There are a number of reasons why companies, investors and other institutions should invest or otherwise do business in Wisconsin, from its efficient agricultural sector to its modernized manufacturing community to its growing high technology economy.
THE RIGHT PEOPLE: Wisconsin offers a well-trained, educated workforce with an outstanding work ethic and proven adaptability. High-school graduation rates and higher education rates in Wisconsin are above the U.S. average, and college entrance exam scores rank No. 1 or 2, year after year. In the technology sector, Wisconsin is building a cadre of experienced managers, many of whom have taken companies from the start-up level to acquisition, merger or initial public offering.
A WARM INVESTMENT CLIMATE: The enactment of investor tax credits and the creation of an angel investing infrastructure through the Wisconsin Angel Network have combined to spur increases in the number of angel networks (from six to 22), the number of reported angel network deals (up five-fold) and the amount invested in early stage deals ($15 million in 2008). Wisconsin has recently expanded its investor tax credit program, which will lead to a tripling of available credit dollars by 2011.
AN INVITING PLACE FOR ENTREPRENEURS: Wisconsin has created an integrated portfolio of services, both public and private, for entrepreneurs and early stage companies. The effort is paying off. The 2008 New Economy Index by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation showed that Wisconsin had moved up four places since 2002 in its 50-state report on multiple benchmarks.
COMPETITIVE BUSINESS COSTS: Doing business in Wisconsin can translate directly into savings. Construction and operating costs are as much as 45 percent lower than other areas of the country. Utility costs are typically 25 percent less than the national average. Land costs are extremely competitive and quality labor is available at fair prices. Corporate income taxes in Wisconsin rank in the bottom third among the states, sales taxes rank in the middle, excise taxes and fees are among the lowest in the nation, and recent tax reforms have helped put Wisconsin on a competitive platform with other states. Worker’s Compensation rates and Unemployment Compensation taxes remain among the lowest in the United States.
WORLD-CLASS ACADEMIC R&D: Wisconsin institutions conduct more than $1.1 billion per year in academic research and development, according to National Science Foundation figures. It’s led by the UW-Madison with more than $900 million in research spending per year, good for second in the nation. Other leaders are the Medical College of Wisconsin, UW-Milwaukee and the Marshfield Clinic. The UW-Madison Institutes for Discovery, a $150-million facility now under construction, is the only interdisciplinary research center of its kind in the United States outside the East and West coasts. The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center is the state’s newest federal laboratory, backed by a $135-million federal grant.
A THRIVING LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR: The biosciences are an $8-billion industry in Wisconsin, including more than 400 companies and 28,000 workers in medical, industrial and environmental biotechnology, bioinformatics, medical devices, healthcare and value-added agriculture. Wisconsin is ranked in the top 10 for biotechnology employment growth. “Fierce Biotech,” a leading industry bulletin, recently named Wisconsin one of the five places in the world best-positioned to be a hotbed of biotech innovation. GE Healthcare has more than 6,000 employees in Wisconsin alone. Recent company success stories have included the acquisitions of NimbleGen, MirusBio and Third Wave Technologies.
HIGH-TECH MARKETS ARE HOT, TOO: Information technology and other high-tech goods and services are an emerging sector in the Wisconsin economy. Drawn by the quality of academic research in Madison, Microsoft and Google have opened research offices there. Cyberstates 2009, an industry review by TechAmerica, showed Wisconsin third among the 50 states in electromedical equipment manufacturing employment, ninth in electronic components manufacturing employment, and 13th in software publisher employment. The state’s high-tech payroll of $5.4 billion ranked 22nd overall, according to TechAmerica. The state consistently ranks among the nation’s leaders in the number of patents issued.
THE RIGHT LOCATION AND EXCELLENT QUALITY OF LIFE: Wisconsin lies in the heart of the I-Q Corridor, a 400-mile stretch that includes Chicago to the south and the Twin Cities of Minnesota to the northwest. The corridor offers a world-class combination of talent, capital and research. Not only do Wisconsin and the I-Q Corridor provide a safe zone from many natural disasters, it’s also well insulated from the biggest security concerns of our time. The region is statistically one of the safest areas in the United States. Madison, La Crosse, Appleton, Green Bay and other Wisconsin communities have recently showed up in “best places” magazine rankings, such as Fast Company, National Geographic and Money.