Governor Announces `Build Wisconsin' Plan;
Wisconsin Economic Summit II opened on November 26 with a series of 10 well-attended workshops during the morning, followed by opening remarks and other plenary sessions throughout the afternoon. More than 900 persons were registered and participating, matching last year's attendance figure.
The first day concluded with an address by Gov. Scott McCallum, in which he announced the creation of his "Build Wisconsin" economic development initiative as well as plans to lead a trade mission to Mexico in early December.
Regent President Jay L. Smith, co-chair of the summit, officially welcomed the audience at 1 p.m., thanking the summit sponsors, moderator Tom Still of the Wisconsin State Journal, and those who worked to plan the meeting. "Wisconsin's economy is at the crossroads," said Smith. "It will take the commitment of everyone in this room and the will of the people of Wisconsin to put us on the path to growth and prosperity." For that reason, he said, "Our meetings today and tomorrow have assumed a new sense of urgency."
was followed by UW System President Katharine Lyall, co-chair of the
summit, who provided a preview of the day's activities. She then introduced
Harry Argue, executive vice president and CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers
Association. Lyall noted that 29 WBA members contributed a total of
more than $51,000 to help make the summit possible. Other summit sponsors
included the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Widget Source.
Keynoter Burrus: "It's a both/and world"
Keynote speaker Daniel Burrus, a well-known futurist, energized the audience with his presentation: "Futureview: Shaping Wisconsin's Future Today." He focused on the need to think in terms of "both/and," rather than "either/or" when it comes to technology, industry clusters, education and other aspects of our economy. We should have both high tech and low tech industries, digital and analog devices, persons with college degrees and persons with skilled apprenticeships.
For example, when you "take new economy tools and put them in old economy companies," said Burrus, "amazing things happen. They reach levels of efficiency that have never been seen before." The goal today should be collaboration, more than cooperation, geared toward making bigger pieces of the economic pie for everyone.
"That's what this summit is all about, in my mind," said Burrus. "If we don't have a shared vision of what we want [Wisconsin] to be, how will anyone else?" He argued for a repositioned Wisconsin "brand," because "people are thinking `yesterday' when they think about Wisconsin." Rather than calling Wisconsin "America's Dairyland," he suggested calling it "Land of Opportunity," as an example of the change that's needed.
"Technology doesn't create cyclical change," said Burrus, "but permanent changes that are predictable if you take the time to look." He cited numerous examples of coming changes. For example, "a lot fewer people will be going to websites because their on-line `agent' will do it for them" and provide the information they want. It's a utilization of the emerging biometrics field. "Humans are born loving change," said Burrus. It's important in this environment to "make rapid change your best friend."
more information, go to www.burrus.com.
"Dr. Doom" offers positive outlook, if we act
David J. Ward, president of NorthStar Economics, Inc., and a former UW System senior vice president, next offered a sobering analysis of Wisconsin's economic situation and the trends it must overcome.
Noting he has been described as "Dr. Doom" when talking about Wisconsin's relative position in terms of per capita income, brain drain and other issues, Ward said the situation is serious but there are things we can do about it. "We have to maximize what we have," said Ward, "and we have to grow some new opportunities."
Wisconsin has done it before, he observed. In 1872, the state faced a crisis as its wheat and lumber industries were in decline. A small group of individuals got together and founded what became the Kimberly-Clark Company. That became the basis for a cluster of pulp and paper companies in the Fox River Valley, an industry that still employs 55,000 people in Wisconsin.
Ward noted that NorthStar is working with Mason Wells on a project designed to identify 4-5 industry clusters as the basis for future venture capital investment. The results of that project will be available next year. He also argued for viewing on-line education as a Wisconsin growth industry, and suggested that the state's motto - "Forward!" - is an excellent basis for a Wisconsin "brand."
"Wisconsin High Tech Opportunities" and the slides presented at the summit are available on-line at www.northstareconomics.com.
The final session of the day featured the report of an economic development task force established by the Greater Milwaukee Committee. James Keyes, chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls, summarized the 38 page document (which is now posted at the summit website - www.wisconsin.edu/summit). He was joined by five panelists, who elaborated on aspects of the report.
"Milwaukee's economy has been creating some jobs," notes the report, "but the economy is not making much headway in terms of income. That will, in turn, limit our economic growth, unless the situation changes." The report goes on to make suggestions in seven major categories:
Paul Purcell of Robert W. Bard & Company said "we need each other, in terms of Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago," adding that "it's really the Midwest against the coasts when it's all said and done," in terms of economic competition.
UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Nancy Zimpher focused on how the campus has worked during the past year to help build a regional strategic plan by "trying to create an entity that doesn't exist across county lines and business sectors." It has required "endless hours of phone calls" to bring all the players together, she said, but the effort is making progress.
Following a reception at 5:30 p.m., the audience reconvened for an address by Gov. Scott McCallum. The governor acknowledged that "we are facing immediate challenges across the state in the wake of September 11," but he stressed that "it remains critically important that we keep our eye on the long term, and that's what this summit is all about."
McCallum announced plans to lead a privately-funded trade mission to Mexico, Wisconsin's third largest trading partner, in early December. The highlight of the trip will be meetings with President Vicente Fox.
McCallum noted some of the initiatives his new administration has begun since taking office on Feb. 1. These include the Biostar and Techstar initiatives with the UW System, creation of the Wisconsin Angel and Venture Capital Association, the airline hub tax exemption, and the formation of nine technology zones.
McCallum then announced the creation of his "Build Wisconsin" initiative, the "blueprint for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to ensuring that Wisconsin's economy strengthens and grows," an effort that "for the first time ever, [will] bring together all players in the Wisconsin economy with the goal of creating a coordinated, vibrant and realistic business plan for economic development."
He also discussed "Wisconsin Jobs for Wisconsin Grads," an effort by the UW System to post job openings on the Internet specifically targeting UW System students and alumni. The service will be free to employers. He also announced a goal of increased federal funding in Wisconsin. "Because we represent 1.9% of the U.S. population," he said, "I want us to receive at least that percentage of federal funds."
"My expectations for `Build Wisconsin' raise the bar substantially," said McCallum, "because I want to improve Wisconsin's standard of living. We will only be successful if each of us in this room makes a commitment to `Build Wisconsin.' There is no more important responsibility for me as governor than to oversee the development and implementation of this strategic vision. We have studied the matter of economic development over and over. The time for study has ended. The time for action has arrived."
Wisconsin Economic Summit II resumes Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 8 a.m.
Day 2 Highlights | Presentations