Not necessarily strange bedfellows, yet…
WCA Executive Director Mark O’Connell wasn’t on hand, but it creates an interesting dynamic when you consider that McCoshen has been mentioned as a potential GOP candidate for governor and O’Connell as a potential Democrat for the office. Both are long shots, but neither seems willing to dismiss the possibility out of hand just yet. Anything is possible in the next 14 months and people have to treat you with a little more respect if there is even a remote possibility that you could be signing or vetoing their bills come 2011. And while neither are necessarily household names among the general public, they are very to well-known Madison political insiders. Either would bring a lot more charisma to the race than anyone on the current short lists, which makes for some good entertainment and compelling discussion. These are long-time government relations types, as in, well, lobbyists. They know the turf and they know the players.
“We want jobs and the economy to be the pre-eminent issue of the 2010 campaigns,” says McCoshen. Toward that end, a request for proposals was sent out and economic consulting firms submitted four responses for the $200,000 to $300,000 study. The consortium hopes to have something in hand by next April, in plenty of time to impact the agendas of candidates for state legislature and the governor’s mansion in November’s vote. “No more cluster studies,” he added, saying that state has enough inventories. What Wisconsin needs is a strategy.
It’s not anywhere near the first kick at the cat for this kind of thing; just the most recent.
“Competitive Wisconsin believes it is time for a comprehensive economic development plan that will create a competitive economic climate favorable to high-paying jobs and higher per capita income. We must recruit and develop high wage earners and make strategic investments of taxpayer resources to grow our economy and create jobs,” said Tom O’Neill, president of CWI and senior vice president, Marshall & Ilsley Corporation, in November 2007.
What happened? Well, the recession began the following month and the only news release that follows on the CWI site is one from March 2008 praising Governor Doyle’s Clean Energy Plan. The “Wisconsin Competitiveness and Positioning Study” being planned now should give CWI, WEDA and WCA a lot more to talk about next year, if they can raise the money and pull it off. If McCoshen and O’Connell are still holding hands by the time it is published, then the study may get the respect that it will need to have an impact. And if they aren’t, it may get even more notice.