Forward Wisconsin
The Definitive Resource For Wisconsin Business Information
Why Wisconsin

Location & Transportation

A Wisconsin location will give your business close proximity to the major markets of the Midwest and Canada. Ideally situated in the heart of the Upper Midwest region of the United States, Wisconsin has a population of 5.2 million and is within 500 miles (one-days shipping) of:

  • 33% of all U.S. population
  • 38% of all U.S. manufacturing volume
  • 31% of all U.S. manufacturing operations
  • 30% of all U.S. business operations
  • 36% of all U.S. Capital investment by industry
  • 22% of all Canadian population
  • 27% of all Canadian manufacturing volume
  • 46% of all Canadian manufacturing operations

Encompassing 54,314 square miles, Wisconsin contains 72 counties and 13 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). Several major metropolitan areas are nearby in neighboring states. Chicago, IL, for example, is just 90 miles south of Milwaukee and 148 miles east of Madison, the state capital. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, is just 90 miles west of Eau Claire.

That proximity to major markets means you'll save money on freight costs and increase the efficiency of your just-in-time production activities. Time to those markets and to markets throughout the world is further reduced by Wisconsin's well-maintained transportation network that includes:

  • WI Highways - The backbone of Wisconsin's transportation system, the state's highway system is comprised of nearly 2,000 miles of freeway/expressway, 12,000 miles of state highways, and 100,000 miles of local roads and streets. Thanks to that extensive network, 86% of the state's manufacturing plants are located within five miles of a highway on Corridors 2020 (a network of the state's high-functioning roadways). Eleven of the country's top freight carriers are based in Wisconsin. See Wisconsin's Trucking Industry.
  • WI Airports - In 2005, Wisconsin's 8 commercial airports and 130 general aviation facilities handled more than 122,000 tons of cargo and 5.53 million enplanements, a 14% increase from two years ago. In the past decade, 85% of new or expanding firms in Wisconsin were within 15 miles of an airport capable of handling corporate jets.  Additionally, Wisconsin has more than 400 private-use airports, 136 heliports, and 25 seaplane bases. See Wisconsin's Airport System.
  • WI Railroads - Rail service to all areas of the state as well as direct connections to major markets is provided by more than 4,200 miles of track. Through the state-funded Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) program, fast-track financing is available to construct rail spurs for new or expanding industries. Amtrak service carries more than 420,000 passengers each year between Milwaukee and Chicago, primarily for one-day business trips. See Wisconsin's Railroads.
  • WI Waterways - Capitalizing on its geographic advantage, Wisconsin's waterborne commerce flows in two major directions to reach U.S. and world markets. Cargo moves via the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System to Atlantic ports and via the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The state's 15 commercial ports handle nearly 40 million tons of cargo worth approximately $7 billion each year. See Wisconsin's Waterways.
  • WI Urban Transit - Inexpensive bus or shared-ride taxi service is available in 69 Wisconsin communities serving more than 75 million riders each year. This cost-efficient transit service has proved to effectively increase employers' pool of available workers, decrease traffic congestion and reduce parking demands. See Wisconsin's Urban Transit Systems.


The Wisconsin Traveler's Map link above shows cities, highways and natural resource features for each quadrant of the state with a zoom feature for close-up details.  The Wisconsin County Maps link provides access to detailed expandable maps for each of Wisconsin's 72 counties showing roads, airports, railroads and ports as well as other locations including schools, hospitals, recreation areas and more.

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