Agency Primer: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Agency Primer by IRG:

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was created as a public-private entity by 2011 Wisconsin Act 7 to replace the Department of Commerce (the Department of Commerce was officially replaced under 2011 Wisconsin Act 32). Most of Commerce’s duties were transferred to WEDC including responsibility for creating and administering economic development programs, providing technical assistance, and administering existing programs and tax credits. The WEDC Board of Directors provides oversight, guidance, and serves as the governance board for the corporation. This 18 member board is composed of six gubernatorial appointees, ten legislative appointees, and two non-voting members; the Secretaries of the Department of Revenue and the Department of Administration. The Board elects a chairperson from among its non-legislative members. The Board is charged with developing economic programs and supporting new business start-ups, expansion, and growth in the state.

The head of WEDC is the Chief Executive Officer. The CEO is appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate and serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The Board has the authority to delegate to the CEO any responsibilities it deems proper and sets their compensation.

WEDC receives the bulk of its funding from the state and in recent years has drawn on federal COVID-19 funding. The corporation administers a number of grant programs that provide assistance to businesses looking to relocate, existing businesses looking to expand, start-ups, and regional economic development organizations. WEDC also has a loan portfolio; however, in recent years the outstanding balance has been reduced and tighter lending guidelines are followed per 2017 Wisconsin Act 59. In recent years, WEDC has shifted its focus from courting large companies and spurring job creation to more smaller localized development projects.

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