Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why Honda didn't pick Wisconsin

Why wasn't Walworth County chosen as the site of a new Honda plant, which went to Indiana instead?

The Republicans say it's all Gov. Jim Doyle's fault. Too anti-business or something. [My favorite line from the GOP's frothing-at-the-mouth release: "Businesses want to higher (sic) workers, not lawyers."]

The Journal Sentinel tells a different story:
"I wasn't surprised," said Walworth County Economic Development Alliance Executive Vice President Fred Burkhardt, who spearheaded the local effort to lure Honda.

"We knew going in we were a long shot," Burkhardt said. "We knew we were late in the game, and we appreciate the opportunity to have played."

Burkhardt hastily put together a proposal to Honda after reading less than two months ago that the automaker was hunting for a site for its sixth North American assembly plant.

The alliance found two potential sites of 1,600 to 2,000 acres each, both now farmland, and the state offered what Burkhardt called "a very healthy incentive package."

But in selecting southeastern Indiana, Honda stayed within 150 miles of its engine factory in western Ohio, which will supply the new plant. Honda already has two other assembly plants near the engine facility...

Most auto assembly plants now are in a band extending from southern Michigan through Indiana and eastern Ohio and into central Kentucky and Tennessee.

In pursuing Honda, Burkhardt said, Walworth County learned it is crucial to have sites that are "shovel ready," with proper zoning in place and all environmental issues resolved.

The county's sites didn't meet those criteria, which could have significantly lengthened the time between selection and construction, Burkhardt said.

He said going after Honda may yet pay off. After seeing Walworth County mentioned in The Wall Street Journal as seeking the Honda plant, a "major national developer who does IT and life science business parks" called Burkhardt.

He said a follow-up telephone conference with the developer is scheduled for Monday.

"Those are byproducts you get from having gone to the plate," Burkhardt said.


At 10:37 AM, Blogger Cris Wallace said...

This is another GOP/WMC attempt to concoct a "crisis" to detract from Doyle's strong business record/approach, and the reasons are probably two-fold.

One--once Doyle starts spending his money, he has a great story to tell about freezing property taxes, reducing the size of government and the deficit, saving education from republican cuts, etc. More jobs, more economic development, stem cells. Its a good message--Republicans are trying to cut in to it.

Two--Pugh, Buchen and the rest are exasperated by the fact that many of WMC's members are putting their bottom line ahead of partisan politics--admitting that Jim Doyle is good for the economy and business.

As people nationally feel the GOP is out of touch with their problems, is WMC out of touch with its members? Respondents to their own survey identify health care as their top concern. WMC's bought and paid for legislature did NOTHING to address health care concerns for businesses (No HSA's don't count).

Modine dropped out because of WMC's stance on guns. Will others follow?

Med-Mal was a complete fabrication. Wisconsin ranked as one of the best environments in the country for doctors (#1 in one publication). The removal of a cap on med malpractice suits would've been a blip on the overall radar. But just like with the new RedPrairie story, the right has done a great job of getting their distorted doomsday message out there.

They sure have "highered" some good press people to move this message.



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