Doyle pushes economic development in speech

By Brian E. Clark

MADISON – Gov. Jim Doyle pledged Thursday to continue to push Wisconsin’s
economic development on numerous fronts, so “all residents can go as far
as their hard work and talent will take them.”

That includes advocating for human embryonic stem cell research, in spite
of bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, noted Doyle,
who said such research could lead to medical breakthroughs and create
thousands of biotechnology jobs in the Badger State.

“And if they send me more bills outlawing stem cell research, I will veto
them, too,” Doyle said shortly after he addressed a conference at the
Monona Terrace Convention Center sponsored by the Wisconsin Economic
Development Association (WEDA).

Doyle said his administration’s program for tax cuts and regulatory
reform during the past three years had helped stimulate the economy and
create 140,000 new jobs.

And he lauded a recent study by the Corporation for Enterprise
Development that ranked Wisconsin among the top seven states in the
nation for its economic development climate.

The report gave Wisconsin an A for economic performance and B’s for
economic vitality and development capacity. The rating is the first and
only time the state made the corporation’s “honor roll” in the study’s
19- year history.

Three hours after the WEDA gathering, Doyle was in the southeast
Wisconsin community of Sussex. There, flanked by Quad/Graphics President
Joel Quadracci, he announced that the printing giant would receive up to
$3 million in Enterprise Development Zone tax credits for creating up to
750 new jobs at its Sussex, Hartford, and Lomira facilities.

In his Madison speech, Doyle took partial credit for a decision by
Procter & Gamble to build a $120 million paper machine in Green Bay.

Bill Ward, external relations and energy manager for Procter & Gamble,
agreed that changes in Wisconsin’s regulatory climate under Doyle had
weighed heavily on his company’s decision to expand.

“We would not have built here four years ago,” said Ward, a Wisconsin
native who guided his company’s expansion in other regions of the nation.
Ward also addressed the conference.

“The governor and state agencies combined to make things more
attractive,” he said, noting that Doyle signed legislation streamlining
the state’s permitting process at a P&G plant.

“It was a team effort to improve the business climate. Things have
happened here in Wisconsin that have leveled the playing field and
that has helped a great deal.”

But Tim Wilkinson, an executive with Alcoa, said the state’s relatively
high taxes put it a disadvantage in seeking to attract new companies.

Likewise, he said state Supreme Court decisions lifting medical
malpractice caps and expanding business liabilities had hurt the state.

“You can bet those Wall Street Journal articles (about the rulings) are
on a lot of bulletin boards,” he said in a speech.

He also chided the Legislature for under-funding, Forward Wisconsin –
whose mission is to selling the Badger State to outsiders.

“I’ve seen cities that have bigger budgets,” he scoffed.