Wisconsin economic summit eyes lean times

2010-08-27T00:00:00Z Wisconsin economic summit eyes lean timesBy STEVE CAHALAN scahalan@lacrossetribune.com La Crosse Tribune

Create a lean-government commission to consolidate and improve state and local government.

Dramatically change the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and create a large seed capital fund, separated from politics, to help businesses start and expand.

Let local government officials make decisions, without lots of state mandates.

Those were some of the suggestions made Thurs-day at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse, during the second of three statewide economic summits.

The series, which ends Oct. 5 in Milwaukee, is hosted by the University of Wisconsin System, Competitive Wisconsin Inc., the Wisconsin Higher Education Business Roundtable, the Wiscon-sin Way and the Wisconsin Technology Council.

The La Crosse summit drew 95 participants and focused on critical choices facing the next governor and Legislature in the state's 2011-13 budget deliberations. The Milwaukee summit will build on the results of the first two summits to develop recommendations for the next governor and Legislature.

Two documents probably will emerge from the summits, said James Wood, president of Wood Communications Group in Madison and one of the main organizers of the events. One will be a Wisconsin Prosperity Strategy (the seventh draft was discussed at Thursday's event) for the state's economy. The other document will make suggestions for the next governor and Legislature as they make budget decisions.

Some suggestions the Wisconsin Prosperity Strategy contains at this point include creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem and early-stage capital pools to accelerate new ventures, promote industry clusters through public-private partnerships, accelerate the transfer of technology from the laboratory to businesses, align the education system with the strategic direction of the economy, create a lean government commission and create an Independent Job Creation Board to replace the Department of Commerce.

Mark Neumann, candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, appeared at the summit and spoke about state government and the economy. Two other gubernatorial candidates, Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Tom Barrett, gave speeches by video.

For more information on the summits, visit www.wiroundtable.org/summit.


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