Meetings with officials in water technology, energy and other sectors part of state’s efforts to attract foreign investment

Bilbao, SPAIN. April 17, 2015 – Leaders of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) met with officials in key industry groups in Spain this week as part of the state’s strategy to encourage overseas companies to invest in Wisconsin and to increase state exports.

The meetings in the Basque Country of northern Spain provided their business leaders in sectors such as water technology, energy, aviation and information technology with insights on how the industry strengths of Wisconsin aligned with those in the Basque region.

“One of the key steps toward attracting overseas businesses to Wisconsin is to ensure that the state has the industry-specific capabilities to meet the needs of foreign companies,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “As Spanish companies in areas such as energy or water technology consider expanding in the U.S., they are looking for an environment that is conducive to their specific needs. These meetings enabled us to showcase Wisconsin’s strengths in these key sectors.”

“It’s important for us to engage with the cluster groups because these organizations are a crucial part of the network needed to attract foreign investment to Wisconsin,” added Katy Sinnott, vice president of WEDC’s International Business Development Division. “The leaders of these cluster groups have strong contacts with their member companies and a deep knowledge of their members’ needs. By engaging with them, we are opening new doors of opportunity for possible investment in the state.”

The meetings on Thursday and Friday also enabled WEDC to provide the Spanish cluster organizations with connections to similar groups in Wisconsin to help them share information and research about their respective industries, Sinnott said.

Secretary Hall, Sinnott and other WEDC staff members met with members of three Basque region industry groups:

  • ACLIMA, a clean-tech and water technology organization with 89 members representing 2,800 professionals in the water, energy and materials fields.
  • HEGAN, an aviation and aerospace cluster group.
  • GAIA, an organization made up of more than 250 companies in the fields of electronics, information technology and telecommunications.

The meetings were part of a European Union Trade Mission led by Governor Scott Walker focusing on one-on-one meetings between Wisconsin business executives and their counterparts in Germany, France, and Spain in order to develop new partnerships overseas and encourage European companies to establish new or expand current operations in Wisconsin. The 22-member Wisconsin delegation is comprised of leaders from WEDC, seven Wisconsin companies, The Water Council, and the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development organization.




About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.