So, let’s get to the strategic level as Gov. Walker and our legislative leaders fashion a jobs policy for 2013 and beyond.
First, it’s not just about manufacturing. Except in Madison, that sector is ticking up. Great! But it is never going to be the job generator that it was before out-sourcing, lean disciplines and intense automation changed how manufacturing operates. We need to also concentrate on the other state clusters, such as finance, insurance, and information technology. We were in negative territory in those clusters in 2012. Other states are doing better.
Health care, business services and education are winners, too. Emerging sectors like fresh water technology, bio-technology and energy storage hold promise
Second, encourage entrepreneurship in every square inch of Wisconsin, whether it’s great entrepreneurs in the finance sector like Milwaukee’s Kellner, Strong, Nasgovitz, Nicholas, Ziegler and Byrnes or the many smaller shops that spun out of their successes. Ditto with IT and its innovators like Faulkner of Epic and its 6,000 jobs. Ditto with insurance, a longtime strength of the state that has slipped some in the last decade.
We are just scratching the surface of what this state could do if its entrepreneurs were unleashed.
The Goldwater Institute cites evidence that lower corporate and personal income rates help the level of entrepreneurship. Gov. Walker is astutely looking at lowering both in the next budget. Even small cuts would send a strong message about our business and entrepreneurial climate.
He could also jaw-bone our university foundations and the state’s pension fund to allocate more of their alternative investments to Wisconsin early stage funds. Tommy Thompson did just that when he was governor. The governor could create a fund of funds to match private funds raised for venture investments. Early stage capital formation is gaining headway across the state, but we have a long way to go to catch the leading states.
What about Agriculture? You only need it if you eat and it is a large exporter for this state and country.