Wis. Government, Gov. Walker Comes North for Summit

Posted at: 12/13/2012 6:28 PM
Updated at: 12/14/2012 12:58 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

The Wisconsin government moved up north Thursday and Friday to talk business and jobs with northern Wisconsinites. It was the annual Governor's Northern Wisconsin Economic Development Summit and this year it was held in Trego, WI.

"We need the north to grow, just like we need the whole state to grow," said DNR Executive Assistant Scott Gunderson.

All eight cabinet secretaries were on hand to talk about economic growth in the northern half of the state. They each held panels and discussions to explain what their agencies are doing this year to promote new business and jobs in northern Wisconsin.

"It's becoming more of a challenge because our resources from gas taxes and vehicle registration fees is becoming more and more constrained," said Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb. "So we've talked a little bit how we've had to make sure we are really prioritizing our investments towards the preservation and maintenance of our system."

Governor Scott Walker said his priority in northern Wisconsin is creating new jobs. He said more jobs could be created if the legislature passes a controversial bill streamlining the mining approval process.

"If number one on our priority list is creating jobs, it just seems mind-boggling the prospect that we could walk away from something that has potential to create up to 3,000 good-paying, generational jobs in the state," said Governor Walker.

The Republican bill faces strong opposition from Democrats and Native Americans, who believe it goes too far in reducing regulations.

But mining wasn't the only jobs topic at the summit. Introducing more manufacturing to northern Wisconsin is also a priority.

"Attracting manufacturing to northern Wisconsin has always been a priority but it's a difficult thing to do. We have to work harder on that," said Reed Hall, interim CEO for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Online education and increasing high speed internet across the state were also big tickets on the summit's agenda, but the main priority was bringing the government up north.

"Folks in northern Wisconsin don't always get to see and interact with the leaders of state government. So I think it's important to come up here and show the flag," said Secretary Gottlieb.