House committee passes bill to study Wis./Minn. business

The bill would commission CSoM to compare the two states’ businesses.

James Nord

Is Minnesota losing businesses to Wisconsin? A state House of Representatives committee passed on a measure Tuesday aiming to find out. The bill, introduced by Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, would commission the Carlson School of Management to compare the business climate between the two states. âÄúWe are really trying to compare apples to apples and get some real, specific data,âÄù said Rep. Denise Dittrich, DFL-Champlin, a member of the taxes committee that passed the measure. Norton said the bill stemmed from a legislative caucus on small business in Minnesota. The caucus received conflicting anecdotes about the comparative business climates between the two states. For instance, alarming reports of Minnesota losing ground to bordering states have spurred a host of legislation to regain a perceived edge, including an âÄúangelâÄù tax credit already in place in Wisconsin. Dale Wahlstrom, CEO of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, said both Minnesota and Wisconsin have positive and negative qualities in terms of business startups. Wahlstrom said Wisconsin has âÄúgood policy and an active university that has created a pocket of excellence in the area of biotechnology.âÄù But he also said Wisconsin lacked some of the infrastructure necessary to sustain businesses. Before the legislative session began, the small business caucus recommended the âÄúangelâÄù tax credit, among seven other advisements. Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the tax credit into law in early April. At least one of the recommendations, which created an online resource for entrepreneurs, passed the House floor Monday, Norton said. However, some members of the Taxes Committee questioned the necessity of commissioning the study. Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria, was skeptical that such a study wouldnâÄôt simply happen on its own if the information was truly necessary. Under the bill, a report to lawmakers would be due before Dec. 1, 2010. Norton said that depending on the results, legislation could be put in place thereafter to rectify any potential problems. âÄúUltimately, we want to fix problems,âÄù Norton said. âÄúSo that would be next yearâÄôs legislation.âÄù