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Walker unveils economic development proposal

Published On: Feb 07 2013 03:32:42 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 07 2013 06:42:08 PM CST

Gov. Scott Walker said he is recommitting to a $75 million economic development loan fund in his next budget, as well as increasing the amount of money dedicated to attracting international tourism and bolstering entrepreneurs in Wisconsin.

Walker detailed those and other parts of his budget at an economic development conference on Thursday.

Walker said other key parts of his plan, like creating a new investment fund, remain in development.

But Walker said he will invest an additional $6 million in a fund designed to help entrepreneurs and other startup businesses.

He also plans to make nearly $11 million available to a program designed to help market Wisconsin as a place to do business and add $500,000 to a program aimed at helping veterans start their own businesses.

Walker said he still doesn't know whether his proposal for bolstering investment capital in Wisconsin will be included in his budget or put forward in a separate bill for the Legislature to consider.

Walker said at the Thursday meeting of economic development leaders from around the state that he's still working on details of the venture capital plan. He said the exact size of the fund is still being determined and how best to leverage state tax dollars.

"We're still debating. Part of the ongoing process is not only size but how to leverage other dollars that are on the table, and part of the reason we didn't announce it today is there's some question about whether the most effective way is in the budget or if it's in a separate piece of legislation that could come up before the budget was passed," Walker said.

Investors have long complained about the lack of money available for startup businesses in Wisconsin.

A $400 million venture capital plan was put forward in 2011, but it died amid disagreement among politicians and special interest groups about how the program would work.

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