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Walker says priority is still on creating and saving Wisconsin jobs


WAUSAU, WI (WSAU)  -  It’s all about jobs.  So says Governor Scott Walker.

In Wausau Tuesday, he congratulated Collaborative Consulting on creating over 70 new hi-tech jobs in its first year. He also recognized there are existing employers concerned about keeping the hundreds of jobs they already have.

One of those is Wausau Paper. The Mosinee based manufacturer has recently decided to close Brainerd Minnesota, and has Rhinelander and Mosinee up for sale. Walker says the state wants to help Wausau Paper or a potential buyer keep those plants operating in the black.  "Both of those sites in Mosinee and in Rhinelander do exceptionally well, and we want to make the case that, not only for their instance, but as far as a partner from the state, if they have a prospective buyer we're going to do everything in our power to make sure it's profitable for them to be here and grow here in the state of Wisconsin.”

A Stevens Point technology firm may be forced to give up it’s Wisconsin client base due to the state’s procurement process.  Skyward makes school software, and recently lost the bid to become the Department of Public Instruction’s sole provider of student information software. Skyward has challenged that award, and the appeal process is underway. Walker says he’s certain the state can still help Skyward maintain and grow Wisconsin jobs.  "No matter what happens with the ultimate appeal process, we're going to be in a position to help Skyward stay in the state of Wisconsin regardless of procurement issues because we want them and the jobs that are here.  It would be very difficult for a company like that to find the kind of talent they have here in Wisconsin.  We want to make it even more irresistible (to stay).”

Walker ran for office with an aggressive goal of creating 250 thousand new jobs in his first four years. He admits that’s a tall order, but also says his administration’s job creation figures are better than his predecessor.  "Last term, there were 150 thousand jobs lost in the state.  By any measure and any circumstances, we're well ahead of where we were in the last term.  The kicker is 250 thousand jobs by 2015.  It's an ambitous goal.  We're about halfway through, there.  The numbers through the end of 2012 through the federal government don't come out until June so we won't know where the first half of my first term in office is.”

Walker signed legislation Wednesday that provides an extra 15 million dollars in matching grants to job training groups. This is to train people for the jobs employers are having trouble filling due to the need for modern technical work skills.