Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
September 2003
Doyle Administration Committed to Manufacturing

Wisconsin's manufacturing sector has struggled in recent years, but manufacturing remains a prime driver of the Wisconsin economy. Wisconsin ranks third nationally in percentage of jobs directly related to manufacturing. The Doyle administration is committed to programs that can help Wisconsin manufacturers enhance their competitiveness, invest in new technologies, and gain market share here and abroad. We believe there will continue to be opportunities to expand high-end manufacturing in Wisconsin.

Wisconsinís export performance clearly reveals our potential for growth. Despite the sluggish economy, Wisconsin exports saw a 2-percent increase to nearly $11-billion in 2002, compared to a national decline of 5.8 percent. For the first six months of 2003, the news is even better. Wisconsin exports are up 12.09 percent, compared to a national increase of 2.74 percent. Each of our top 11 markets saw increases. Freight forwarders and banks also report increased export activity.

Gov. Doyle has listened closely to manufacturers and taken a number of steps to improve the stateís manufacturing business climate.

At a time when many other states raised taxes to cover their deficits, the Governor proposed and signed a budget with no tax increases. He also signed legislation to phase-in the single-sales factor tax treatment, which will calculate corporate tax only on the basis of sales of goods or services rather than on a combination of three factors: payroll, property and sales. The new law encourages companies to create jobs in our state, makes us more competitive with our neighbors in attracting companies to Wisconsin, and will result in a net tax reduction of $45 million annually when fully implemented.

The Wisconsin Technical College System provides highly-skilled graduates to our manufacturing sector and also works with companies on a great variety of training applications. The Governor retained funding for this important resource. He also recommended that $500,000 in annual funding be restored to providers of manufacturing extension services. The legislature is funding this program at $100,000 annually.

The Department of Commerce continues to offer an array of financial and technical assistance programs for manufacturers. Nearly two-thirds of our total funding goes to manufacturers. Of the grants we provide for customized labor training, manufacturers receive 87 percent of the awards and 87 percent of the funding.

Wisconsinís regulatory climate has been an area of concern to manufacturers. Gov. Doyle rejected a plan that would have expanded the air quality non-attainment zone to 11 additional counties. He has also called for regulatory processes that are efficient and responsive to businesses, yet at the same time preserve the quality of the environment, the safety of workers and the general health of the public.

The Department of Natural Resources now offers an online tutorial at www.dnr.state.wi.us/permitprimer that allows business owners to walk through the first steps of a virtual permitting process, learning which permits they need to comply with environmental standards and how to apply for them. That agency has announced that it will streamline its new source review and permit processes to make them more responsive to business timelines.

As part of our broader effort to ease regulatory burdens, Commerce led the development of the "Business Wizard," an on-line tool that guides businesses through applicable regulatory issues by retrieving the relevant information they need to comply with existing regulation.

In June, Gov. Doyle created an Economic Growth Council that will act as a collaborative partner to the administration, working with the Governor and me to attract prospective businesses to our state and to implement a pro-growth agenda that marshals the full resources of business, educational institutions, labor and government. Manufacturers are well represented on the council. You can count on our continuing commitment to a healthy and vibrant manufacturing sector in Wisconsin.

--Cory L. Nettles, Secretary

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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