Tag Archives: Tom Still

Wisconsin’s Tech Industry Beyond Dane County Borders

Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, led Rotarians on a virtual tour of the state’s tech scene beyond the borders of Dane County. “Madison stories are great and they’re growing all the time, but I want you to feel good about what’s going on in the rest of the state,” he said.

 He noted that Wisconsin’s areas of expertise have not changed much in the past 150 years, and they include agriculture, natural resources, tourism and manufacturing. However, technology has bolstered all of these sectors. For example, he pointed out that “if you’re not involved in technology in manufacturing, you won’t be in manufacturing for very long.” 

Wisconsin is in a good position to attract top workers in the technology sector, because of its geological stability (no hurricanes or tsunamis), a fully funded state pension fund, a tax burden that has been decreasing, excellent healthcare institutions and a strong education system.

Still showed several slides featuring leading tech companies in Milwaukee, Beloit, La Crosse, Janesville, Green Bay and Eau Claire, and he gave a little background on each. He noted that UW-Eau Claire will host the 2023 National Council on Undergraduate Research convention, which will draw some 5,000 people to that part of the state.

Still closed out his presentation by discussing key Wisconsin Technology Council goals to support the state’s economy. They are advocating for the expansion of broadband around the state. This is the “Rural Electrification Act of the 21st  Century”, he said, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that broadband is vital for the delivery of healthcare, education and even the merchandise of many Main Street businesses in the new economy. Governor Evers has proposed $200 million in state, private and federal funds for this in his proposed biennial budget for the state.

The Technology Council has long advocated for a greater state investment to support technology start-ups. The Governor has proposed $100 million for the Wisconsin Fund, to be matched by $200 million from private sources, if it is signed into law. Finally, the Council advocates for more funding for higher education, including the UW System’s four- and two-year campuses and the technical colleges.

Our thanks to Tom Still for his presentation this week and to Andrea Kaminski for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/hKRRScFHE4k.

Wisconsin’s Economic Outlook

–submitted by Bill Haight; photo by Jeff Burkhart

Tom Still 9 20 2017

Tom Still pictured here with Club President Donna Hurd

This week’s speaker was Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council, a non-partisan advisory group to the governor and legislature. In addition to policy development, the council’s activities include facilitating collaboration between companies and investors.

In promoting Wisconsin as a place to invest and locate business, Still cited the state’s many advantages such as affordable housing and water in strong supply, both of which can be big drawbacks in other states. He also pointed out that despite a perception of being a “high tax” state, Wisconsin’s taxes are steadily decreasing. Also, Wisconsin is finally getting on the national investment community’s radar, with numerous startup hubs, particularly in smaller cities like Eau Claire and La Crosse.

Wisconsin’s high quality of education is another plus. And in recent years the UW System has become more nimble to react to the type of graduate needed in the new economy. “The Ivory Tower is giving way to a more inclusive approach toward business,” he said.

On the state’s possible incentive for Foxconn, Still said: “I think it’s well worth pursuing.” We should ask “How much would you pay to essentially rebrand the state AND create jobs that support families while attracting young workers and offering underemployed workers a chance to retrain?” The Foxconn investment is less than one percent of the state GDP for one year – but spread over 15 years, he noted.

Possibly more important than the 13,000 promised Foxconn jobs are the indirect effects on the supply chain. “For example, a new glass factory or other manufacturer might spring from Foxconn’s material needs,” said Still.

In closing, Still invited the audience to check out 45 new companies presenting to investors at the November Early Stage Symposium (www.wisearlystage.com).

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.