Wisconsin receives high marks for construction business climate

MADISON, WI -- Wisconsin has an excellent business environment for construction contractors, according to new state rankings released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard” reviews and ranks state-specific information significant to the success of the commercial and industrial construction industry. Wisconsin’s ranking rose to 15th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2017, compared with 21st in 2016 and 26th in 2015.

The scorecard, at meritshopscorecard.org, identifies states that have established solid, free-enterprise environments for contractors or where economic improvements are needed. The rankings are based on seven criteria: project labor agreements; prevailing wage; right-to-work; public-private partnerships; construction job growth; workforce development incentives; and career and technical education.

“Wisconsin’s improvement is dramatic, but not surprising given the common sense policies advanced by the State Legislature and Governor Walker,” said John Mielke, president of ABC of Wisconsin. “Wisconsin policymakers are restoring our state to a free enterprise-based, business environment that allows contractors and other businesses to grow while protecting taxpayers from inflated costs,” said Mielke.

Over the past two years, Wisconsin passed Right-to-Work, Project Labor Agreement and Prevailing Wage legislation, all of which have contributed to the higher marks.

The merit philosophy is the belief that people and companies succeed because of free enterprise principles within the free market system, which is characterized by open and fair competition for all. Those who adhere to the philosophy believe employees and employers have the right to determine wages and work requirements through either individual or collective bargaining, as they choose, within the boundaries of the law and the free market. To have free enterprise, it is incumbent upon all branches of government to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and for government to award contracts based on merit to the lowest, responsible bidder, regardless of labor affiliation.

The Merit Shop Scorecard was developed with input from ABC chapters and industry stakeholders across the country. Criteria and definitions are available on meritshopscorecard.org. The scorecard is updated with exclusive state construction unemployment rate estimates from economist Bernard Markstein, Ph.D.