Current Issues

Jobs and the Local Economies


The back bone of the economy in northern Wisconsin is a diverse, strong, small business sector.   These businesses range from agriculture to small industry; healthcare to tourism, and they all face challenges that their counterparts in more densely populated parts of the state do not experience.

Any economy stands squarely upon infrastructure:  a foundation of communication, education and transportation that exists within a larger natural environment that is healthy and protected.  A thriving and resilient economy for the north requires appropriate 21st century technology and infrastructure.  Imagine technologies and infrastructures built on sustainable principles that preserve what’s best about our region – our sense of the beautiful and the wild – while creating work opportunities that allow us to thrive.

workersMy two terms in the Assembly, and my experience with Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority convince me that we can accomplish this with smart legislation and infrastructure investment.

Some examples of the practical solutions that can bring jobs – family supporting jobs that last – to our region –

  • Thorough broadband and cellphone access throughout our district with programs that fund public/private partnerships.
  • Economic development programs targeting businesses with 24 or fewer employees (current programs focus on businesses with 25 or more employees, leaving out too many northwoods businesses).
  • Engage the higher education sector to respond to both the immediate employment needs and the overall education goals of an informed and well-prepared citizenry.
  • Establish a forest products business institute to study and assist with long-range solutions to support our forest industries.
  • National and State Forest harvesting policies favorable to local, small operators.
  • Better state and federal highways, and fair funding for local roads.  We need transit solutions to support a growing economy in the 25th District, including rail and harbors.
  • Continued strong support for collective bargaining and supporting the integrity of workers seeking family supporting wages.
  • Support for local agriculture and food networks, and the diverse businesses that grow from them such as craft breweries and wineries.

Mining and the Environment

Any mining operation in Wisconsin must undergo the intensive scrutiny of local citizens as well as government agencies at the town, county, state, tribal and federal levels.  Our communities must be directly involved, and the environmental health of the region cannot be compromised.  This applies to ferrous and non-ferrous mining in any part of the state.

I believe that zero-tolerance for environmental degradation and responsible extractions of minerals are not automatically mutually exclusive. Wisconsin is a leader in environmental protection and the responsible use of resources.  We must maintain strong legislation in order to accomplish both.  Above all, local units of government and citizens must be at the table in all negotiations that affect public health and welfare, and must possess the authority to protect  themselves from harm.

Our area needs jobs, and I know that. I strongly believe in jobs with family-supporting wages. I also know that a diverse economy is the strongest economy and that we cannot be tempted by “silver bullet” solutions.  A diversified mix of economic drivers is what we must seek and create.