Amhaus, Hall see international opportunities for state businesses

MILWAUKEE — WEDC chief Reed Hall and Milwaukee Water Council President Dean Amhaus share optimism that Wisconsin businesses are poised to do well in foreign markets.

Gov. Scott Walker leads a trade mission to western Europe next month. The trade mission to Germany, France and Spain will take place from April 12-20. Walker led a trade mission earlier this year to the United Kingdom.

Hall said the governor’s presence on trade missions is a big asset.

“He’s quite well-known,” said Hall.

“It opens doors,” said Amhaus, adding he thinks business leaders in other cultures view the participation of top government leaders as a sign of respect.

The two appeared Friday at a luncheon at UW-Milwaukee’s Zilber School of Public Health to discuss Milwaukee-area economic development.

They also said it’s important to help small businesses in Wisconsin develop the confidence and skills to do business globally. They pledged support for entrepreneurs and small businesses that are interested in overseas markets.

“We’re working to train small businesses to function in places with different cultures and economies,” Amhaus said. “Their fortunes may be there.”

The Milwaukee Water Council promotes the area as a global hub for water-related manufacturing, academic research and technology.

Amhaus said a growing worldwide shortage of clean water creates opportunities for Wisconsin companies large and small.

“There are places where it’s a catastrophe’s that happening,” said Amhaus, mentioning Brazil several times.”We’re already getting calls literally from across the world, and we’ve got delegations from across the world that are coming in because there’s such a level of desperation to find solutions. They’re looking for solutions, and that’s where Wisconsin has an opportunity.”

— By Kay Nolan