I just got done yesterday explaining that Wisconsin trails all of our Midwestern neighbors in economic output for the last year, and are especially getting drilled by our neighbors to the West. In fact, Minnesota is adding jobs at its fastest pace in nearly 30 years.
And it's no major secret why. Look at this story that showed up in the Twin Cities' version of the Business Journal today.
Biotech startup Rapid Diagnostek, once a poster child for economic development boosters worried that promising Twin Cities startups were fleeing to Wisconsin, has returned to Minnesota.This is Exhibit A of how TALENT TRUMPS TAXES. Every time. And Minnesota and the Twin Cities are kicking Wisconsin's ass because they are attracting talent while Wisconsin is losing the best and brightest.
The company quietly moved its headquarters from Hudson, Wis., to Plymouth last August, CEO Harry Norris said in an interview last week.
Rapid Diagnostek relocated to Hudson a few years ago in order to take advantage of Wisconsin’s angel-investor tax credit program, which Minnesota didn’t have at the time. The Star Tribune prominently featured the company’s story in an article headlined “A bio border battle,” which highlighted Wisconsin’s strong infrastructure for biotech startups. (The other poster child in the story, Vitalmedix, later closed in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, though some of its technology survived.)
Minnesota passed its own angel tax credit program partly to keep companies like Rapid Diagnostek here, though that had “zero” influence over the company’s decision to return, Norris said. So why did he return?
“The over arching thing was recruitment of talent,” he said. For instance, he tried to recruit someone from pharma giant Beckman Coulter’s Chaska operation, but the candidate didn’t want to drive 50-plus miles a day to get to Hudson.
And Norris, who lives in Excelsior, was tired of making the drive, too.
Since Rapid Diagnostek returned, the company has recruited three people with decades of experience working at Beckman, which typically employs people with the skills his startup biotech startup needs.
It's not surprising, given that Minnesota isn't destroying their public education system, isn't destroying the lives of working people, and is on the way to putting marriage equality into state law while Wisconsin has a gay marriage ban.
A lot of Wisconsin residents seem to agree that Minnesota is a better place for jobs, as Census data indicates that every day, nearly 20,000 people from St. Croix County and nearly 10,000 from Pierce County cross the border into Minnesota for work. Less than 5,000 Minnesotans come across the St. Croix to work in those two Wisconsin counties.
In all, the Census Bureau estimates that nearly 51,700 Wisconsinites work in Minnesota. If it wasn't for Minnesota's strong economy, St. Croix County probably wouldn't have been Wisconsin's fastest-growing county between 2000-2010, and Wisconsin's unemployment rate would probably be higher than its current 7.0% (well above Minnesota's 5.5%).
So with these stats in mind, why in the world would Scott Walker be making fun of Minnesota? He should be cooperating with them and working to make for a strong REGION of jobs around the St. Croix River. And if he wants to poach jobs from the area, maybe he should be working on improving the quality of education and services in Wisconsin to encourage those employed in Minnesota to live here. As Rapid Diagnostek showed, taxes mean very little when it comes to growing companies, but being in a place that smart people want to live in makes a huge difference.
Instead of attracting that kind of talent to Wisconsin, the talent is running away in the age of Fitzwalkerstan. In 2011, 1,300 more Wisconsinites headed into Minnesota than Mud Ducks who made their way west into Dairyland. This number is in addition to all the Wisconsinites that commute into Minnesota for work. With the Minnesota's acceptance of marriage equality and strong job growth, I have a hard time thinking that trend won't accelerate when we see the same stat for 2012 and 2013.
But then again, when did results ever matter to Mr. "Unintimidated?" As long as enough suckers fall for his divisiveness and keep on paying his bills, Walker couldn't care less how far we fall behind Minnesota.
Instead, the trend is working the other way.