For years, I have wondered what would be the perfect business to bring to Wisconsin Rapids to increase employment and salaries. Yet, I remain puzzled.
After arriving in Rapids, I made a comment about the smell of the mill and was told "we call that the smell of money." Consolidated Papers was the major employer with the remainder of the community comprised of smaller support businesses.
Thankfully, Renaissance Learning was a survivor providing a number of jobs despite not being really utilized by the Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools (WRPS) until after the Larry Nash grant. Thanks also to the cranberry industry for the jobs in the area.
However, after the sale and downsizing of Consolidated to Stora Enso and now NewPage, where are the new jobs? We have had mayors talk about attracting new business to the area and job creation, but we have continued to lose residents and also children from our school system causing less state aid.
I doubt anyone would disagree that we need many good paying jobs to support our other businesses like gas stations, grocery and other stores along with our restaurants, but here is the problem.
It seems every time a business talks about moving into our area, we immediately get people opposed to it. Think about those who opposed the slaughter house, heavy trucks hauling on our roads, the corporate farm and the other businesses. Now I am not specifically supporting any of these.
Sarcastically, I know a pencil sharpening factory would create all those shavings and graphite and helping God create angels would probably cause dust from the flutter of their wings. Yet, where is the pristine business with 4,000 jobs that has no type of disruption to the status quo with a starting salary of $40 per hour?
What are we losing by seeking only "perfection?"
Get this. I left Rapids on a five-day trip to Nebraska. During that time, gasoline prices dropped 15 cents in Nebraska, 9 cents in Iowa, 6 cents in Tomah, but only 1 cent in Rapids. Does this greed attract new business?