It’s time to grow in Waukesha County


It’s time to grow in Waukesha County

By State Sen. Ted Kanavas, for SBT

Republican legislators are working on an ambitious initiative to grow and transform Wisconsin’s economy. Our plan is called GROW (Growing and Reforming Our Wisconsin) and focuses on ways to provide regulatory relief, strengthen Wisconsin’s infrastructure, increase our venture capital investment and create more higher-paying jobs for Wisconsin residents.
Before the summer legislative recess, we passed the single-sales factor bill, which eliminates the unfair jobs tax. This bill will encourage multi-state companies to expand or locate operations in Wisconsin because they no longer have to pay an unfair tax on the number of jobs created – a tax that many other states do not have.
Many organizations are pointing to this bill when trying to attract business to Wisconsin. In Waukesha County, I have been working with the Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) to encourage the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation-Printing Industries of America to locate its applied technology center in Waukesha County.
The repeal of the jobs tax, along with other incentives we are pushing in the GROW initiative, could make the difference between whether the technology center locates in Waukesha County or in another state.
If we are successful in bringing the technology center to Waukesha County, it will provide hundreds of jobs and additional revenue to the local hotels, restaurants and other businesses, as thousands of people a year would come to Waukesha for printing industry training.
Another bill that will help local businesses in Waukesha County and throughout the state is the utility siting bill we passed earlier this year. The bill will help shore up energy resources and bring down the costs of energy for homeowners and businesses.
This fall, we also plan to pass the financial modernization bill, which brings banking rules and codes up to date and puts credit unions on the same footing as banks.
Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer also announced the formation of the Senate Select Committee on Job Creation in June, deeming Wisconsin "open for business."
As a co-chair of that committee, along with Sen. Cathy Stepp (R-Yorkville), we are hosting informational hearings to gather testimony from business leaders, venture capital firms, intellectual property experts and university officials. Based on their testimonies, we plan to draft legislation that will be ready for the fall floor period.
The goal of our committee is to reduce regulation, lower the tax burden and create incentives to help bring more higher-paying jobs to Wisconsin. Our efforts at a statewide level will also have a great impact in Waukesha County.
With a close proximity to the downtown Milwaukee area and the available office space and land in the Waukesha area, I hope we are able to create a high-tech corridor along I-94 in Waukesha County.
We already have the headquarters for GE Medical Systems in this area, and bringing additional technology companies to the area will bring more business to Waukesha County, which in turn will mean better schools, lower taxes and better neighborhoods.
On Aug. 5, we held the first hearing of our Senate Select Committee on Job Creation, which focused on Wisconsin’s regulatory climate. For several hours, we heard from speakers about the need for state agencies and businesses to work together to streamline Wisconsin’s regulatory climate.
Our second hearing focused on promoting greater venture capital investment and intellectual property utilization. We heard loud and clear that Wisconsin lags behind in venture capital and that strong ideas – borne of research at our universities – don’t get out of the incubator stage because of the lack of venture capital.
According to the National Venture Capital Association, Wisconsin ranks 36th nationally in venture capital investments. Even our neighbors are doing better, with Minnesota investing $637.79 per capita in venture capital and Illinois investing $330.19. Wisconsin invests $18 per capita in venture capital, and we rank well below the national average for personal income. We must do a better job in this area.
At our next informational hearing, we will hear from speakers on the state’s infrastructure needs, including broadband and the state’s energy reliability issues.
It is my belief that Wisconsin must become a leader in the information age in order to provide better, higher-paying jobs for our citizens. We must create an atmosphere that provides regulatory relief, strengthens our infrastructure and supports capital investment to bring the good jobs to our state.
As our parents had wanted for us, we want our children to have the opportunity to live, work and play in this great state. We are working to make that happen.

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I welcome your thoughts on ways to improve Wisconsin’s business climate. Please feel free to contact my office at 800-863-8883, by email at, or by letter at: P.O. Box 7882, Madison WI 53707-7882.

Ted Kanavas represents the 33rd District in the Wisconsin Senate.

Sept. 5, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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