2014 will be the year to
PICK UP the PACE

President Barack Obama says the U.S. economy is poised for a “breakthrough year” in 2014. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says the state is poised for impressive growth in job creation in 2014.

Of course, Obama and Walker are political polar opposites. But as the New Year begins, it appears both of them may prove to be correct.

To be sure, most employers are casting one wary eye on the uncertainties of employee health care costs as the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

However, a BizTimes analysis finds plenty of signs of hope for the economy, both nationally and in Wisconsin, for 2014.

Nationally:

  • The Gross Domestic Product surprised economists with a hearty 4.1-percent jump in the third quarter of 2013.
  • The U.S. stock market has been busting at the seams with record highs.
  • The housing market is rebounding, with spending on new home construction rising at its fastest pace since 2008.
  • U.S. automotive manufacturers are reporting record sales.

In Wisconsin, Walker famously promised to create 250,000 jobs in his first term. The state’s job creation needle has been stubbornly lethargic.

However, surveys of members of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, the Council of Small Business Executives and readers at BizTimes.com (see accompanying articles in this special edition of BizTimes Milwaukee) reveal growing optimism about revenues, profits and new hiring for 2014.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate stands at 6.3 percent, below the national average of 7 percent.

“The outlook for our state is bright,” Walker said. “Unemployment is down. Revenue is up. Small business owners are creating jobs and feeling optimistic about the future. My goal, as your governor, is to help make sure the young people in our state, including my own sons, inherit an even better Wisconsin than the one we did, and we are right on track.”

Indeed, a BizTimes analysis finds reasons for hope with thousands of new jobs in the Wisconsin pipeline.

A search of business expansion news stories in the BizTimes archive produced an impressive list of 36 current large economic development projects in the state (see accompanying chart). Combined, these projects will generate $1.9 billion and 6.2 million square feet of development, creating more than 6,900 new jobs for the Wisconsin economy.

Reed Hall, secretary and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., said, “The top projects are significant, but they represent just a handful of the more than 500 businesses and communities that WEDC assisted in 2013. Whether it is helping multinational companies build new facilities or expand existing operations in Wisconsin, or working with small, innovative startups that need that initial influx of capital, WEDC is here to assist companies of all sizes and sectors.”

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