April 1, 2010

CATI's Wagner in Washington: Giving, Getting Insight

By Dave Buchanan, UW-Parkside

When Matt Wagner (left) went to Washington in March, he was looking for a little give and take. Representing the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Wagner was in the capital as an invited guest at a forum sponsored by the White House Council for Auto Communities. Wagner was asked to provide insight into “on the ground” issues and challenges of helping entrepreneurs, companies, and workers create new economic and employment opportunities.

Wagner offered what he called “a view from the trenches” of entrepreneurship.

“Remember, these are Washington folks, they don’t see what’s happening in the trenches as much,” Wagner said. “My focus was on the Parkside SBDC and what we’ve been doing with our partners relative to workforce development and entrepreneurship.”

A program of UW-Parkside’s School of Business and Technology, the SBDC offers entrepreneurs and existing southeastern Wisconsin businesses education, training, and one-on-one counseling. It also connects businesses to faculty, students, and other university resources.

Wagner said he’s seen a doubling in the number of people taking his entrepreneur classes in the last few months as the economy struggles to rebound and unemployment remains high. One of the problems he pointed out to government officials while in Washington—what he called “a headache” for entrepreneurs—is income generation for a start-up company.

“When you are on unemployment and you launch a business, if you start to generate income, you start to lose your unemployment [benefits]. When in reality, you’re still not able to ‘pay yourself’ a salary once all of your expenses are accounted for each month. So, there are some policy implications of more unemployed going into entrepreneurship,” Wagner said.

While giving Washington officials a dose of entrepreneurial reality, Wagner also did some taking. Top on his “to-do” list was taking a peek into the capital’s crystal ball.

“The thing I took away was some insight on what’s coming down the pike,” he said. “Anytime we can get a jump on what new initiatives might be coming out of D.C.; things we can work on with our political leaders, here at UW-Parkside, and also with our economic development partners, we stand a better chance at putting proposals together that might bring funding here.”

Through some dedicated networking, Wagner got a better understanding of who at the federal level is making policy decisions that affect our region. And, indeed, he came home with a list of potential budget initiatives that may be useful in the future.

So, for Wagner, the trip to Washington was successful … thanks to a little give and take.


  1. I like the idea of RCEDC doing nothing useful for years but the press allows them to claim great things. Hell I am going to claim that I invented the internet

  2. We would have more development in the area if the freeway wasn't 15 minutes away from the city. Bring in any consultant, they will tell you that. Until that is addressed, we will be economically challenged.

    KRM is not the answer.

  3. First off you can't make a false claim of inventing the Internet. Al Gore all ready made that false claim.

    Secondly, we can't attract 21st century development when our development people only have 20th century plans and vision.

    When our development folks begin to listen to 21 century ideas being presented locally then they will make progress.

  4. Matt's a great asset to CATI and the community. He's helped many people start new businesses and is incredibly knowledgeable about "21st Century development." That's why he's considered a national and international expert on small business development.

  5. Realy?

    Why did no one from RCEDC go to Wind 09 in Chicago the worlds largest Wind Power meeting in the world?
    Why does RCEDC run from easy green jobs like Urban Agriculture can bring in?
    Why do we see them instead micromanage what businesses can get started in Racine and back such losing efforts as the Uptown Art Project?
    Interesting to note that its the small business not connected to RCEDC that are doing amazing things in the Uptown.

  6. Fees, licenses, mandates, hiring requirements, etc. are the biggest obstacles to starting a business.

    Cut out much of this nanny-State stuff and let people flourish.

  7. "He's helped many people start new businesses and is incredibly knowledgeable about "21st Century development.""

    Really? Many? Like Yokit - that was a bazillion dollar product that was going to be launched into a gatrillion-dollar market? Get on their website - it says "temporarily out of stock" - for years now. What other businesses? Name one that has made a buck and not just drained more tax money.

    Here are a few more questions for this community asset:

    1. What has CATI spent over the last eight years (salaries, trips to God knows where, consulting fees for people to read patents because Matt can't read one let alone write one, etc.) and what has CATI made?

    2. Specifically what was spent for Matt to get his PhD? Why wasn't someone hired who had business experience and this degree in the first place? It must be great to get a job running a facility then get the taxpayers to apy for the degree you already should have had! He runs a technology center, right? Why isn't the degree in physics or chemistry or computer science, not - what is it - middle eastern philosophy with a minor in minority business something?

    OK I'll stop now - let's see if these questions are answered - and if this post stays around -

  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JbGxIR8JTk&feature=related

    What Racine will be like if we do not act now. We to remove RCEDC and folks like Brian O'Connell away from anything to do with fixing Racine. FYI Detroit has a Train too was going to bring jobs and investments

  9. So Matt had to travel to Washington to make contacts and bring back information? Perhaps the CATI does not have access to two significant pieces of technology - phones and Internet. A true entrepreneur has to find information and court decision makers from an office (or basement) - what a dream come true it would be to have the kind of cash on hand needed to go on these fact-finding missions. Holy cow! Maybe a trip to Japan and maybe Australia to give a powerpoint presentation about the Washington trip is in order!

  10. Matt you might want to update your web page and just maybe putout another newsletter. Oh first maybe you need to make some news or do something useful

  11. Pete and Dustin - don't ever whine about the JT and conflicts of interest again. Your friends seem to escape scrutiny while others . . .