Creating Jobs and Helping Wisconsin Tap Global Markets

On Tuesday, September 27, 2012, David J. Ward, CEO of Northstar Economics, UW- Oshkosh and UW- Green Bay Emeritus Professor of Economics, and Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters (WASAL) Foundation Board member, will speak at the Marathon County Public Library for a WASAL Academy Evening entitled “Direct Foreign Investment: Creating Jobs and Helping Wisconsin Tap Global Markets.” The event was co-sponsored by WASAL, the Center Right Coalition, Marathon County Public Library; and the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service. Ward will examine data, statistics and visuals tracking changes and trends in the global economy, current foreign investments in Wisconsin, and state connections that bolster foreign business potential.

According to a UW Task Force on International Economic Development, Wisconsin could do more – a lot more – and needs to take advantage of direct foreign investment because of the rise of global markets, the need for new jobs, and the opportunities presented by Wisconsin’s regional assets and international connections. One impediment may be fears and concerns over DFI, such as foreign companies stealing technologies, and the influence of foreign money on the U.S. economy and politics. Ward says that these fears need to be put to rest: in truth, Wisconsin is benefiting from foreign firms bringing their own capital, which infuses money into the State’s economy, creates local jobs, and produces goods that can be exported to foreign markets.

Wisconsin currently has foreign investments that come from 27 different countries, primarily in the European Union, Canada and Japan, and primarily in the manufacturing and shipping industries. Examples of Wisconsin foreign investments include: Alliance Laundry Systems, owned by Ontario Teacher’s Retirement with a DFI of $450 million; Seda International (Italy), with a packaging plant in Kenosha for a DFI of $76 million; and Thomas Magnete GmbH (Germany), with a manufacturing plant in Brookfield and a DFI of $3 million.

Entrepreneurial financing, coupled with a knowledgeable workforce and university connections to foreign partnerships, Ward says, are keys to optimizing Wisconsin’s future in attracting direct foreign investments. Further DFI can be encouraged through:

  • Creating “Sister Cities” that Wisconsin shares with other countries around the world.
  • Contacts with UW Alumni living abroad
  • Cultivating further relationships in areas where the State has international college exchange programs
  • Tapping into the cultural heritage of WI residents
  • Focusing on emerging markets

In this manner, the groundwork can continue to be laid to improve Wisconsin’s standing on the increasingly competitive world stage.