Wis. Tech Council: Applauds Legislature’s Passage Of Broadband Measure And Bill To Spur UW Entrepreneurs

Contact: Tom Still or Liz Stephens, 608-442-7557

MADISON – Two pieces of legislation vital to Wisconsin’s success in the 21st century “Knowledge Economy” have cleared the Wisconsin Legislature with bipartisan support. They are:

* Senate Bill 338, the so-called “self-dealing legislation,” which would encourage more entrepreneurial activity by University of Wisconsin professors, and;

* Senate Bill 483/Assembly Bill 892, which will speed broadband telecommunications deployment.

Wisconsin Technology Council president Tom Still said the bills will buoy Wisconsin’s high-growth, high-tech industries and build upon other recent Legislative actions meant to improve Wisconsin’s general business climate.

“Passage of these critical pieces of legislation sends a clear signal that Wisconsin fully intends to be a key participant in the new economy,” Still said. “These bills will give Wisconsin the foothold it needs to secure – even strengthen – its position in the Knowledge Economy.”

SB 338 will enable UW researchers from around the state to bring their discoveries to market more quickly, and is seen as a key element not only for the university in their recruitment and retention efforts, but also for the business and high-tech communities in their investment procurement efforts. Wisconsin academic institutions attract nearly $900 million per year in research spending, which translates to 31,000 jobs, according to a 2004 Tech Council report.

“With the passage of this legislation, researchers throughout the UW System will be empowered to play an even larger part in growing Wisconsin’s economy by starting companies that employ our citizens, bring investors to Wisconsin, increase our tax base, and give a competitive advantage to Wisconsin in the Knowledge Economy,” Still said.

SB 483/AB 892 will enable the Department of Commerce to distribute about $7.5 million in tax credits to Internet service providers who must make about $150 million in equipment investments in unserved and under-served areas of the state in order to capture the full amount of the credits. According to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, broadband penetration in the United States was less than 17 percent of businesses and households in 2005. In Wisconsin, the penetration is estimated at closer to 15 percent, a dismal ranking of 25th among the nation’s 50 states.

Wisconsin is undergoing an economic revolution that has been spotty, depending in part on geography. The state’s larger cities have generally plugged into the global economy, which uses the Internet as a platform, and smaller communities generally have not,” Still explained. “Though passage of this legislation isn’t a panacea, it’s an important step forward in our increasingly wired world.”

The Wisconsin Technology Council is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to assist in the creation, development and retention of science-based and technology-based businesses in Wisconsin.