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Economic importance of the Interstate

Case study 1 - Economic Significance of the Southeast Wisconsin Freeway System

A 2001 study examined the economic significance of the Southeast Freeway System, which includes Interstate highways: I-39, I-43, I-94, I-794, and I-894, to the entire state.

Southeast Wisconsin Interstate System

The Southeast Freeway System, which includes Interstate highways: I-39, I-43, I-94, I-794, and I-894.

Wisconsin's Southeast Freeway System is economically significant to the rest of the state for the following reasons:

  • The majority (1,571 or 46%) of the state's exporters are located in southeast Wisconsin. (2001)
  • There are more businesses and manufacturers in Southeast Wisconsin than in any other region in the state. 91,764 businesses are located in the Southeast region, or 36% of the state total.
  • Southeast Wisconsin has a population of 1,521,619 (2004 estimate), or 37% of the state's population and the state's largest transportation and intermodal facilities.
  • 57% of Southeast Wisconsin's largest manufacturers, with 100 or more employees are located within two miles of the Interstate System (2001).
  • $39.8 billion in wages, or 42% of the total wages paid in the state (2003) are paid in Southeast Wisconsin counties.
  • On average, in 2003, per capita personal income in Southeast Wisconsin counties was $34,207, significantly higher than in the state as a whole ($30,685).
  • 2001 economic forecasts indicate that the Southeast Wisconsin region will grow faster than other regions in the state.
  • A large number of Wisconsin's prominent tourist attractions are located in the Southeast region of the state.
  • 2001 data indicates that manufacturers in Southeast Wisconsin have manufacturing facilities in other regions of the state and depend on the freeways to bring in parts and goods for distribution. A 2001 survey of manufacturers with 50 or more employees showed at least 138 manufacturing plants outside the Southeast region with ties to Southeast Wisconsin.
  • 23,157 manufacturing jobs outside the Southeast region were linked to manufacturing plants in Southeast Wisconsin.
  • 14,540 Illinois residents work in Wisconsin, comprising 0.6% of all people working in Wisconsin. (Census 2000)

Some 41,603 Wisconsin residents work in Illinois, comprising 1.6% of people working in Illinois. (Census 2000) Wisconsin Interstate highways provide the route for these commutes in and out of Wisconsin.

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Last modified: January 6, 2010

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