Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Legislators ‘Invest’ in Wisconsin

A bill aimed at fighting the "brain drain" in Wisconsin made its debut Wednesday as part of a package of legislation unveiled by several state legislators seeking to beef up the state's economy.

The goal of the 15-bill package, dubbed "Invest Wisconsin," is to further the venture-capital industry and promote job growth through encouraging the creation of new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses in the state. Though some of the sections of the Invest Wisconsin agenda have been finalized, others are still in the works.

"This is basically a comprehensive strategy to try and make Wisconsin a more attractive place for businesses and entrepreneurs to make their operations," Mike Prentiss, a spokesperson for State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said of the package. Through tax credits, judicial reforms, regulatory reforms, workforce training, infrastructure enhancement and capital investment, the bills are intended to make the business industry in the state more lucrative and profitable, Prentiss said.

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James Michel, legislative aide to State Rep. Andy Lamb, R-Menomonie, co-author of part of the package, said one portion, known as the "Self-Dealing Legislation," would benefit the University of Wisconsin System by promoting retention of the UW's accomplished academics.

The bill would open the door for professors at the state's universities to "market the technology that they develop, and then it allows the university to more ably retain those professors that are developing cutting-edge technology," Michel said.

"The university actually came to us and presented us with this problem because there's a conflict of interest for them doing research at the university and then privately profiting from the knowledge they gain from that research," Michel said.

The legislation is aimed at preventing a situation wherein prominent researchers in Wisconsin are lured to other states where they have more opportunities.

"We're hoping that instead of quitting the university and going off to Silicon Valley to start up a company, that they'll keep their job at the university and start that company [here in Wisconsin]," Michel said.

Retaining top-tier experts in the state will also promote excellence in higher education, Michel added, as UW students would be taught by the nation's greatest minds.

Additionally, the Invest Wisconsin agenda as a whole will help Wisconsin remain competitive with other states in the business and economic world, as another objective of the bills is to keep recent college graduates in the state, Prentiss said.

"A lot of people grow up here and stay in Wisconsin to go to college at one of the UW campuses, but once they graduate, they end up leaving the state to find jobs elsewhere," Prentiss said, adding the state greatly benefits by retaining grads. "The more good, high-paying jobs there are in the state, the better chance we have of keeping our homegrown talent here in Wisconsin."

Thus far, Prentiss said, there is no known opposition to the conglomeration of bills.

"There are some things in there we hope and suspect that Gov. Doyle will be supportive of and we look forward to working with him to put those in place," Prentiss said.

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