Governor Doyle signed legislation in 2006 to provide incentives that will attract the film industry to Wisconsin. Most state citizens understand the benefits of such a deal. If a film company can make a movie in Wisconsin cheaper than in another state, then perhaps we can get that business here in our backyard. Fine. Sounds simple.
Now Governor Doyle has removed this incentive from his 2009-11 budget proposal, in favor of replacing it with a $500,000 grant program for related activities that create permanent jobs in Wisconsin.
I usually don’t agree with Governor Doyle, but when he takes both sides of an issue, we’re bound to agree on something. And this time, I agree with his current plan. I agree that we need to focus on establishing more permanent jobs.
But more importantly, if we’re going to have any incentives that attract specific industries to Wisconsin, we need to choose those industries carefully. And I can think of many industries that are more important to Wisconsin than the film industry.
For example, what about focusing on keeping certain industries here, and preventing shutdowns and layoffs, instead of bringing in new industries? Talk to the folks in Marinette about maintaining the shipbuilding industry. Talk to some rural farmers about their passion for growing corn and raising cattle. Talk to the papermakers, the lifeblood of Kimberly.
You and I both know why the film industry seems more important. Because it’s sexier. It makes for a sexy news broadcast to talk about Johnny Depp filming in Oshkosh. It’s cool to have Green Bay native Tony Shaloub filming in Door County. And if you were to take a poll, most Wisconsinites would agree that building ships, milking cows and making paper just aren’t very sexy. But it’s who we are folks. These industries are the economy of our state.
I’m not against attracting new business to Wisconsin. But let’s focus on who we are first. Let’s see if we can’t get some news coverage of a neighbor making paper in Kimberly again or of a farm that made it because we didn’t waste our money trying to bring movie stars to Wisconsin.