Old-fashioned factories and farms outweigh biotech hopes

By Kay Nolan,  June 19, 2013

Kay Nolan is a contributing writer for WisBusiness.com. This article ran in the June 19, 2013 issue.

MILWAUKEE — Manufacturing and dairy farming still drive Wisconsin’s economy and are the key places to focus future resources, despite struggles during the Great Recession and despite a disdain in some sectors for those industries’ old-fashioned, blue-collar image, a comprehensive new study shows.

But enthusiasm in recent years for promoting Wisconsin as a biotech or life sciences hub isn’t realistic — at least when it comes to allocating the resources of
the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a WEDC representative and an industry analyst told members of the Milwaukee Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Lee Swindall of the WEDC and John Brandt, CEO of MPI Group, which compiled the data, discussed findings of the newly released, 611-page Wisconsin Economic Future Study. It identified “driver industries” in the state and ranked them by change in growth, production and competitiveness since 2003.