PO Box 1278
3243 Golf Course Road
Rhinelander, WI 54501
Phone: (715) 282-5828
Fax: (715) 282-4941
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made a stop at Nortrax, Inc., John Deere’s construction and forestry equipment dealer in Chippewa Falls, WI on March 1st. Walker, told an audience of Nortrax employees and customers that a new proposed iron ore mine, southwest of Hurley in northern Wisconsin could create 2,300 new jobs and mean an additional $1.5 billion for Wisconsin’s economy. Florida-based Gogebic Taconite sought to invest $1.5 billion in the mine site, provided the company could have been assured a reasonable time frame (420 days) in the approval process. Shortly after his visit, the State Senate Democrats along with one Republican Senator blocked legislation that would have allowed this time frame. Accordingly, Gogebic Taconite immediately announced their decision to pull out of the project.
Opponents to the mine site pointed to environmental concerns. “We want to have clean air, clean land and clean water, and we can do that,” Walker said, noting he is pushing for “safe and environmentally sound mining.” Nortrax and John Deere had been active supporters of the mining legislation with representatives of the companies testifying at legislative hearings during the past several weeks.
“Our business covers Minnesota and Michigan as well as Wisconsin” states Nortrax MW Region Vice President Tim Murphy. “We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel here. The reason Minnesota and Michigan have iron ore mines and Wisconsin doesn’t, is because of how the current mining laws are structured,” stated Murphy. “Those two states have phenomenal iron ore mining industries, run by professional and responsible companies who have earned the respect of the environmental community and regulators for many years. Some of the best fishing and hunting in our country is in the backyards of those mines,” Murphy noted. “Wisconsin just had to follow Minnesota and Michigan’s lead. Instead partisan politics doomed the chances for a tremendous opportunity for our northern communities, which continue to suffer from a significant shortage of long term, good paying jobs.”
An added bonus to Governor Walker’s visit that day was the announcement that the U.S. House of Representatives had approved legislation for the long awaited $700 million dollar St. Croix River Bridge project. The bridge would replace the existing 81 year old two-lane bridge that connects Wisconsin and Minnesota. Walker, a Republican and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat praised the action. “This legislation was a top federal priority for my administration and is a great example of bipartisan teamwork that will create thousands of jobs,” Walker said. “The construction of this safer, better bridge will bring a welcome economic boost to the region.”
|Nortrax MW Region VP Tim Murphy presenting Governor Walker with a John Deere hardhat and T-shirt commemorating John Deere’s 175th year in business.
Walker met with Murphy, Chippewa Falls General Manager Eric Brosted and employees of the sales and product support team before his general address. Areas of discussion centered around issues the company and the industry faced, including the forestry markets. Walker has been a strong supporter of Wisconsin’s forest products industry, as it has the great potential to contribute to the Governor’s job growth initiative. “Most of the contractors in these industries are small businesses,” Walker pointed out. “That just happens to be where the vast majority of jobs are created in this state, and anything we can do to encourage investment and remove burdens from our small business leaders is something we will continue to try and do.” Walker was complimentary of the work that the GLTPA and Executive Director Henry Schienebeck does for the industry, and was cognizant of the tremendous impact that our forest products industry has on our economy as well as the impact that mills and independent logging contractors have on the employment of our Wisconsin citizens. “You can tell when you talk with him that he is knowledgeable and concerned about our forest industry issues,” stated Murphy. “He gets it.”
On behalf of the Nortrax employees and customers at the event, Murphy presented Governor Walker with a John Deere hard hat, and a shirt commemorating John Deere’s 175th year in business. Walker’s reaction was predictably, “nothing runs like a Deere!”