Gov. Scott Walker held an economic forum at Modine Manufacturing Tuesday with officials from the private sector, state officials, and small business owners.
Employers talked about their frustrations and what prevented them from adding staff. They discussed the difficulties in finding capital funding, having to litigate unemployment claims, navigating the bureaucracy at local municipalities to gain permits, working through the state regulatory process, and finding skilled workers.
Walker vowed to work on issues with staff and help create legislation that would address issues ranging from everything from tort law reform to looking at how technical education is taught.
Russell Gnatt, president and CEO of The Spectrum Group, said small businesses are having problems finding capital from banks, but they are also having problems with cash flow.
"One thing that I hear from the executive round table I participate in…. is that small businesses are saying that 'If I do something for GE, I have to wait 105 days to be paid," Gnatt said. "Capital that is something that has to flow. Collecting it somewhere doesn't do anybody any good. So if businesses aren't responsible enough to keep the money flowing, I don't know what the government can do."
Gnatt told Walker he would rather have his taxes raised to 20 percent rather than have his customers pay 60 days late. And he would hire people if his clients were paying him on time.
"Going from 30 to 60 days (in not being paid) would kill me, but another 10 to 15 percent increase in taxes would just be uncomfortable," Gnatt said.
Walker said he'd like to fix both problems because his goal was to help businesses create 250,000 jobs. Those jobs would come 10, 15, and 20 at a time and not in groups of 100.
"So we need to be mindful to what happens to small and mid-sized businesses," Walker said. "And that's where the job growth is."
Walker said the forum helped him connect with job creators to understand what issues they are facing.