As a candidate in 2010, Scott Walker said: "Working with the legislature and through executive order, I will replace (the Department of Commerce) with a true economic development agency."
The Legislature approved the partial privatization of the Commerce Department and the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation was launched in July 2011.
WEDC got off to a rocky start. The agency saw a number of staffers and executives -- including the CEO -- leave. Some $9 million in loans to state businesses could not be accounted for.
And a May 2013 audit ripped WEDC for a variety of shortfalls, including a failure to require financial statements from companies receiving incentives. The audit said officials gave awards to ineligible businesses and projects and awarded nearly $1 million in tax credits to companies for actions taken before they had signed their contracts with the state.
These problems aside, there"s clear evidence that WEDC has focused on its primary mission -- and the promise made by Walker -- that it would help spur economic development and add jobs.
The organization"s 2012 annual report said: "A total of 23,759 jobs in Wisconsin are anticipated to be impacted directly by investments made by WEDC in FY12."
We rated Half True a statement by state Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) that WEDC was a "proven job creator” because the agency"s report was a projection of job creation, not jobs already cvreated. However, we interviewed several businesses in Nygren"s district who added employees after receiving tax credits through WEDC.
When last reviewed, we left this promise In the Works because the agency was so new.
We are now moving that rating to Promise Kept.