Economic Development Legislation Coming in 2016

Senators Gudex and Darling announce Economic Development Plan

Sen. Rick Gudex (R – Fond du Lac) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R – River Hills) announced last week their plans to introduce a series of bills designed to increase economic development across the state. According to their press release, the bill package will reduce red tape, encourage innovation and invest in successful ideas.

The legislation was formulated after the Senate Economic Development Committee held a series of listening sessions throughout Wisconsin.

According to a press release from the senators, the legislation to be introduced will do the following:

  • Allow the Public Service Commission to make grants and improve broadband access throughout Wisconsin
  • Encourage students to enter high demand fields
  • Create regional investment funds to quickly react to job creation opportunities
  • Help move ideas into the marketplace with development grants
  • Cut the red tape which stops investors from assisting the next great idea
  • Encourage long-term research and development in Wisconsin
  • Increase the impact of tourism has on the economy

Review cites areas of improvement for WEDC

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness released their review last week recommending specific areas of improvement and changes to the Wisconsin Economic Development Council.

The report included 34 specific recommendations. CREC’s central recommendation was for WEDC to continue to operate through its existing structure. According to the report, “the primary recommendation of this management review is to develop consensus among stakeholders that Wisconsin’s best option is to help WEDC function effectively as the state’s lead economic development organization. WEDC has made significant progress in addressing operational issues previously identified.” Additionally, the report acknowledged that business leaders and economic development partners around the state do not wish to go back to the previous economic-development structure.

Among other recommendations included a focus on the promotion of WEDC’s mission and programs through business leaders, media outlets, elected officials and other allies; clarification of strategic purposes for lending programs; staggering terms for board members; sharing data with the departments of Workforce Development and Revenue; and supporting other community opportunity programs that complement WEDC’s economic development mission.

Read more on the report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.