Report: WEDC’s problems rooted in transition from Dept. of Commerce

A new review presented to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s board of directors Board said the agency’s problems stemmed from transferring duties from the old Department of Commerce.

The review of WEDC operations from the Financial Institution Products Corp. — a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Bankers Association — said that while staffers were “engaged” and “dedicated” to their tasks, they lacked the information, management and structure necessary to run the quasi-public agency.

“It is evident the formation of the new WEDC organization did not start out with a complete defined set of management information reports and policies,” the report said. “Not enough initial determination was made regarding the type and depth of information that would be needed to manage the organization on a day to day basis. There were some ‘understandings’ that were carried over from DOC, but these were not sufficient.”

The report also confirmed earlier concerns from board members that WEDC needs a more defined credit risk management policy and should create a credit committee to oversee loan, tax credit and grant approvals.

The FIPCO report noted that while WEDC isn’t a bank and has more flexible loan policies, the agency still needs specific standards to manage the inherent risk in extending credits. A presenter for FIPCO noted the agency needs more specific loan information and noted that many of the problems came from the fact that staff let the software’s limited capabilities dictate what information they generated.“>* See the report for more

Meanwhile, the search for a new WEDC chief will advance today, when the search committee completes interviews of seven remaining candidates.

The names of five finalists will be forwarded to Gov. Scott Walker shortly after those interviews. CEO Search Committee Chair Scott Klug said many of the final candidates had a financial background or an economic development background.

“We looked hard for someone who straddled those two worlds, but it was a lot harder than we expected,” Klug said during yesterday’s WEDC Board meeting in Eau Claire.

Klug also said at least 100 candidates applied, estimating the general job posting netted 60 candidates who came from across the world and were occasionally “interesting” and that search firm QTI netted another 50 candidates through headhunting.

Klug said the process would be on pace to have Walker name a new CEO shortly after the first of the year.

Reed Hall, a former Marshfield Clinic exec, has been the interim CEO since October after initial leader Paul Jadin took a regional economic development post in Madison.