TOMAHAWK - 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.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - On a busy stretch of Highway 47 near Lac du Flambeau -- where hundreds of wheels spin at 55 miles-per-hour each day -- just one tire drags at a slower pace, pulled by one man: the Tire Man.
"I guess I'm the only one nutty enough to do it, I suppose," Frank Tarantino said with a laugh.
Tarantino lives in Mercer, but trains for marathons in Lac du Flambeau. He started pulling a tire on a chain a few years ago after reading about it in a fitness magazine. People often stop to take his picture.
"Little by little you run a little further, a little further," Tarantino said.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Just a few years ago, crumbling cement, steps, and seats filled Lac du Flambeau's Indian Bowl. Now, a major reconstruction project is halfway done. It will hopefully give people from all over a chance to learn about Native American culture and traditions once again.
"We increase that sense of pride in our community," said Director of Planning and Development Emerson Coy.
Coy still remembers how the old Indian Bowl used to look like.
"It was used in bad shape before that and it was sad," said Coy.
MADISON - A $3 billion tax break bill for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group is poised to pass the Wisconsin Assembly on a bipartisan vote.
Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason said during debate Thursday that he intends to vote for the bill. He is the first Democrat to publicly say he will back the measure that is being championed by Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans.
SAYNER - A needle and thread means more to Pat Andersen than just sewing.
"I started quilting when I was 19 so it's been a passion of mine for a long time," said Pat.
Quilting gives her a community of ladies in the Northwoods.
"Sayner needs something like this, it needs something for the women to do," said Pat.
After moving to Sayner with her husband Don last spring, the two decided to buy the building that now houses Plum Lake Quilts. Pat needed somewhere to put her long arm machine and that eventually turned into a little retail business.
"I mean little and then it grew a little bit and it grew a little bit more," said Don Andersen.
RHINELANDER - Cancer survivors and supporters gathered at Ministry St. Mary's Hospital for the 10th annual Celebration of Life Thursday. The event honors those battling cancer or survivors of cancer and shows people what kinds of services the James Beck Cancer Center offers.
The center's namesake lost his life to cancer, but now others will be able to benefit from his gift to the hospital.
"With his vision and his dollars we were able to put this cancer center here in Rhinelander so patients don't have to travel to larger cities," said Director of Cancer Services Kimberly Hetland.
This year's speaker was Mike Regole, a survivor of tonsil cancer. He spoke about his experience at the center, how family and support affected his journey, and how he ran a business while having cancer.
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