Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
February 2007
EntrepreneurshipWeek USA Will Celebrate Wisconsin's Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ten years ago, Google was an entrepreneur's bright idea. Today, it has ten times the market value of General Motors.

Today's business climate rewards entrepreneurs - those individuals who can change gears quickly to adapt and innovate. Our economy looks favorably on those who see opportunities, seize those opportunities, and find their way to prosperity through innovation.

That's why I'm excited that the week of February 25-March 2, 2007 has been designated as the first national "EntrepreneurshipWeek USA". Entrepreneurs will account for 80 percent of all new jobs in the 21st century. And let's remember that Entrepreneurs have been responsible for two-thirds of all inventions and 95 percent of business innovations since World War II.

Here in Wisconsin, we can point to some great companies started by an engineer in a garage or at a kitchen table: Harley Davidson, Milwaukee, whose motorcycles set the quality standard around the world; Quad Graphics, Pewaukee, now one of the nation's top printers; Tomotherapy, Madison, whose innovative cancer treatment has helped it grow to 300 employees in less than ten years; St. Croix Rod and Reel, Park Falls, the only fishing-rod firm where engineers and rod designers work side by side.

Entrepreneurship is more prevalent than many people realize. Nationally, over six percent of those over 18 years old - or more than 250,000 Wisconsin adults at any one time—are attempting to create new enterprises. And their number is growing. Over the last three years, the Department of Commerce has helped start Inventors and Entrepreneurs Clubs in more than 40 counties. The Juneau County Club has over 300 members.

Gov. Jim Doyle's commitment to developing a positive entrepreneurial climate has helped fuel the unprecedented level of interest in entrepreneurship in Wisconsin. He signed legislation providing $91 million over ten years to encourage investment in high-growth firms. He also created the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network (WEN), which channels a wide variety of resources to entrepreneurs at over 50 intake centers, and has served more than 20,000 entrepreneurs in the last 18 months. These initiatives have improved both access to capital and technical assistance for our Wisconsin start-ups.

The Governor and I want Wisconsin to be the state of new ideas and innovation. Today, as I write this, someone somewhere in Wisconsin is creating the next new product or process that will because a household word during this century. Today, more than ever, Wisconsin is poised to help our home-grown entrepreneurs turn their bright ideas into successful businesses.

During EntrepreneurshipWeek USA, we will be observing, and indeed celebrating, the tremendous accomplishments of all Wisconsin entrepreneurs, young and old. Carol Dunn, Commerce's Small Business Ombudsman, has been working with a number of other agencies, including WEN, to coordinate and highlight some of the events taking place throughout the state to shed some light on this very important sector of our population.

Along those lines, I will be appearing on "For the Record," a Madison-produced, Sunday morning news program, on February 25 at 10:00 a.m. with one of the state's most successful entrepreneurs, Craig Culver, of Culvers Franchising System, Inc., and four young entrepreneurs. Both generations will offer insight into how they got started, and what it takes to make it in today's highly competitive business world.

I invite you to tune in, as well as check out the other events taking place statewide, to gain a better understanding of today's entrepreneurs, and the important role they - and maybe even you? - play in growing Wisconsin's economy.

-- Mary P. Burke, Secretary

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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