Economic Development Update

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) came before the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee this week. The committee voted along party lines to allow the pseudo-agency to continue operating, but delayed decisions on what to do with surplus funds earmarked for economic development and WEDC’s request to create a not-for-profit foundation funded by state businesses to support additional programs.

During the hearing, WEDC provided an update on how it is correcting the deficiencies identified in a spring 2013 audit of the agency by the Legislative Audit Bureau. WEDC CEO Reed Hall noted that WEDC has implemented 101 policies to improve systems and operations in response to the audit. All money awarded by the agency is now being tracked, and loan delinquencies were are at 2.9 percent, down from 6.4 percent in July.

This week, WEDC also debuted ads in out-of-state markets promoting Wisconsin’s business climate and workforce. The ads are part of WEDC’s expansion of its marketing budget to $5.75 million from $2 million in fiscal 2013.

As 2013 drew to a close, WEDC released its annual report for fiscal year 2013, highlighting the organization’s efforts to improve the state’s business climate. Over the fiscal year, WEDC provided more than $330 million in financial assistance to businesses, communities and other organizations through 270 loan, tax credit, grant and bond financing awards.