Walker at economic summit


Staff Writer

BEECHER, Wis. – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in Beecher on Monday to deliver opening remarks at the annual Governor’s Northern Wisconsin Economic Development Summit.

This year’s summit, which was held at the Four Seasons Island Resort, attracted 150 business leaders from all over northern Wisconsin.

Walker explained that the main goal of the summit is to connect these leaders with resources in state government so they can explore areas for growth and development.

“This region is an integral part of the state’s economy,” he said. From tourism to forestry to manufacturing, the northern part of the state has so much to offer and so much to build on.”

Walker felt that Wisconsin has experienced great economic progress over the past four years. He pointed out that 13,000 new businesses have opened and the unemployment rate has decreased from 9.2 percent to 6.5 percent.

“We have some exciting times here in the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “We’re excited about where the future’s going.”

According to Walker, job creators are looking for a trained workforce, easy access to transportation and the internet, and an area that can provide a high quality of life.

Walker said that he has promoted worker education through Wisconsin Fast Forward, which supplies grants for employer-led worker training programs, and by encouraging high school students to pursue technical careers.

“We should be celebrating our sons and daughters who go to two-year schools instead of four-year universities,” he said. “We need to break that stereotype that one is better than the other.”

In addition, Walker noted that the state has invested $6.4 billion into transportation so businesses can get their products to market and tourists can travel.

As for internet access, the state contributes funding to the Wisconsin Broadband Expansion Grant program.

“Reliable broadband is necessary to connect consumers and businesses with state, national, and international markets,” said Walker. “Our rural communities need access to affordable, high-speed internet service in order to fully participate in the global economy,”

Finally, Walker said that Wisconsin can offer a better quality of life through convenient access to healthcare facilities.

Other speakers on Monday included New North Executive Director Jerry Murphy, representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Technical College system, and the University of Wisconsin system, and secretaries of the state’s tourism, transportation, natural resources, revenue, and agriculture, trade and consumer protection departments.

The summit continued this morning with a keynote address from Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, a panel discussion about regional workforce strategies, and various presentations.

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