From the beginning, Gov. Scott Walker said once he took office his focus would be on creating jobs. During the 2010 campaign, he vowed to create 250,000 private sector positions during his first term. To help, he converted the commerce department into a public-private entity called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and instructed it to focus exclusively on fostering business growth, rather than also regulating the private sector. Walker also instituted a number of tax breaks for companies that create jobs here. In this installment of Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis explores the impact the changes are having on business growth. Things are bustling at Cree Ruud Lighting in Sturtevant. Until earlier this year, it had been just Ruud - a firm making commercial and energy efficient lighting. Then, Cree, a company based in North Carolina, specializing in LED lighting bought the Wisconsin operation for $525 million. Construction crews have since broken ground for a gigantic addition.
We try to figure out whether a seemingly unprecedented year in Wisconsin actually does have a historical precedent. Historian John Gurda is the author of nineteen books, including The Making of Milwaukee and Cream City Chronicles. He’s also a regular Lake Effect contributor, and he spoke with Stephanie Lecci as part of our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series.