Chief arguments led by Republicans against Tom Barrett or Jim Doyle usually end up one way or another with links to media articles or headlines showing Wisconsin as a bad state to do business. On my post yesterday, it happened yet again with a commenter posting an article by Forbes Magazine showing Wisconsin in a crummy state. These aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last polls showing which states supposedly are the best and which are the worst.
If you look at the Forbes article, you’ll see that Wisconsin is #48 out of 50 states. Yuck! The magazine based the rank among several areas where businesses look for in order to build or expand their operations: Business costs, labor, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects, and quality of life. Wisconsin seemed to do pretty poor towards businesses in the economic climate and growth prospect categories – both of which are essential issues being pointed out by none other than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in his gubernatorial campaign! While Milwaukee busts its buns trying to promote itself and landing new businesses, the rest of the state struggles along. Case in point: today’s JS article pointing out that over $135 million was provided in incentives to create or retain 7400 jobs in SE Wisconsin/Milwaukee metro area.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s positives aren’t making a dent relative to the areas Forbes is looking at. Hence, the rankings dip to unappealing areas.
What I found interesting was the quality of life section – you know, the one where Wisconsin ranks #11 in the Forbes rankings. Businesses want a good quality of life not only for their workers, but also their CEOs and executives. That is why Milwaukee has been one of the better areas in the United States when it comes to weathering out the storm that is the current economic recession.
Look at last Friday’s Business Journal, where they discussed Harley-Davidson’s issues and how other cities and states are trying to land their operations. Note that Mayor Barrett is quoted in the article as “standing at the ready” when Harley officials want to open a dialogue with Milwaukee-area leaders to keep jobs here instead of moving them elsewhere.
Articles like the one in Forbes are where Milwaukee and its leaders like Mayor Barrett get slapped in the face for no reason – Barrett is not the governor or the state legislature and cannot make statewide decisions, yet those who oppose him will make voters believe he can. What is failed to be mentioned by Barrett’s opposition are his campaign talking points on the need to make Wisconsin’s business climate and growth prospects healthier and stronger, and how he will do that as Wisconsin’s next governor.