Building the foundation for supporting business success in Wisconsin by creating the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has certainly had its challenges during the first two years. Thankfully, now we can see that most all of the issues related to WEDC’s start-up, along with the transfer of ongoing responsibilities from the old Department of Commerce, have been addressed and corrected. The result is a reshaped approach of leveraging innovative ideas, leadership, resources and a strong statewide network of economic development collaborators to drive business and job creation in Wisconsin.
WEDC admittedly experienced some management issues during the transition into its role as the state’s new economic development organization. WEDC has since established over 100 new policies and measurements that provide the transparency and accountability demanded of the organization by the legislature and the public. WEDC has also put in place a strong and innovative operations plan for aggressive global business development outreach, expanded entrepreneurship investment, targeted industry sector growth strategies and expanded community development support.
In order to restore the credibility of the WEDC we must move beyond partisan talking points and work towards accurately identifying specific problems within WEDC that need to be addressed. This is something I have worked hard at achieving since being appointed to the WEDC Board in January, after the Corporation had voluntarily disclosed significant shortcomings in its internal financial systems. Using my decades of experience garnered both in elected office, as well as through owning and managing small businesses, I have pushed for improvements at WEDC over the last several months. I have been impressed with the dramatic progress that has been made.
At the WEDC Board meeting on July 23, WEDC staff presented the Board a detailed accountability measure plan that illustrates the recent steps WEDC has taken to rebuild accountability, transparency and public trust in the operations of our State’s lead economic development entity.
WEDC has hired a CFO and Vice President of Credit and Risk to improve its financial management. It has reorganized compliance functions and expanded staff to concentrate on conformance with state statutes and organization policies.
The Board was presented with 101 policies to provide clarity on organizational practices reflective of WEDC’s mission, operating structure and governance framework. WEDC has put in place process improvements to strengthen the financial award process, reporting and collections, procurement procedures, employee purchasing policies and employee ethics policies.
WEDC is replacing an outdated financial management software system, inherited from Department of Commerce, with sophisticated technology to meet WEDC’s tracking, reporting and collections objectives. Three new Board Committees have been formed to provide more oversight of the areas of awards, of policies, and of contracts and audits.
I am confident that these measures will firmly establish WEDC’s transparency, accountability and credibility. These improvements should turn the page on the start-up chapter so that WEDC can focus on a bright future of driving business growth in Wisconsin.
WEDC has taken bold and innovative approaches to business development in Wisconsin by being more aggressive on global business development, expanding investment in entrepreneurs, targeting industry sectors for growth and expanding support for community development.
WEDC’s operations plan and accountability measures tell
the full story of the Corporation and how it now functions in a manner that fulfills
its responsibility for transparency and accountability while leading our state toward
to economic, business and job growth. I am looking forward to the days ahead as
WEDC provides even greater opportunities for business growth and prosperity in