WisBusiness: Doyle launches Accelerate Wisconsin to help young companies

By Brian E. Clark

MADISON – Continuing an emphasis on economic growth in advance of his state of the state address, Gov. Jim Doyle on Monday unveiled an initiative to expand tax credits and increase funding for new companies.

Doyle said the program, dubbed “Accelerate Wisconsin,” will build on Act 255 – a collection of credits, grants and loans to attract angel and venture capital.

“This program will lure millions to new Wisconsin business,” said Doyle, speaking to the board of directors of Thrive, a south central Wisconsin economic development group.

Doyle said he believes Accelerate Wisconsin will help Wisconsin “catch up and become a leader” in attracting angel and venture funding. By 2015, he said the amount of tax credits will reach $100 million, which would leverage a minimum of $400 million in private investment.

Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council and a member of Thrive, said he’s “very encouraged” by the governor’s proposals, noting that the tech council has advocated for several of the specific changes that Doyle announced.

He said he was particularly pleased Accelerate Wisconsin would boost the tax-creditable angel investment cap from $1 million to $4 million from any combination of backers, including venture capitalists.

“For most high-tech entrepreneurs, it doesn’t matter if they are getting angel or venture capital investment,” he said. “What counts is that they are getting investments, period.”

Still said he’s also enthusiastic about another proposed change that would give individuals a limited 100 percent capital gains exclusion of up to $10 million for long-term capital gains reinvested in qualified Wisconsin businesses.

“That is one of the largest sources of untapped funds – people who have made gains,” he said. “This will encourage them to look close to home at Wisconsin companies.”

Still said Doyle’s plan to double state funding for technology grants to $5 million will also aid young companies.

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Listen to the audio of Doyle’s talk: