November 1, 2014

Using infrastructure to draw investment

In Governor Walker’s budget proposal, he’ll present to lawmakers tonight, is $6.4 billion for infrastructure including $824 million in new state dollars meant to build a strong network of roads, freight rail and ports. Walker has said, “An efficient, safe transportation system is necessary for growing our economy and creating jobs.”

Walker’s initiative echoes suggestions of a global supply expert who recently spoke in Madison to economic development officials and businesspersons from around Wisconsin.

Adam Wasserman of GLDPartners said investors are drawn to states that have a “seamless interaction” of well-maintained roads and interstates that can access its growing areas. He emphasized the importance of a strong rail system as it’s the usual method by which Wisconsin exports travel to U.S. coastal ports. Consequently, Wasserman suggested developing strong relationships with the East and West Coast ports that are “major players” in global distribution.

His firm calculated 19 percent of all Wisconsin employment is related to export-dependent manufacturing but there are opportunities to grow that number with the right state resources and global customer base. Compared to the rest of the U.S., the Badger State is 20th in GDP, about middle of the road for its size.

In addition to money for roads, Governor Walker’s transportation initiative adds nearly $11 million to upgrade ports and $60 million for the freight railroad preservation program.