Of all the employment statistics in Wisconsin, this one might be the most surprising: 16,000 workers in Wisconsin are employed by companies based in Quebec. The companies for which many of them work are well-known names — BMO Harris Bank, CN Rail and Saputo Cheese.
It's one key reason why the government of Quebec maintains its own office in the Midwest. Jean-Francois Hould is the Chicago-based Quebec government representative. Hould spends much of his time working on behalf of Quebec's economic, educational and cultural interests in the region.
These days, that involves some significant concern about tariffs and other trade barriers that the Trump administration is working to implement, especially on raw materials such as softwood lumber and aluminum. He says $1.1 billion in trade currently exists between Wisconsin and Quebec, adding that Quebec depends a lot on trade.
"Those tariffs have a clear impact. And it's not just a Quebec guy with a French accent saying it," he says. "[Wisconsin companies] are very vocal about it. I think people realize it has an impact on Wisconsin's business."