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The Badger State is largely driven by manufacturing and agriculture. With a focus on equipment and transportation, manufacturing makes 20% of the state’s GDP and welcomes such bigger players as John Deere, Caterpillar Inc., Briggs and Stratton, and Rockwell Automation.
In agriculture, Wisconsin takes the lead in cheese, butter, and milk production and is a top-of-the-line producer of unprocessed oats, corn, and snap cranberries. The state produces almost 97% of the nation’s ginseng crop.
The diverse economic landscape and well-developed logistic infrastructure, and advanced system of government incentives aimed at encouraging beginner entrepreneurs make Wisconsin a great place for small enterprises (SMEs).
In 2021, GDP in Wisconsin stood at $302.78 billion showing a nearly 4% increase from the previous year (Statista) and verifying a confident post-pandemic recovery of the state economy;
In 2022, GDP continues to grow and hits the $306.5 billion mark;
Based on IBISWorld cumulative data, annualized GDP growth rate within a five-year period is 1%;
The biggest revenue generators in the state are life insurance, property insurance, and medical insurance sectors having brought $72.8, $26.6, and $26.2 billion in 2022 accordingly;
The biggest GDP contributors collectively making up 44.7% of the entire GDP are manufacturing, real estate, and healthcare sectors;
There are 462.292 small enterprises operating on the private market of WI and ensuring 99.4% of the total business pool in the state;
Accounting for over 85% of the state exporters, in 2020, SMEs generated 28.3% of the state exports worth $19.1 billion (Census data);
Professional, scientific, and technical services and construction are two sectors in the WI economy that have the biggest number of SMEs, at 56.914 and 53.316 companies respectively;
Meanwhile, the utility sector has the lowest SME number, with only 195 small private firms currently working in it;
The total amount of loans issued by banks to small private entities in 2020 was $8.3 billion in lower loans up to $100.000 and bigger ones up to $1 million (CRA Aggregate Data);
For the year from March 2020 to March 2021, the net gain of new SME establishments in the state was 3.830 entities;
The employment market lost 56.425 jobs for the same period;
Overall, SMEs maintain 48.8% of the total labor pool in the state;
The minimum hourly wage in Wisconsin matches the federal minimum of $7.25;
The average salary rate is $22 resulting in $45.547 of median annual income;
Owners of registered entities across the state earn $51.000 a year while owners of unincorporated business forms have a $26.000 median income;
The state unemployment rate in 2022 is 3.3%.
Top 10 Industries for Small Businesses in Wisconsin
Professional, scientific, and technical services
Other services (excluding public administration)
Real estate, rental, and leasing
Healthcare and social services
Administrative, support, and waste management
Transportation and warehousing
Entertainment and recreational services
Accommodation and food services
WI Small Business Demographics
155.951 entities of the total SME count in the state are owned by ladies. This equates to 41.4% of small companies, and 11% of them are job-givers;
Male-owned companies account for 261.071 entities, and 23% of them have employees;
Companies equally owned by men and women make up just about 7% of the total SME number, and most of them are non-employer firms;
Female workers ensure almost 48% of the employment pool in the private sector;
Military veterans control 7.4% of small private firms and represent 4.5% of the state workforce;
Ethnic groups’ shares in the SME ownership and workforce are not that high at 9.9% and 17.5% accordingly;
Immigrant-owned SMEs split in the following way (Census data):
Black Americans: 17.578;
American Indians and Alaska Natives: 1467.
WI Small Business Formation
On average, around 40.000 residents of WI annually start new businesses;
To register a Wisconsin LLC or corporation, you should get your formation documents approved by the state and pay an appropriate filing fee;
An LLC formation fee is $130 for online filings and $170 for paper filings while an incorporation fee is $100;
To stay legitimate and compliant, both LLCs and corporations should appoint a Wisconsin registered agent to handle their legal mail and file a state annual report that entails a $25 fee when submitted online and a $40 fee when filed in the paper;
The state has a progressive system of individual income tax rates. The brackets vary from 3.54% at the lower end to 7.65% at the higher end. Yet, the final amount will also depend on your filing status;
Corporate incomes are taxed at a flat rate of 7.90%;
State sales tax in WI is 5%. Combined with local rates not exceeding 1.75%, the average sales tax rate across the state is 5.43%;
Corporate income taxpayers in WI gaining over $4 million in gross receipts are also exposed to an “economic development surcharge” levied at a minimum rate of $25 and not exceeding $9.800.