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Governor Outlines 2005 Agenda with Second Edition of Grow Wisconsin

September 26, 2005

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle today unveiled the plan that will guide his Administration's legislative agenda for the next 12 months. Grow Wisconsin: The 2005 Agenda focuses on three areas: investing in business, investing in people, and fostering a competitive business climate.

While the largest single funding element in the plan calls for changing the structure of the state's $500 million affordable housing program, tech-based economic development initiatives are prevalent. Highlights include:

  • Deploying $30 million in Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) bonds to support creation of more business Incubators;
  • Modifying legislation to make it easier for University of Wisconsin faculty to start their own businesses while serving in the university system;
  • Providing $2 million for the Biomedical Technology Alliance in southeast Wisconsin, beginning with a $500,000 seed grant to promote research;
  • Creating $170 million in tax credits statewide as incentives for businesses to locate high-wage jobs in distressed areas. In addition, Governor Doyle is calling for the creation of a new flexible grant program – the Super Employment Economic Development Zones – to assist companies that create jobs in the state’s areas of highest unemployment. Grants provided to businesses could be used to cover employee transportation costs, pay for utilities, and subsidize childcare for workers hired from the area;
  • Introducing legislation to improve the Venture Capital and Angel Investor Tax Credit Expenditures. In addition, WHEDA is establishing a pilot early stage investment fund that would provide between $2.5 million to $4 million to early stage high tech firms over the next five years;
  • Helping manufacturers become more competitive by establishing a Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, and providing $1.5 million to help manufacturers assess their ability to compete, adopt new technology, and improve the efficiency of their manufacturing processes. The Council will make funding recommendations in performance benchmarking, supply-chain development, new technology or product development, and lean manufacturing;
  • Introducing legislation providing sales tax exemption for inputs in the bio-manufacturing industry. Although companies growing inputs such as tissue or cell cultures for sale to biotechnology companies for research and development have the characteristics of manufacturing or farming, they do not meet the requirements to qualify for sales tax exemptions currently. Gov. Doyle will propose new legislation to create an exemption for businesses creating research inputs that are sold to businesses and governmental units for exclusive and direct use in research and development to encourage expansion of the biotechnology industry in Wisconsin;
  • Increasing the minimum number of math and science credits high students need to earn before graduation
  • Directing the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to pilot regional economic development initiatives led by the private-sector, two of which are currently underway in the Greater Milwaukee and Fox Valley areas. The Department of Commerce is also creating a voluntary pilot program that gives the communities the option to consolidate their economic development funds at a regional level to gain administrative efficiency, a broader deal pipeline to invest in, and new flexibility in investing the money.
  • Hiring a Rural Entrepreneurship Specialist within the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to help farmers find new business opportunities in grazing and organic food production.

The agenda builds from the Gov. Doyle's first Grow Wisconsin plan, released in September 2003. Since then, according to the governor's office in materials accompanying today's announcement, the governor has signed nearly every piece of legislation called for in the original plan.

The 50-page Grow Wisconsin: The 2005 Agenda is available at: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=4787&locid=19