Another Fab Week in and out of Wisconsin
I've talked before about the magic that happens in "Fab Labs," which are MIT-certified fabrication laboratories where students, local businesses, and inventors have access to a wide-range of cutting edge manufacturing technologies. This week I was in Florence, Wisconsin, with my friend Rep. Swearingen right along our border with the upper peninsula of Michigan, to tour the new Fab Lab at their high school. I'm excited that WEDC now has a grant program to support public-private partnerships with K-12 schools across Wisconsin to bring this amazing opportunity to more students.
From Florence I went to the far other side of the north, visiting Trego for the Governor's Northern Economic Development Summit. Our entire cabinet reported out on the numerous initiatives we're pursuing to bring prosperity north of Highway 29 - people were especially excited to hear about the $1.5 million in broadband expansion grants that were included in our last budget.
From on the border with Michigan to over the border into Minnesota -- I spent Wednesday this week surrounded by the Vikings fans of the Twin Cities. Our team from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation joined me for a day meeting with site selectors, the folks who advise businesses on where to locate new factories and facilities. We don't just talk a good game about northern economic development when we're in Wisconsin; we work hard to make new jobs a reality by going outside the state to attract new investment and opportunity for our workers. This on-the-ground marketing really makes a difference convincing companies that northwest Wisconsin, especially St. Croix County, holds just as much appeal for Minnesotans looking to flee higher taxes as Pleasant Prairie does for Illinoisans.
Economic development is kind of like football - sometimes you've got to throw up a Hail Mary to win the game, but often it's the hard work every day grinding it out play by play, company by company, that brings home consistent victories.
A cold morning and a long line
This morning I was up and out early to visit a Job and Housing Fair for folks returning to society from our correctional institutions. I say all the time that we want every Wisconsinite to realize the dignity of work and the power of a paycheck, because we know a job creates stability and prosperity. For people returning from the correctional system, a job also significantly reduces their chances of committing another crime, which makes it worthwhile for taxpayers to invest in creating those opportunities.
I'm grateful to all the employers who participated in today's job fair, for being willing to give these workersa second chance, and to all the men and women who lined up early in the cold, anxious for the opportunity for a better life.
Creating community and opportunity
Jake's Cafe is the most fund business incubator I've been to in a while. I love business incubators in general--they bring together baby companies and inventors in a community that encourages creativity and collaboration. But why have an incubator in an office building when you can have a cafe/coffee shop/bakery that's also home to a bunch of cool companies? Bravo to Lakeshore Tech College and the Sheboygan community for supporting all the bright young people creating the future--and brewing great coffee.