I have a thing for Wisconsin. If I’m not exactly in love with the state, I’ve been a pretty heavy flirt. Especially with its cultural mainstays: Madison’s hockey team, rye cocktails and a comedy ode to the snowmobile suit.

And a couple of weeks ago my old flame announced the best economic development news I have heard anywhere. No, not the Foxconn initiative–where, in exchange for state tax incentives, a Chinese manufacturer will open a flat-panel plant. That is the kind of tangible economic news that political folks find it easy to highlight, even as the state has many areas where unemployment is already at historically low levels.

So Wisconsin’s growth companies are already concerned about finding good people. And a growing manufacturing economy means that the problem is expected to get much worse.

Good News

The best economic initiative I’ve heard of anywhere addresses that shortage.
It suggests that we must deal with productivity, or risk losing our manufacturing economy to super-efficient players elsewhere.

And it’s originating from a quasi-state entity, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, just blocks away from Governor Walker’s Capitol office.

It’s called the Wisconsin Transformational Productivity Initiative (TPI), and it has every chance of achieving its goals for the state. Wanna hear this? The goals are to improve productivity of middle market firms by 40% in 5 years. That means a planned for $50 million in profits for the firms who participate. Read the full story here.