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October 30, 2012

MADISON - Businesses and industries looking to build or expand in Wisconsin now have a new resource intended to provide enhanced and proactive business support to navigate through Department of Natural Resources rules, regulations and permitting, with the official launch of the DNR Office of Business Support and Sustainability.

"We created this office to provide a focal point within the department to enhance job creation and economic vitality while maintaining environmental standards under the DNR's environmental and conservation mission," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

"The Office of Business Support and Sustainability will strengthen working relationships with key designated business sectors by supporting streamlining, economic development and innovation that yields both environmental and economic results," added OBSS Director Al Shea.

Shea said the new office will also focus and coordinate the department's resources needed to enable economic development and support job creation, working primarily on businesses seeking to start or relocate in Wisconsin, and on existing businesses seeking to expand and key business retention opportunities. Routine permitting will be handled through the existing DNR regulatory programs.

To emphasize the importance of the office, Shea reports directly to Secretary Stepp. The office was created by drawing together staff from the department's Energy and Environmental Analysis and Cooperative Environmental Assistance programs. Initially DNR will focus on ten sectors in which to build relationships. Specialists have been appointed to work on: agribusiness; development, construction and building; energy; forest and wood products; green manufacturing; manufacturing; paper; printing; sustainable communities; and transportation.

"Sector development specialists will not only work directly with the sector, but also with a team of individuals from various DNR programs to enable prompt DNR response to business and community needs," said Shea. He noted the specialists and their teams are tasked with developing specialized knowledge about sector needs, and working collaboratively with these sectors to create effective growth and environmental performance strategies.

Partners from other organizations and agencies will play a key role as the Office of Business Support and Sustainability works to align sector work with initiatives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Regional Economic Development Organizations and academic institutions to name a few.

In addition, under Executive Order 69, the office will also grow the Green Tier Program, and OBSS staff will coordinate the work of DNR programs to meet that challenge. Many Wisconsin businesses and communities have embraced sustainability as a strategy for the future and the new office will work to support those initiatives. Staff will pursue flexibility for sustainable businesses in order to make Wisconsin businesses more profitable and get environmental performance that goes well beyond regulatory minimums. "We expect to learn from our business and community partners who have embraced sustainability, and make sure they get the support that they need from DNR," said Shea.

To view the various DNR tools to support businesses in Wisconsin, go to the DNR website and type in key words "sector" to get find business sectors and partnerships or "business" to find other resources for businesses .

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Al Shea, 608-266-5896; Bill Cosh, 608-267-2773

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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