|Administrative Coordinator-Margie Quinn-Interim Director||715-635-8242 (Phone)|
Economic activity in Washburn County has slowed over the past year due to the continuing economic downturn and non-confidence in the economy for either starting a new business or expanding an existing business, along with the lack of available capital from area lenders to businesses when they need it most.
In new and expanding business news there are five (5) new businesses plus the proposed expansion of an existing large county manufacturer.
EnergyWise SprayFoam Insulation, Inc. a new 'State o the Art," operation offers environmentally safe spray foam insulation for new construction and retro-fits. The business is located in Shell Lake and provides service throughout northwest Wisconsin. The business is owned by John Hodgett.
The Rusty Bucket and Treasure Chest; both owned by Jason Boucher are Spooner's newest antique dealers. They are located at 125 Walnut Street and the other is at the end of Walnut Street on the corner.
Naturally North, owned by Tammy and Dan Haakenson. The retail business deals in hand-crafted items; creations for the home and cabin; including log furniture as well as carved, sculted, and painted works of art. The business is located on the southwest corner of Walnut and River Streets in downtown Spooner.
Carla’s Custom Window Fashions and Weather Queen Exterior Folding Shades, is run by Carla Ingram, Birchwood, who has been in business and has developed a new product. It is an exterior folding shade used for porches, sunrooms, and enclosed decks. The new product has been developed and will be with her interior draperies to high end clients. She is working with a local manufacturer to construct the support system for the shades.
“Oh Fudge,” a new candy shop has recently opened its doors in Spooner. Owner and operator Bob Haavesan specializes in making homemade fudge and other new confections. The business is located on east Walnut Street in the old Quinn Jeweler’s shop. The business is seasonal and will operate from May until September.
On a larger scale "Jack Links Beef Jerky," with the main plant and corporate headquarters located in Minong, is planning and will be implementing a five year expansion program of the plant to increase the number of smoker units, product production lines and warehousing for finished product. The $5 million project when completed will create an additonal 50-60 full-time employment positions.
Director's Annual Report
The report presented to the Washburn County Board of Supervisors at their regular July 19th monthly meeting covers the period from June 1, 2010 to May 31, 2011 and includes general activities performed by the WCEDC Director for that period. The WCEDC provides marketing and management of the five (5) Washburn County Industrial Development Agency, LTD. - Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) programs used to provide secondary or “gap” financing to eligible new and existing businesses in Washburn County. During the one year period the WCEDC assisted in new loans totaling $336,000. The loans resulted in the creation of 5 new jobs and the retention of 27 existing jobs for a total of 32 jobs in the county. The overall number of loans that are currently managed by the WCEDC is 40 with a total value of $1,809,118 and have been responsible for creating and retaining approximately 230 full-time jobs at an average cost of $7,865/job.
Washburn County's Unemployment Rate Falls Slightly
The State Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary unemployment data for June 2011. According to (DWD) Secretary Scott Baumbach, “The unemployment picture is slightly lower or stagnant as compared to the previous month of May. Baumbach said eight of the 72 Wisconsin counties had lower unemployment rates or no change in June. Of the remaining counties 55 had increases of less than a percentage point month.”
Compared to a year ago, rates were lower in 49 counties and unchanged in three. Menominee County had the highest rate of 20.6% and Dane County had the lowest rate of 5.8%.
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 8.1% , down slightly from May, and down .3% from the 8.4% rate this time a year ago. The nation’s unemployment rate was slightly lower at 9.3% in June to 10.0 in May.
Through January of 2011 Wisconsin’s unemployment remained below that of the other manufacturing heavy Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Iowa and Minnesota’s rates were slightly lower. All 72 counties in Wisconsin had higher rates in January than December, including Washburn County.
The Washburn County unemployment rate rose from 8.9% in May to 9.2% in June, and is only one tenth of a percent below the same rate this time a year ago (9.10%). The county currently ranks 22nd statewide, but ranks fifth in the ten county region of Northwest Wisconsin. Burnett, Douglas, Price, and Taylor Counties’ rank lower in unemployment, while Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Rusk, and Sawyer have greater unemployment rates than Washburn.
Creating New Jobs In Wisconsin
Back on July 1, 2011 the State of Wisconsin created a new economic development financing and job creation agency. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is a new public/private partnership that provides a comprehensive approach to economic development in the State. The new agency replaces the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and is headed by it President, Paul Jadin, who initially served as the new Secretary of Commerce under Governor Walker. Mike Klonsinski, also formerly of Commerce, will be the new Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the WEDC.
The WEDC became a realty as a result of the efforts of “Competitive Wisconsin,” a non-partisan coalition comprised of groups from higher education, agriculture, labor and business from around the state. They provide analysis and recommend action on issues affecting Wisconsin’s economy and quality of life. Competitive Wisconsin put forth the “Be Bold Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Prosperity Strategy,” a comprehensive plan for reinventing the State’s economy. One of the Be Bold recommendations called for the transition of the State Department of Commerce into a quasi-public organization charged with implementing Wisconsin’s Economic Strategy.
Special Session Act 7 created the WEDC in 2011, which coincided with Governor’s Walker’s announcement that “Wisconsin is Open for Business.” One of the Governor’s goals under the WEDC is to create 250,000 new jobs in his first term. Governor Walker chairs the WEDC Board of Directors. The 13 member board is made up of private business representatives State department cabinet secretaries and legislators. Serving Washburn County and northwest Wisconsin, as Regional Development Manager is Dagmar Beckel-Machykova. She is based in Eau Claire and can be reached at 715-874-5265 gmar.Beckel@wisconsin.gov.
Other duties and responsibilities of the former Department of Commerce include administering safety and building codes, issuing credentials for the State’s construction trades, and conducting inspections of petroleum tanks. Regulation and licensing in the State will continue under the new Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) also made effective as of July 1, 2011. The new DSPS Secretary, Dave Ross will now have the responsibility of overseeing an estimated 430,000 licenses and permits statewide. You can contact the Wisconsin-Department of Safe and Professional Services at 608-266-2112, Fx 608-267-0644 or write to at P.O. Box 2658—210 W. Washington Avenue–P.O. Box 2658 - Madison, WI 53701
Wisconsin's New Production Tax Credit
The new “Domestic Production Activities Credit,” law enacted under the Wisconsin 2011-2013 Biennial Budget will reduce the income tax liability for income based on manufacturing production in the State. The measure is expected to dramatically improve Wisconsin manufacturing business. The bill goes into effect beginning January 1, 2013 with annual percentages of taxation being phased in at the following rates per year.
1.87% in 2012-13 with a reduction of state income and franchise taxes by $10.1 million;
3.75% in 2013-14 with a reduction of state income and franchise taxes by $44.2 million;
5.526% in 2014-15 with a reduction of state income and franchise taxes by $72.3 million; in 5% in 2015-16 with a reduction of state and franchise income taxes by $104.4 million in 2015-2016 and $128.7 million in fiscal year 2016-2017 and thereafter.
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue indicated that the tax credits would provide a healthy environment for state manufacturers, and even though it would initially result in decreased revenue to the state, the loss of revenue resulting form the program will be made up through increased hiring, new job creation from existing businesses, along with greater amounts of individual disposable income that will be spent at retail and service providers along with encouraging new manufacturers in the state and attracting manufacturers to the state from outside the area.
State Tourism Receives Marketing Budget Boost