WMC: Gov. Evers’ Rural Prosperity Commission must focus on workforce

MADISON – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) President & CEO Kurt Bauer will appear on Capital City Sunday this weekend to discuss Gov. Tony Evers’ State of the State address and his creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission for Rural Prosperity.

WMC applauded Gov. Evers for making rural Wisconsin a priority, but noted that the governor didn’t make one mention of the workforce shortage in his remarks or executive order. The governor’s new focus on rural communities comes after WMC spent most of 2019 discussing the issue with local business, government and education leaders.

Over the last year, WMC Foundation – through its Future Wisconsin Project – hosted a townhall with more than 100 leaders from around the state, held listening sessions in numerous small communities, conducted in-depth research and hosted the Future Wisconsin Summit, all focused on the challenges facing rural Wisconsin. WMC Foundation will release a rural Wisconsin report in the spring with its findings and solutions.

“There is no surprise, the biggest problem in rural Wisconsin according to our listening sessions, townhall and economic summit we had in December is workforce,” Bauer said during a taping of Capital City Sunday.

He also mentioned other concerns that came up like a housing shortage, substance abuse issues, a lack of vital services and broadband access. Many of the problems, however, come back to a declining population, which is why it is critical for Gov. Evers’ commission to focus on talent attraction, retention and reintegration.

During the segment, Bauer also discussed the need for immigration reform at the federal level and necessary changes to rein in the high costs of health care.

The full interview will be broadcast Sunday morning at 9:00AM on WKOW in Madison, WQOW in Eau Claire, WXOW in La Crosse and WAOW in Wausau.

Prior to Gov. Evers’ remarks on Wednesday night, Bauer published an op-ed calling on Gov. Evers to focus on the workforce shortage and high health care costs. That op-ed appeared in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram, Kenosha News, Sun Prairie Star and other media outlets leading up to the State of the State Address.

The WMC team also appeared on radio programs throughout the state this past week discussing the top economic challenges facing our state. Those interviews can be listened to at the links below:

WMC’s Kurt Bauer joins The Jay Weber Show – Milwaukee

WMC’s Scott Manley joins The Vicki McKenna Show – Madison, Eau Claire and La Crosse