WI Gov. puts 'open for business' on state's welcome signs

3:12 PM, Jan 19, 2011   |    comments
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  • WI Governor puts "open for business" on state's welcome signs
  • WI Governor puts "open for business" on state's welcome signs
  • WI Governor puts "open for business" on state's welcome signs
  • WI Governor puts "open for business" on state's welcome signs
    

HUDSON, Wis. -- Motorists who make the daily trek from Minnesota into Wisconsin used to see a "Wisconsin Welcomes You" message with the Governor's name beneath it. Well, there's a new Governor, who doesn't want his name on the sign.

"It is certainly a symbolic gesture, but it's also a substantive gesture," Republican Governor Scott Walker said in Hudson Tuesday.

WisDOT workers then put the words "open for business" in place of Walker's name on the welcome sign high above the St. Croix River.

"We've been working on legislation as part of a special session on jobs to send that very clear message, we're going to lower the tax burden on businesses," Gov. Walker said.

"I'll look for those signs and we'll have to get some going in the other direction," newly elected Minnesota Representative Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury said. Kieffer gets the message; She campaigned on the importance of job creation and she drives by an empty 450,000 square foot office building every day on her way to the capitol.

We asked Kieffer if the words "open for business" were fighting words. "Bring it on. I think they might be. There is some competition, but competition's healthy," the Representative explained.

Perhaps no one knows more about that competition than Mark Lofthus, the Director of Business and Community Development for the MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development.

"We're open for business too. We've had our share of wins and we've competed with Wisconsin in the past," Lofthus explained.

"Last year we identified 86 companies in Minnesota that invested in fairly large projects. Those kind of expansions, that's the foundation of our economy," Lofthus said, adding that job retention and growing the current industries in the state are both just as important as bringing new businesses in.

Those new "open for business" signs will go up at 23 border crossings in Wisconsin. Recently, Wisconsin's Governor threw a shot across the border at Illinois, saying "in these challenging economic times while Illinois is raising taxes, we are lowering them. Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, 'Escape to Wisconsin."

It seems the competition for big business is fueling a little border battle around the state of Wisconsin.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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