Gov. Walker: Wisconsin jumps 17 spots in business ranking

Contact: Cullen Werwie, 608-267-7303

Wisconsin Saw Greatest Improvement in Survey of CEOs

Madison–Today a ranking of the best and worst states for business was released by Chief Executive Magazine, which was based on a survey of more than 500 CEOs who considered a criteria ranging from taxation and regulation to workforce quality and living environment. This annual ranking shows that Wisconsin, who in 2010 was ranked the 41st best state to do business in, jumped more than any other state in the nation to the 24th best state in 2011.

“I am glad that our Open for Business message is resonating,” said Governor Scott Walker. “From our special session to the budget, we are focused on helping our economy grow and letting the world know that Wisconsin welcomes job creators. Despite our progress, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure our state’s private sector can create 250,000 new jobs by 2015. Two of our most immediate needs are making sure the Department of Commerce’s transition to a public-private partnership goes well, and that Wisconsin is able to attract more venture capital.”

According to Chief Executive Magazine:

Wisconsin and Louisiana posted the two biggest gains since 2010…By contrast, Illinois has dropped 40 places in five years and is now in a death spiral. Its bond ranking is 49th, ahead of only California. The state may play host to fugitive state senators from nearby Wisconsin and Indiana who avoid voting in their home legislatures, but businesses are heading for the exits. Doug Oberhelman, CEO of Peoria-based Caterpillar, is raising the specter of moving the heavy equipment maker out of Illinois. In a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn, he wrote, “The direction that this state is headed in is not favorable to business, and I’d like to work with you to change that.”

Business leaders graded the states on a variety of categories grouped under taxation and regulation, workforce quality and living environment. “Do not overtax business,” offered one CEO. “Make sure your tax scheme does not drive business to another state. Have a regulatory environment and regulators that encourage good business—not one that punishes businesses for minor infractions.”

Not surprisingly, states with punitive tax and regulatory regimes are punished with lower rankings, and this can offset even positive scores on quality of living environment. While state incentives are always welcome, what CEOs often seek are areas with consistent policies and regulations that allow them to plan, as well as intangible factors such as a state’s overall attitude toward business and the work ethic of its population…

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels slowed state government payrolls to the point where Indiana has the nation’s fewest state employees per capita. In addition, while at least 35 states raised taxes during the recession, Indiana cut them.

These are some of the actions that encourage business leaders. As another CEO respondent remarked, “We need some political backbone to control spending, address out-of-control debts, and use common sense on environmental and other governmental regulations. Quit demonizing businesses. Who do they think provide real jobs?”

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