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Wisconsin Business Climate

About Wisconsin
Wisconsin became a state in 1848 and today nearly 5.7 million people call the Badger State home.  The derogatory term of “badger” was used to describe early lead miners, who lived in their mining holes. 

The state built its economy based on four major industries: agriculture, manufacturing, shipping and mining.  Today the largest economic drivers in Wisconsin are manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.  Wisconsin is also a leader in the lumber industry.  More land in Wisconsin is devoted to lumber production than for any other use including agriculture. 

Although regularly depicted as an agrarian state, Wisconsin is actually a manufacturing state.  Wisconsin has the highest percentage of workforce directly involved in manufacturing nationwide.  As the United States is the world's largest manufacturing nation, Wisconsin can be considered a hub of world-wide manufacturing.  Name-brand companies such as Harley Davidson, Mercury Marine, Briggs and Stratton, Kohler Company, and Oshkosh Truck are all headquartered in Wisconsin and understand the advantages of being located in Wisconsin, which starts with our citizens. 

This growth of many companies is made possible by our state-wide technology school system, the first of its kind.  Over 4,500 industrial and engineering technicians graduate annually from Wisconsin schools.  In addition, the state operates 26 two- and four-year college campuses, in one of the most comprehensive higher-education systems in the world.

Wisconsin also has a very low cost of living, when compared to the national average.  Our crime rate is one of the lowest in the country.  Our primary and secondary schools consistently outperform the national average in math, science, reading and graduation rates. 

Located within 500 miles of Wisconsin is 33% of all U.S. population, 36% of all US capital investment, and 31% of all U.S. and 46% of all Canadian manufacturing firms. As a percentage of employment, Wisconsin is always 1st or 2nd in manufacturing jobs. 


Wisconsin Taxes
Wisconsin has a reputation of being a high business tax state.  When it comes to just looking at the states corporate tax, that may be true.  However, Wisconsin has no taxes on inventory or equipment, no state inheritance tax, or state utility tax.  Wisconsin is consistently ranked in the bottom half of total business taxes collected by states.  A recent study by the Council On State Taxation, performed by Ernst & Young LLP in April 2011, ranked Wisconsin taxes on new investment the 4th lowest in the nation.  Click here to see the study entitled "Competitiveness of State and Local Business Taxes."


Workmans’ Compensation Rates
Wisconsin’s workmans’ compensation rates are one of lowest in nearly every industry when compared with its neighboring states.  Click here to view the rates when compared to other midwest states. 


Learn more about Wisconsin from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.