The College of Engineering on the UW-Madison campus has needed an updated facility for years. In fact, the newest building on that portion of campus is over two decades old. The school is losing qualified applicants to universities out of the state due to capacity and technological issues.
You may wonder why the Fox Cities Chamber would support building a new facility on a campus outside of our footprint. In 2021, employers around Wisconsin posted 16,000 open positions requiring an engineering degree, with many of them located in the Fox Cities. Our members are competing for talent not only nationally but internationally. It’s easier to keep graduates in Wisconsin if they attend school here. These jobs offer above average salaries, with the average open position advertising a starting salary of $69,000/year in 2021.
Todd Kelsey, CEO of Plexus Corp. in Neenah, believes this project is “incredibly important to Wisconsin’s economy. Keeping engineers in Wisconsin not only helps manufacturers like Plexus, but those jobs have a multiplier effect growing our broader community.”
The Joint Finance Committee is meeting TODAY to decide whether the state will fund the project in this two-year budget. The projected cost of the building is over $300 million, and the university has already raised $150 million of that. They are asking the state to fund the balance.
Whether to fund the building with bonding or cash, this project will have direct economic development to not only Madison, but the state as a whole. We will continue to keep you updated on the budget as deliberations unfold.