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Business shouldn't stop at the border, says Doyle

RIVER FALLS -- In terms of business, what's good for Wisconsin is good for Minnesota and both states have a lot to offer the world, said Gov. Jim Doyle, addressing participants at last week's I-Q Corridor Investors' Symposium.

The I-Q Corridor--a designation applied to the area between Chicago and the Twin Cities--is touted as an area rich in ideas, innovative workers and intellectual property.

Last week's gathering, held in the new UW-River Falls student center, was organized by the Wisconsin Technology Council whose projects include the Wisconsin Angel Network, the Wisconsin Innovation Network, the Wisconsin Security Research Consortium and the Governor's Business Plan Contest.

"My understanding of this conference is how do we get Minnesota money coming into Wisconsin," said Doyle, saying the states need to be sure they are building on technological and scientific advances.

The governor, who recently returned from a trade mission to China, said the two states shouldn't focus on competing with one another, but rather on holding out to the world the opportunities existing here.

A strong and thriving Twin Cities economy is important to the economic health of Wisconsin just as a strong, growing Wisconsin is good for Minnesota, said Doyle.

"We live by some very basic values...we value hard work," said Doyle, adding the two states are still places where people can do business on a handshake.

Doyle told of having dinner with Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric.

He recalled Welch said, "You know, Wisconsin is the best state in the country in which we do business."

The quality of the people is second to none, said Doyle. They are punctual, take pride in their work, help others and know how to work as a team.

Also, said Doyle, Wisconsin is committed to education and has "the best public education system that you will find anywhere in the country."

The results of the commitment to secondary education are paying off, said Doyle, referring to the results of research in areas such as embryonic stem cells.

"It is the quality of these higher education institutions that make our state stand out," said the governor.

He learned from China's minister of education UW-Madison has the third highest number of Chinese students of any university in the nation.

"When they go back to China, we have a friend (there)," said Doyle.

He said the Japanese and Chinese recognize Wisconsin as the site of the University of Wisconsin.

"It is what puts us on the map, and it is what attracts people from around the world to our state," said Doyle.

That reputation is national as well as global, said Doyle. His cabinet includes five people who didn't grow up in Wisconsin, but came here to study at UW campuses.

As the United States turns to alternative fuels, Wisconsin and Minnesota must make sure this is the region in which the country's energy problems are solved, he said.

Doyle said the region has the farm products, the research and the technology to meet that goal.

The governor said he has worked with venture capital networks to attract capital, but now people with money to invest come to him to see how to get access to "the great ideas that are here."

Among the state initiatives to support economic growth, Doyle pointed to Act 255, which provides "well-targeted tax credits" to leverage investments.

Calling education "the infrastructure of ideas," Doyle said the most important role of the state's government is to ensure Wisconsin's K-12 schools, technical colleges and universities are prepared to support the high tech business of tomorrow.

The economic future lies in education, said Doyle.

He urged businesses in the two states to share their money, their good ideas, their capital and their business know-how.