Governor Scott Walker said Thursday that the state’s new economic development agency has been wildly successful. Walker, addressing the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s annual economic forecast luncheon in Madison, acknowledged that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has had issues keeping track of taxpayer funded loans.
“It’s important to know that every single one of those loans were not made by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. They were made by their predecessor (the old Wisconsin Department of Commerce),” said Walker. “You wouldn’t always pick that up in the media. You’d think that they made the loans, and then didn’t keep track of them.”
AUDIO: Governor Scott Walker (2:08)
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the WEDC had lost track of some $50 million in loans, and that about $12 million in loans to businesses likely won’t be paid back. Walker noted that improvements have been implemented, to keep better track of loans.
“But I also want to acknowledge that in addition to those improvements, the WEDC overall . . . has been wildly successful,” the governor said, explaining that the WEDC has been aggressive in it’s outreach to the state’s regional, county and local economic development agencies, to focus on job creation and expansion.
The WEDC is currently being overseen by an interim director, while a permanent replacement is sought. A nationwide search has narrowed the choice to three finalists. “We want people who’ve got private sector expertise, but also have some working interaction with economic development,” Walker said. “And we want a strong leader.”