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MADISON — A collection of headlines in recent weeks spoke to the overall health of Wisconsin’s economy, even if other indicators demonstrate not everything is rosy — even in boom times.

Tom Still


  • For the first time, the total value of property in Madison and Dane County is estimated to be worth more than property in Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. At $65 billion and $64.1 billion, respectively, that speaks to continued growth in the capital city, although Milwaukee County’s gross domestic product is still more than double that of Dane County. Wisconsin benefits from having two Top 100 cities.
  • Promega Corp., the biotech company that set the standard for other bioscience firms in Wisconsin, broke ground on a $190 million facility next to its Fitchburg headquarters in late July and announced a day later it will also move some production jobs from California to Wisconsin. That’s in addition to $150 million in Promega construction during the past five years.
  • Exact Sciences Corp., a cancer diagnostic company that has grown rapidly since moving to Madison less than a decade ago, broke ground in mid-August on a new headquarters building in University Research Park. In addition to its existing facilities in the park, Exact Sciences operates a laboratory on Madison’s South Side and is renovating the former Spectrum Brands building on the West Side.
  • When Inc. magazine announced its 5,000 fastest-growing companies in America, 43 Wisconsin firms were on the list — including No. 1 Swan Leap of Madison, which leverages transportation logistics through artificial intelligence, No. 7 Diamond Assets of Milton and nine others in the top 1,000.
  • Two of Wisconsin’s success stories, ABC Supply and Epic, continue to grow by entering new markets (Epic) or acquisition (ABC Supply) and other strategies. A new entry, Foxconn Technology Group, is planting deeper roots almost by the week in places beyond Racine County.

While it’s tempting to look at individual events or rankings and conclude everything is on the upswing, some broader indicators also point to Wisconsin’s economic progress. Here are metrics from the latest publication of the Wisconsin Technology Council, “Pathways to Success: Four Strategies for Wisconsin.”

  • Net migration of people to Wisconsin has turned in the state’s favor since 2015, when about 7,000 more people left than moved in. In 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Wisconsin added about 6,200 more people than it lost.
  • Wisconsin continues to show a lower unemployment rate than the U.S. average, steadily widening the gap since January 2014. Of course, low unemployment comes with a different problem: Not enough workers, which is why net migration is important.
  • The average salary for tech workers in Wisconsin grew to $81,700 in 2017, according to the national Cyberstates report, which is well ahead of the statewide average salary but still in the middle of the pack among the 50 states.
  • Net tech employment in Wisconsin has climbed every year since 2011, according to Cyberstates, to about 212,000 in 2017. Bioscience employment, which is charted separately, has also increased.
  • Among those states that test 100 percent of students, Wisconsin is tied for first in average American College Test scores. We don’t lack for smart kids: We just need to keep more of them here.
  • Investments in young companies by angel networks, angel funds and venture capital firms totaled $500 million in the past two years and nearly $1.4 billion since 2011, although most of the nation’s venture capital is still clustered in three states: Cali-
  • fornia, New York and Massachusetts.

Some indicators are basically flat, at least in relation to other states: population; real personal income per capita; real gross domestic product; total exports; people obtaining bachelor’s degrees by the time they’re 25 years old; and total patents issued.

Others are lagging: Federal research and development dollars (a national trend); federal Small Business Innovation Research awards; Wisconsin university spending on research and development; and people obtaining advanced college degrees by 25.

The flat and lagging categories speak to the need to reinvest in higher education and other workforce growth strategies. Individual companies can’t carry the load alone. Long-term success depends on the right combination of ideas, investment and a trained workforce. Wisconsin is humming along right now, but it cannot take progress for granted.

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Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.


(10) comments


Shows we need him to win again. As far as Milwaukee is concerned, liberal progressive mayor, enough said.


The former major manufacturing center of Milwaukee County is now worth less than the center of education and government. Just a different take on the numbers.

Rick Czeczok

Make some sense please. We can't read that small brain of yours. Are you not better off then when Doyle ran the state into the ground giving everything to the WEA. And what are the stats on the outcome of that? Should be interseting to see if you report the real facts and not your twisted number. Here's one stat under Doyle, about 60% of the high school students in Milwaukee, didn't graduate. Let's see you work on that well known FACT... Also your name is what so I can check on y?our credibility. No then you don't count.


Well "Rick Czeczok", how do know that's your real name? You claimed to have taught right? But you don't answer anyone who asks where and when. We just want to check on your cred...

Rick Czeczok

You find all your information on Google so google my name you Moron. I have nothing to hide. Now you call me out and I swear that is my real name in front of you and the whole world. Now, what is your name? I deserve the same respectful answer as I gave you. Why are you so afraid? Lot's of skeletons in the closet there big boy? Yup there is.
Not everyone teaches high school so you figure it out. Now you and Casey can go back to the Russian gig as you just keep going back and forth on the same issues with my identity. Give your name or for once shut your yap!!!!!!!

Rick Czeczok

You keep your identity hidden because you have something to hide, period. Do you have a fixation about Buggs Raplin or something? You can't write anything without mentioning him. It's kinda weird if you know what I mean. Now maybe talk to Casey and tell him you figured me out as he seems hell bent over me. Again weird. I don't want to make fun of anyone but knowing ones name adds credibility to what they say. Otherwise your the same thing as an anonymous source, worthless. As for name calling and attacks have you heard the saying "calling the kettle black" you guys wrote the book on it. You just don't like it when it happens in reverse. So what's your real name or do you want to remain worthless...By the way I'm retired and doing well. See telling people about yourself isn't hard. If you have nothing to hide. SKELETONS, lots of skeletons......

Rick Czeczok

Oh I forgot to address the comment you made about discussing things with you. I tried to be nice to you not long ago and you came back at me attacking me and calling me names. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I don't like Benadict Arnold types, so no thanks. Give your real name, and we can meet for coffee...


You tried to be nice to me Czeczok? Baloney. When? All I've ever heard from you is name calling. You do it to everyone you disagree with. It's too bad we can't call up all the old posts to prove it. By the way, what names have I called you? Nope Rick, no skeletons. It's all about privacy and as Raplin and Hey19 told me, none of your business. Besides, you haven't explained why knowing somebodys name would help you discuss anything. You should be able to make your point regardless. You were an instructor at Fastenal! Fixation with Buggs? No. It appears that you and Buggs are the ones fixated on knowing who people are rather then discussing the issues at hand. If YOU weren't calling people names and making claims and then not answering you wouldn't have to worry about who other people are. It took you two months to let us know who you were when you could have just answered if you were not hiding anything. You were asked by numerous people... I've also asked you numerous times how you know Cassandra isn't a woman and you failed that test too. Makes me wonder what kind of instructor you were if you can't even pass that quiz. I would think that you would be more interested in knowing where your buddy Raplin went then knowing who everyone else is. You are one interesting fella.


Looks like Walkers policies seem to be going over well.


We'll see about that...

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