Walker

State economic development commission to take region-by-region approach

2013-01-31T06:41:00Z 2013-12-17T10:53:03Z State economic development commission to take region-by-region approachALISON BAUTER alison.bauter@journaltimes.com Journal Times

RACINE — Under new leadership, the state’s economic development agency is taking a targeted, region-by-region approach with the intent of bolstering job growth in Wisconsin.

Newly appointed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Reed Hall gave that assurance to Racine-area leaders Wednesday, as Hall and Gov. Scott Walker toured the state promoting the agency, and touting its possibilities to help grow local business and meet Walker’s 250,000-job promise under new leadership.

“There will be some changes,” said Hall, WEDC’s former interim director. “I think you’re going to see a renewed emphasis on the region, working with people here and around the state.”

Walker and Hall pointed to southeastern Wisconsin’s reputation as the state’s manufacturing center and its proximity to neighboring Illinois as positives when it came not just to building up current industries, but attracting out-of-state businesses as well.

WEDC, the state’s quasi-public flagship job agency, has had its share of trouble, facing staffing and accountability problems following its inception in 2011.

Walker and Hall acknowledged the agency’s less-than-perfect track record as a learning opportunity and a chance for improvement. Hall mentioned that an audit on the agency and subsequent report “have given us a road map to pursue” in terms of improving computer systems and hiring new financial officers and staff as the agency moves forward.

When asked if WEDC was looking to increase transparency, Hall responded, “Clearly, we are.”

Those past problems aside, some Democratic groups took issue with Hall himself Wednesday, criticizing Hall’s qualifications after the governor picked him over a search committee’s recommendations.

State Democratic Party Spokesman Graeme Zielinski said between Hall’s previous donations to Walker’s campaign and a past speech delivered by Hall to a Tea Party group, it seemed apparent that the governor was rewarding a political ally.

The governor said Wednesday that every search committee member mentioned their appreciation of and support for Hall, and listed the former Marshfield Clinic executive director’s experience there, as well as work on the Manufacturers and Commerce committee and his passion as qualifying factors. Hall offered assurances that, although he spoke on the Affordable Care Act at a Tea Party event, he was by no means a member, or otherwise affiliated with the group.

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, Kenosha, whose district includes most of Mount Pleasant, expressed optimism about Hall, but not without similar reservations.

“I had hoped that a nationwide search at significant taxpayer expense would bring a CEO with extensive economic development experience to turn around our state’s troubled jobs agency,” noted Barca, a WEDC board member, in a statement. “Reed Hall seems like a capable businessperson and I stand ready to work with anyone — including the new CEO, the governor and the rest of the WEDC board — to help achieve our economic goals.”

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. ordmm
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    ordmm - January 31, 2013 8:35 pm
    LoveRacine....checked the link provided and nearly fell off my chair laughing. Your link used info from a release by Chris "The Thief" Larson who would hardly be considered an unbiased source. Nice try, but something a little more solid might prop up your observation. I'm sure the other three people are excellent choices, but the Governor picked the best man for the job. The $40K would have been spent anyway, so "The Thiefs" argument is was wasted is just sour grapes from a former grocery clerk with sticky fingers.
  2. Green Racinereal
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    Green Racinereal - January 31, 2013 12:37 pm
    Its the same thing. Its O.K. however when the Mayor of Racine does it, right?
    After all Mayor John Dickert must get his way in all things or there is payback Note Chase Henrix and his offer of donating $10K + in services, or Mayor Dickert removing removing documents off Alderman's desks.
    The CAR 25 issue is far from over still the committee of the whole to talk about it.
    I understand that a picket will be started in front of businesses who are thought to be on the Mayor's side on this issue. Now that will make great press for the City of Racine.
  3. LoveRacine
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    LoveRacine - January 31, 2013 12:10 pm
    There was plenty of discussion on this topic, both negative and positive. Why are you bringing it up here????
  4. LoveRacine
    Report Abuse
    LoveRacine - January 31, 2013 12:00 pm
    $40,000 was payed to a firm to search out the best candidate. The recommendations were:
    " The three finalists were:

    • Michael Jenkins of Cedarburg, a former executive with Diversey Inc. in Sturtevant and before that, Kohler Co. in Kohler.

    • Ralph Howard of Random Lake, a former executive with W.W. Grainger Inc., Lake Forest, Ill., and before that at Kohler Co. Before joining Kohler, Howard was vice president of automotive and specialty at Master Lock Co. in Milwaukee.

    • Jason Jensen of Madison, who for more than 12 years was an executive at Parts Now LLC, a Middleton wholesale hard-copy imaging parts and supplies distributor and remanufacturer."

    Walker chose to ignore these recommendations and made his own choice. $40,000 wasted.
    Source:
    http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2013/01/29/larson-says-walker-wedc-wasted-money.html
  5. Green Racinereal
    Report Abuse
    Green Racinereal - January 31, 2013 11:43 am
    Gee Mayor John Dickert uses Mary Osterman for the Cable Commission vs getting experienced media folks say from J-Wax vs his Campaign Treasurer who has what mediabbackground?
    Of course our Mayor wants to use a Company from Kenosha (His Pals from his own words) to outsource CAR 25 with of course Osterman's OK
    Where's the outrage?
  6. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - January 31, 2013 11:01 am
    Those past problems aside, some Democratic groups took issue with Hall himself Wednesday, criticizing Hall’s qualifications after the governor picked him over a search committee’s recommendations.

    State Democratic Party Spokesman Graeme Zielinski said between Hall’s previous donations to Walker’s campaign and a past speech delivered by Hall to a Tea Party group, it seemed apparent that the governor was rewarding a political ally.


    SO, to a Democrat unqualified = a campaign donation and giving a speech at a Taxed Enough Already Event.

    How is Failure, or Unqualified to be judged? When is the problem Spending, and Spending Priorities?

    A failed Mayor: http://racineexposed.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/a-failed-mayor/
  7. ordmm
    Report Abuse
    ordmm - January 31, 2013 10:25 am
    LoveRacine....you posted "And again, Walker appoints a crony over more qualified individuals". Educate us please,,,,give us the name of three or four of those "qualified individuals" who were passed over. Just curious as it seems you have inside information who was in the running for the job.
  8. LoveRacine
    Report Abuse
    LoveRacine - January 31, 2013 9:48 am
    "Walker and Hall acknowledged the agency’s less-than-perfect track record as a learning opportunity and a chance for improvement. Hall mentioned that an audit on the agency and subsequent report “have given us a road map to pursue” in terms of improving computer systems and hiring new financial officers and staff as the agency moves forward."
    How much money has this quasi private run "learning opportunity" cost the taxpayers over the last two years while it enriches ever changing financial officers and staff. And again, Walker appoints a crony over more qualified individuals.
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