Wis. Gov. Walker plans Hudson stop today to declare state ‘open for business’Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is expected to stop briefly in Hudson today (Tuesday) as he travels the state’s borders to unveil “Open for Business” road signs. County workers had to quickly plow the now-closed Department of Transportation visitor's center to provide a venue for Tuesday's appearance.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is expected to stop briefly at the former Department of Transportation visitor's center in Hudson today (Tuesday) as he travels the state’s borders to unveil “Open for Business” road signs.
St. Croix County workers had to quickly plow the now-closed DOT visitor's center to provide a venue for the appearance.
The "Open for Business" signs will be placed along the border crossings where the state has traditionally touted the name of the current governor.
According to a media advisory sent out Monday evening, Walker will unveil a sign at the Hudson Welcome Center, 2221 Service Road, Hudson at 1:45 this afternoon. This morning he unveiled signs at the Illinois border in Beloit and Dickeyville. He will conclude the tour at the Wisconsin/ Minnesota border in Superior at 3:50 this afternoon.
“These signs proudly proclaim Wisconsin is open for business,” said Walker in a press release. “Along with the symbolic nature of these signs, there are going to be substantive changes to the way our state government treats job creators."
Although Wisconsin may be "open for business," the Hudson visitor's center is not. The center closed April 10, 2009.
Eliminating staff positions at Wisconsin’s eight welcome centers throughout the state was one of many moves made in response to the economic crisis.
Tuesday morning, a St. Croix County Highway Department employee and another from the state DOT idled in the newly plowed parking lot, assessing where the governor might pose to make his remarks.
The center itself is inaccessible with heat turned off, water lines drained and surrounding sidewalks drifted with two feet of snow.
Apparently there was talk of Gov. Walker's motorcade stopping near the I-94 sign at the base of the Hudson hill, but that would create a traffic hazard.
The buildings are owned by the Department of Transportation.
The Hudson center was slated to close several years ago but survived a cut at that time. Most welcome centers have direct access off freeways or major roads. The Hudson center required that motorists exit the freeway and travel on city streets -- a change that occurred when freeway improvements were made and the Carmichael Road exit was added, for the dog track in the early 1990s.
The local visitor center attracted about 35,000 vehicles in 2008. Before direct freeway access was eliminated, the center drew about 60,000 cars per year.
Two fulltime and three part-time employees lost their jobs with the closure.
Although she found it "very ironic" that Walker planned to visit the closed center to tout "Open for Business," Hudson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kim Heineman said she'd join with City Administrator Devin Willi, St. Croix EDC Executive Director Bill Rubin, Mayor Alan Burchill and others to greet the governor there.
“The pro-growth initiatives I support stand in stark contrast to those policies being discussed in our bordering states," said Walker in the press release. "These signs are aimed directly at job creators to make them aware that they are welcome here. As our neighbor states make it more difficult for private employers to create jobs, they can ‘Escape to Wisconsin.”
The new “Open for Business” signs will cost taxpayers a total of $1,495 and will be printed by Traffic and Parking Control Co., a Wisconsin company based in Brown Deer. In total there will be 23 signs placed along different entry points into Wisconsin.
Walker said he will provide Wisconsin’s neighboring states with a framework showing how to protect core government services without increasing taxes.