WRS News Online

Investing in Wisconsin’s Brightest Businesses

When it comes to investing the funds of the Wisconsin Retirement System, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board takes a global approach, from investing in real estate in the United States to international stocks. But sometimes, the investment opportunities are right here at home, in Wisconsin.

SWIB has partnered with many Wisconsin businesses, from small, family-owned companies that have been passed on from one generation to the next, to billion-dollar global operations.

SWIB’s commitment to Wisconsin has been significant. SWIB has invested more than $17 billion in companies with some level of employment and operations in Wisconsin. In the last five years, new investments in state companies totaled more than $1 billion, with projections for new investments over the next five years to reach as much as $1.8 billion.

“SWIB continues to invest in Wisconsin businesses,” Chris Prestigiacomo, Wisconsin Private Debt Portfolio manager, says. “These investments have generated solid returns with acceptable levels of risk and that, in addition to supporting the state’s economy by helping businesses create jobs and thrive in Wisconsin, has benefitted the trust funds we manage, including the WRS.”

The economic impact goes beyond SWIB’s state-targeted investments. Approximately 75% of the more than $4.2 billion in annuities paid out in 2013 to WRS participants came from investment returns. With 86% of retirees remaining in Wisconsin, the economic impact is statewide.

SWIB’s impact goes beyond investing capital. Investments staff is active in Wisconsin venture capital and small business development. SWIB actively markets its debt financing portfolio to state companies, sponsors venture capital events, such as the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, and acts as a conduit for small businesses on financing options and available business support services.

Last year, SWIB helped the Wisconsin Legislature draft legislation that created Wisconsin’s first state-funded venture capital initiative, the Badger Fund of Funds. SWIB also helped to select the fund manager for the program.

Recognizing additional opportunities in the state, SWIB partnered with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation on the creation of 4490 Ventures, a technology-focused, early stage venture capital fund helping startups in the region realize their full potential to become successful companies.

Every two years, SWIB publishes its Goals for Investing in Wisconsin report. This report to the governor and Legislature gives an overview of SWIB’s past Wisconsin investments and provides a five-year plan for making investments in the state.

To learn more about SWIB’s investments in Wisconsin and how those investments are making a positive impact, read the Goals for Investing in Wisconsin report on SWIB’s website.