MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday signed into law a bill that will provide $25 million to startup companies in Wisconsin, a move that won broad bipartisan legislative support and backing from the state's business community.
Walker, who signed the venture capital bill in Milwaukee, said the measure will help grow private sector jobs in the state. Only Wisconsin-based businesses in five targeted industries can receive the money.
Democrats in the Legislature had objected to excluding biotechnology and life sciences companies from the money, but the vast majority of them still voted for the measure, which had been discussed for years. It passed the Assembly 91-2 and the Senate 29-3.
Money would be available to companies involved in agriculture, information technology, engineered products advanced manufacturing, and medical devices and imaging. Supporters say those industries are the most likely to quickly create jobs.
"I hope that once success is shown, it will lead to additional measures to increase the amount of capital for new businesses and more Wisconsin jobs," Walker said in a statement.
Republican Sen. Alberta Darling, the bill's co-sponsor, agreed.
"Wisconsin's entrepreneurs never seem to be short of ideas," she said in a statement. "However, sometimes they are short of the capital to turn those great ideas into great jobs."
The $25 million in taxpayer money will be matched with private donations. The level of state funding was lower than many had advocated for, and some lawmakers have said they want to increase it in the future.
Under the law, the state Department of Administration secretary will create a five-member committee which will in turn select an investment manager to run the funds. The investment manager is required to submit quarterly and annual reports to DOA, including an annual audit of financial statements.