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Gov. Tony Evers lays out plans at manufacturing conference

Posted: 2:22 PM, Feb 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-21 20:22:17Z
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With his first budget on the horizon, Gov. Tony Evers spoke to a crowd Thursday with a preview of what can be expected.

"The theme of this conference is Make it Happen," Evers said. "Well, as many of you know, next week I'll be giving my first budget address to the people of Wisconsin and, by golly, that's going to be a Make it Happen event in and of itself."

Evers spoke in front of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) conference. He made mention of things to expect in the budget, many of which would impact the manufacturers in the audience.

"There are a number of top priority issues people care about," Evers said. "Whether it's health care, transportation, education, criminal justice reform. But, at the end of the day, I felt the people of Wisconsin are saying, let's make it happen. Let's get something done. Let's serve the people of Wisconsin. Let's find common ground."

Common ground is something Evers will look to find with the person who spoke before him Thursday. Dr. Bill Mitchell is vice president of business operations Americas for Foxconn. He gave a motivational speech to the crowd about staying current in an ever-changing business. He wouldn't go into the politics of Evers-Foxconn dealings, but he said in order to be successful, working together is imperative.

"If we can come together with people who might have been in a competitive space and work together and learn from each other, we're going to be better," Mitchell said. "If we're siloed and inclusive in our knowledge and ability and with technology, then we're having to constantly invent a better wheel individually rather than coming together to do it faster."

One element of the new governor's budget which should entice Foxconn is in education. Foxconn stands to receive billions in tax incentives if it meets certain goals. One of which is the promise of up to 13,000 jobs.

However, Wisconsin posted record-low unemployment numbers last year under former Gov. Scott Walker's tenure, which could pose a problem with filling those jobs. Evers says that's part of his budget plan.

"Workforce retention is always important," Evers said. "We need to fully fund our public schools. As state superintendent, I put together a budget that reflected that notion. Not everyone is going to a four-year college or a three-year tech college. At the end of the day, as long as people understand pathways for them, they are in a good place to be helpful to help grow this state's economy."

"Whether it's health care, transportation, education, criminal justice reform. But, at the end of the day, I felt the people of Wisconsin are saying, let's make it happen. Let's get something done. Let's serve the people of Wisconsin. Let's find common ground." — Gov. Tony Evers

"The more they can do that, it helps our manufacturers get people ready to go to work and can make an impact," said George Bureau, the vice president of consulting for WMEP. "That's a good thing."

Bureau says, from a manufacturing standpoint, working with a new governor will just be different. He's looking at the positives Evers brings to the table, including his passion for education and how that will impact manufacturing in Wisconsin.

"We got to start in middle school," Bureau said. "Manufacturing really is exciting. It's kind of an unknown. It's not manufacturing of old. It's a wonderful career opportunity."

Evers is expected to give his budget address next week.