A state lawmaker wants to restore the rural focus to a state jobs program. State Representative Scott Suder, the Abbotsford Republican who was lead author of legislation that created the Enterprise Zone program in 2005, says something happened on the way to the bill becoming law. “Unfortunately Governor Doyle, when the bill made it through the legislature, he used his veto to take out the word rural,” said Suder, with the result that the first ten million dollars in the program was sent to urban areas. “He took that money and sent it to places like Madison and Milwaukee.”
Suder said that while there’s nothing wrong with job creation in Madison and Milwaukee, that was never the intent of the legislation. “This was never intended to be an urban jobs act, it was supposed to be a rural jobs act, to help rural areas of our state.” Suder’s bill would require the Department of Commerce to designate two Enterprise Zones in communities of less than 5,000 and two in communities of 5,000 to 30,000, to ensure that rural communities are at least given consideration for development dollars.
“Even though the legislature is out of session, I’m hoping the bill gets a hearing, and I’m hoping we can actually pass this. Jobs should be our first priority, and I’m hoping the Democratic majority feels the same way.” The EZ program, as created five years ago, was originally intended to help attract businesses and retain jobs exclusively in rural Wisconsin.