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Bible, Edward / Planning report: annual overall economic development program report
no. 113

Chapter IV: potentials and constraints to economic development,   pp. [unnumbered]-40 PDF (3.6 MB)

Page 38

cited. Compared with most other regions of the state, southwestern Wisconsin businesses are not
facing quite as much difficulty in finding workers. This is especially true at the present time,
and will be true in future months due to recent layoffs. One-half of employers are finding it
difficult to attract workers, and demographics indicates that this is unlikely to improve in the
foreseeable future. One approach to helping employers, says Professor Green, is to increase
productivity and adopt new technology as a means of doing so and ultimately increasing wages.
It is imperative that employers invest in the skills of their workers, as many now do. A declining
supply of labor, relatively higher wages in neighboring areas, and technological changes in
production processes will continue to place pressure on the region's employers to change their
strategies and practices.
In an entirely different project, the Iowa Department of Employment Services surveyed
employers (wage and benefit survey) and households (labor availability survey) in the counties
of Grant, Lafayette and Green in conjunction with a survey of the greater Dubuque area. Reports
for each of the counties of Grant, Lafayette and Green is available.
There are currently two major transportation issues that the region in general is
particularly aware of. One pertains to the recent setback in the scheduling of the four-laning of  I
U.S. 151 by as much as four years due to a lack of funding for this and other needed projects
in the state. This is particularly distressing in light of the fact that efforts to get this highway
improved to four lanes goes back twenty years or more. There have been setbacks in the past,  I
so this one perhaps should not come as a surprise to folks in southwest Wisconsin, but it does
seem to. After the apparent priority that the Governor, area legislators, and the Wisconsin
Department of Transportation have placed on past statewide planning efforts, and the emphasis,
a few years ago, placed on "backbone" highways to connect Wisconsin with the rest of the
country, it seems unbelievable that we are still no closer to completing this highway than the
latter part of the next decade. It would seem imperative that persons interested in this subject
lobby both the federal and state government to try to find ways of increasing revenue for
Wisconsin to put this and other worthy projects back on the original schedule identified by the
Department of Transportation.
In a related matter, there is good news. The City of Platteville recently was notified by
WisDOT, that after considerable study by planners and others within the Department, there is
justification after all for two full interchanges to serve the city, plus a half interchange on the
west side. The issue of contention was whether a full interchange was needed to serve the
Platteville Industry Park, rather than a half interchange as originally proposed. The Department
concluded that their decision was justified on the basis of cost savings for affected businesses and
other pertinent arguments. In exchange, some land use and access controls will be placed on the
approaches to the interchange to ensure that a new bottleneck does not occur in the future,
thereby eliminating the efficiency of the interchange.
The second issue referred to in the first paragraph pertains to the re-designation of a
"long truck route" following STH 81 and other connecting roads through the City of Beloit, a
route that has been in existence for the past six years until January 1996, when the route was
"sunsetted". Two public hearings were held in the area by WisDOT to solicit public comment
on a proposed rule that would re-establish the route in response to requests from southwest
Wisconsin. It must be said that virtually everyone with an interest in this issue can easily

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