Economic Development Agencies Face New Scrutiny

From Pew Center on the States:

Several states, most of them led by Republican governors, have experimented in recent years with the idea of turning their economic development agencies over to semi-private management. The results have not been uniformly successful. Many of these organizations are struggling to balance job creation with public accountability.

When a new CEO is picked soon to lead the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, he will face the task of overhauling an organization that has existed for little more than a year. The difficulties of WEDC, overseen by a board chaired by Governor Scott Walker that includes a mix of public officials and private citizens, have become clear over the last three months. In October, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the agency had failed to monitor millions of dollars in overdue loan repayments from businesses because it had never assigned staff to do so. Those revelations led to the resignation of the organization’s chief financial officer. The CEO also announced he was leaving.