The biggest problem with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has always been that it has seen economic development through the lens that was attached when former Gov. Scott Walker established the agency. That is to say that it has been far more interested in meeting the needs of multinational corporations and politically-connected businessmen and women than in doing right by Wisconsin workers and communities.
Now that Walker is gone, that can and must change.
WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan, who was appointed to head the troubled agency in 2015, is stepping down. To his credit, Hogan cleaned up some of the worst messes at WEDC.
But the new director, who will be appointed in short order by the man who replaced Walker, Gov. Tony Evers, should address WEDC’s approach to economic development.
The point of WEDC should be to invest in homegrown firms that are on the cutting-edge of innovation. And those investments should exact guarantees from businesses that workers will be paid a living wage and provided with adequate benefits, that the environment will be protected and that communities will not be whipsawed in the way that Foxconn has the townships, villages and cities of southeast Wisconsin.
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