It’s about people

14 Nov 2022


In late February of this year, Deputy Secretary Sam Rikkers and I had the privilege of visiting Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We had planned to visit a number of companies with a presence in Wisconsin and to learn more about the state of manufacturing and business in those countries. However, what we envisioned became something very different when three days before we landed in Frankfurt, Russia invaded Ukraine.

As we sat down to our first dinner with officials from Wisconsin’s sister state of Hessen, it became clear that the value of our visit was much greater than we had thought. For 45 years, we’ve had this relationship with Hessen, a state in Germany that is remarkably like our state. Agriculture and manufacturing form the foundation of their economy; there’s some tourism and lots of beer. But the relationship is akin to old family ties. There are cultural ties and even actual family ties: I was able to meet my mother’s first cousins in Wiesbaden while we were there.

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