2017 was a record year for economic development in our state, as 59 companies from Wisconsin and around the world announced plans to locate or expand here. These projects are expected to create or retain 30,000 jobs and result in more than $11 billion in capital investment.
Global companies, like Foxconn and Haribo, have decided to establish operations in the state, while existing Wisconsin companies like Kwik Trip, Generac and Johnsonville launched major expansion plans.
That good news is just part of the economic turnaround Wisconsin has experienced over the past seven years – thanks in large part to the pro-business reforms we’ve put into place. Our unemployment rate is at one of the lowest levels in Wisconsin’s history. In 2017, Wisconsin’s year-over-year decline in the unemployment rate ranked in the top five in the nation, as did Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate.
We have also saved taxpayers more than $4.7 billion since 2011, and Wisconsin’s state and local tax burden is the lowest it has been in 40 years. We expect those tax savings to grow to $8 billion by 2019.
At the same time, we have invested more than $213 million over the past four years in workforce development to help better prepare workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The current budget adds $148.1 million in state funding for programs such as Fast Forward training grants and youth apprenticeship programs that support workforce development.
As a result of these reforms and many others, Wisconsin is – for the first time – ranked in the top 10 in Chief Executive magazine’s 2017 “Best States to Do Business.” That’s a dramatic turnaround from 2010, when we were ranked 41st.
We have made great strides in creating jobs, cutting taxes, making government more efficient and investing in our schools, but we’re not finished yet. There is more to be done to make sure the economic growth and the gains we’ve made in the past seven years continue. In particular, we must continue to develop our workforce to meet the needs of the ever-changing economy – especially since more people are working now than ever before.
That’s why I have unveiled our Ambitious Agenda for 2018, which calls for investments in our rural communities through our Rural Economic Development Fund, which will spur the creation and expansion of small businesses in rural areas, and the creation of the Wisconsin Career Creator program that will expand dual-enrollment programs and provide training and education scholarships for the Wisconsin Technical College System.
Those types of state initiatives, coupled with the efforts of Wisconsin’s business, academic and community leaders, will ensure that the economic progress we have experienced in the past seven years will continue to move Wisconsin forward.
Gov. Scott Walker