Partnership in the Fox Valley.