Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

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The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, also known as WEDC, is a public-private agency created in 2011 by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

Background[edit]

Governor Scott Walker created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to replace the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. WEDC grants loans that would give assistance to a company's attempts to grow and employ more workers within the state of Wisconsin.[1][2] According to Wisconsin Public Radio, "The agency has been plagued by mismanagement and questions about handing out loans without properly vetting recipients."[3] Walker introduced a state budget in February 2015 which removed all of the elected officials from the board. This included removing himself from chairmanship of WEDC.[3] This was revised by the Legislature's budget committee who altered it to only remove Walker[3] Walker signed the budget in July 2015.[3]

Criticism[edit]

WEDC has received criticism for having poor financial controls. A 2011 legislative audit reported that the organization "awarded some grants, loans, and tax credits to ineligible recipients, for ineligible projects, and for amounts that exceeded specified limits." It also reported that WEDC "did not consistently perform statutorily required program oversight duties such as monitoring the contractually specified performance of award recipients."[4][5] In July 2013, WEDC adopted a new policy requiring written reviews on all program awards. According to WEDC, it had approved more than 760 reviewed awards under the new policy by June 2015.[6]

In June 2015, it was reported that in July 2012 Kohl's received a 62.5 million dollar award to create 3,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Kohl's only created 473 jobs. Furthermore, in 2012, $18 million was awarded to Kestrel Aircraft which was expected to create 665 jobs, but only created 24, and $15 million went to Plexus Corp. to create 350 jobs, but created none.[7]

Awards[edit]

These are among the grants awarded:

  • August 2015 1.9 million dollars to a Rexnord Corporation subsidiary, Zurn Industries LLC, a manufacturer of toilets and other plumbing products for commercial, municipal, health care and industrial markets. Zurn will move the company's headquarters to Milwaukee.[8]
  • July 2015 250,000 dollar Community Development Investment grant for converting the historic former YMCA/KYF building into a 46-unit apartment complex in the city of Kenosha.[9]
  • May 2015, 350,000 dollars to WERCBench Labs Accelerator a nonprofit startup accelerator program through the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium.[10][11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Patrick, Laurel (May 8, 2015). "Audit rips WEDC; Walker drops merger plans". greenbaypressgazette.com. Associated Press. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  2. ^ Bottari, Mary (May 26, 2015). "Scott Walker Dumped as Chair of the Jobs Agency He Created". HPMG News. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Murray, Pat (July 21, 2015). "WEDC Selects Chairman To Replace Walker". wpr.org. Wisconsin Public Radio. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  4. ^ Stein, Jason; Marley, Patrick (May 1, 2013). "Wisconsin jobs agency failed in tracking taxpayer money, audit finds". jsonline.com. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Inc. Retrieved June 23, 2005.
  5. ^ Swensen, Dean; Ramirez, Zach; Baker, Kelly; Kleinmaier, Dan; Klusmeier, Amy; Malone, James; Natzke, Noah; Reed, Bob; Schindler, Jacob; Tippens, Georges (May 1, 2013). "Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation" (PDF). Legislative Audit Bureau. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  6. ^ "Scott Walker's Wisconsin jobs agency gave out $124 million without review". Chicago Tribune. 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
  7. ^ DeFour, Matthew (June 20, 2015). "WEDC made 27 awards totaling $124.4 million without proper review". host.madison.com. Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Held, Tom (July 16, 2015). "City panel backs $1.9M for Zurn HQ move to Milwaukee". Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  9. ^ Guida, Bill (July 22, 2015). "WEDC issues $250,000 grant for KYF apartments". Kenosha News. United Communications. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  10. ^ http://www.xconomy.com/wisconsin/2015/05/13/new-wercbench-labs-accelerator-gets-350k-wedc-grant/
  11. ^ http://www.xconomy.com/wisconsin/2015/05/08/m-werc-seeks-startups-for-pilot-milwaukee-hardware-accelerator/

External links[edit]