- A storied history of industry built the Northwoods.
But it was hit hard by a recession in 2008. Now manufacturing is starting to come back.
Factory floors are humming across the Northwoods. Loggers are cutting and managing the forests.Industry looks good.
That's because Wisconsin ranks fifth in manufacturing growth in the US since 2009, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. But Wisconsin Secretary of Revenue Rick Chandler thinks an improved tax system could help manufacturing break through.
"The feeling is that if manufacturing thrives, every other sector of the economy is going to thrive," Chandler said.
That's one reason why the state cut income tax by 650 million dollars over the next two years.
"That involves reducing individual income taxes, creating new business with tax incentives and other things that make our tax structure more competitive," Chandler said.
Chandler hopes that brings more jobs to the state. But he says people might not be qualified for the open positions. That's where Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation comes in. Executive Director Sarah Kapellusch says they bring Northwoods economic groups, trade schools and employers together.
"This is where the employers can come to the table with the technical colleges up here and create programs," Kapellusch said. "It has been very successful in the past."
But manufacturing isn't the only concern here in the Northwoods. Access to broadband is a struggle. And the group knows connectivity could improve education and jobs opportunities.
"We are all working together to get to the resolution of how we get an internet service provider up here to actually get all of us connected," Kapellusch said.
A connection the Northwoods needs to catch up with the rest of the state economically.
"We're definitely heading in the right direction and we're doing everything possible to pick up the pace," Chandler said.
Everything possible is what Wisconsin might need.
Written By: Adam Fox