MILWAUKEE – At a bill signing ceremony at Oilgear Company in Milwaukee today, Governor Jim Doyle signed into law two economic development measures that were priorities within the Governor’s “Grow Wisconsin” plan. The bills will unleash investment in early stage companies and help manufacturers improve their competitiveness.
“Here in Wisconsin, we have great research institutions, a budding biotechnology industry, and a long tradition of great entrepreneurs,” Governor Doyle said. “But we are sorely lacking the venture capital needed to turn those good ideas into great Wisconsin companies. If we want to help our entrepreneurs capitalize on their ideas, we need to attract more capital to Wisconsin – especially seed and early stage capital.”
Senate Bill 261 creates two tax credit programs to encourage investment in start-up companies, and creates a new program at the Department of Commerce that will provide funding and technical assistance to entrepreneurs.
Specifically, the bill provides $65 million of tax credits over the next decade to encourage investors to invest money, time, and expertise in new Wisconsin companies. The credits are targeted at seed and early stage companies where investment is especially scarce. When fully deployed, the credits will leverage over $260 million of investment from the private sector.
“This legislation will inject critical investment in our state’s economy,” Governor Doyle said. “It will not only allow entrepreneurs and start-up companies to get the early financial help they need to grow – it will also help them turn their great ideas into good, high paying jobs for Wisconsin citizens.”
The bill also creates a network of assistance centers to support entrepreneurs statewide. For the first time, Wisconsin will offer both expertise and grants to companies applying for federal funds or private sector funding.
Injecting new capital into the economy is a major priority of the Governor’s “Grow Wisconsin” plan. Last fall, the Governor outlined five requirements for a strong venture capital plan, and issued a challenge to the Legislature to work with his Administration to make sure any bill met those five requirements. The Governor’s requirements were the plan had to be affordable, target seed and early stage companies, be aimed at high-end jobs, leverage additional investment, and avoid excessive administrative costs.
The Governor said SB 261 represents a bipartisan answer to his challenge, and thanked the bill’s lead authors – Senators Ted Kanavas and Julie Lassa and Representative Ann Nischke.
Governor Doyle also signed legislation that will help grow the Wisconsin economy by investing in the future of manufacturing companies.
“Manufacturing is a vital part of our state’s economy,” Governor Doyle said. “Yet the manufacturing sector has been hit very hard across the country, and Wisconsin is no exception. In the last three years, Wisconsin has lost more than 84,000 manufacturing jobs. We are at a critical moment when we need to invest in our manufacturers, or risk losing them forever.”
Assembly Bill 859 provides funding to manufacturing extension programs in Wisconsin that will help small manufacturers modernize to stay competitive and create new jobs. Wisconsin has two centers – the Northwest Manufacturing Outreach Center at UW-Stout and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) in Madison. WMEP has provided assistance to the Oilgear Company and its workers on four major projects that have helped reduce waste and remove inefficiencies in the manufacturing process.
“These centers provide valuable services that our manufacturers rely upon,” Governor Doyle said. “This legislation will provide $1.5 million in funding that will allow these organizations to continue to help our manufacturers modernize, stay competitive, and create new jobs in Wisconsin.”
Governor Doyle thanked the bill’s lead authors – Representatives Terri McCormick and Tony Staskunas and Senators Sheila Harsdorf and Dave Hansen.
Both bills are among a number of “Grow Wisconsin” initiatives that have been signed into law by the Governor. Other successful measures include: eliminating the tax on creating jobs; implementing the most aggressive regulatory reform in the Midwest; expediting the process of siting needed power generation and transmission facilities; and modernizing Wisconsin’s financial industry while protecting workers.
Governor Doyle signed both bills with partial vetoes. In SB 261, the Governor used his partial veto pen to accelerate implementation of the program in order to allow entrepreneurs to access funds and technical assistance this year. In AB 859, the Governor eliminated a cut to the Wisconsin Development Fund (WDF), which supports a number of important economic development programs, in order to fully fund both WDF and the manufacturing extension partnerships.
The Partial Veto Message on SB 261 can be found online at http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docs/041504_Partial_Veto_SB261.pdf,
and the Partial Veto Message on AB 859 can be found at http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docs/041504_Partial_Veto_AB859.pdf.