Tag Archives: Wisconsin Economic Development Agency

WEDC issues false claims of producing jobs in Sherman Park

Gov. Scott Walker’s troubled job agency has not created new jobs in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, despite claiming credit for 483.

Citizen Action conducted a review of reporting by Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs agency and could verify no job creation in the area, which was the site of civil unrest over the weekend.

As Citizen Action of Wisconsin documented in its statement Tuesday on the Sherman Park civil unrest, the neighborhood has borne the brunt of the outsourcing and deindustrialization that has taken place since the 1970s.

Citizen Action’s review of the Wisconsin Economic Development Agency’s database found claims of creating 483 jobs in the area. But an investigation revealed that the companies named do not actually exist in the neighborhood.

WEDC’s map on their website lists eight companies in Sherman Park receiving tax credits or related programs. Only three of them claim to have created jobs.

But a review of the companies show they do not exist in the community, despite what is indicated on the WEDC map. All of the locations are listed with the same area on WEDC’s website, which is in fact residential neighborhood:

  • Saelens Corporation, which received $400,000 in tax credits, is actually based closer to Menomonee Falls on Milwaukee’s far northwest side
  • Novation Companies, which received $750,000 in tax credits, is actually based downtown and is selling its office to a California tech company.
  • Merge Healthcare Inc., which received $500,000 in tax credits, was actually based in Hartland

Even if WEDC had created 483 jobs, that would not be nearly the scale of employment necessary to help the thousands of area residents who cannot find good jobs.

The revelation that Wisconsin flagship economic development agency is doing little to nothing for one of the most economically distressed areas in the United States is consistent with early reports by Citizen Action and others that it is emphasizing investments in wealthy suburbs. WEDC’s own website takes credit for impacting more jobs in Waukesha County (12,317) than Milwaukee County (11,889), despite Milwaukee’s much greater population and poverty rates.

Also, Walker choose to turn down over $800 million in federal money for high-speed rail, forcing a train manufacturer in the Sherman Park neighborhood to leave Wisconsin. This could have been an anchor for further economic development in the area.

“It is clear that Sherman Park and other economically devastated areas like it have been abandoned by Gov. Walker’s failed economic strategy,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “WEDC’s misrepresentations of its job creation efforts in Sherman Park are yet another affront to area residents, who simply want real economic opportunity and their fair share of the American dream.”

“For decades, jobs within Milwaukee’s industrial core have been lost to other countries and other communities. We know investment is deeply needed, yet we haven’t seen it — and now must find answers to where the state’s flagship jobs agency is actually making its investments,” said state Rep. Evan Goyke, whose district includes part of Sherman Park. “Where did the money actually go?  As we move to build strong neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee, we are left asking questions about the state’s investment, which could be the economic foundation from which to rebuild prosperity in Milwaukee’s most economically distressed neighborhoods.”

See also:

Ex-banker to plead guilty in fraud case against WEDC recipient

WEDC approved tax credits for Walker donor who cut jobs

Dem official: WEDC illegally gave out $21 million in taxpayer dollars



Lawmakers blast Republican attempt to impose gag order on WEDC

Following an outcry from leaders on both sides of the aisle, the head of Wisconsin’s scandal-plagued flagship economic development agency nixed a Republican-backed proposal to bar the agency’s board members from talking about its operations.

The  backlash followed a report on the proposed gag order that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Mark Hogan cited feedback from “various board members” in announcing that he would withdraw the order, which would have barred WEDC board members from talking to reporters or sharing information about the agency, which is taxpayer-funded.

Under the proposal, WEDC’s chief legal officer would have investigated board members suspected of speaking to the press for disciplinary action.

Democratic and Republican legislators blasted the proposal, calling for more transparency and oversight of the agency, which has faced frequent many embarrassing scandals since Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers created it in 2011.

The agency was created for job development, but it has not succeeded on that front. Critics say it has become a corporate welfare agency for Walker’s cronies, doling out taxpayer money to Walker donors who then cut jobs or sent them overseas. In fact, records show that Walker might have given out millions in unearned tax credits.

Just days ago, an ex-banker announced that he’d plead guilty in a fraud case against a WEDC recipient.

“After years of controversies, scandals, and failure to deliver jobs to Wisconsin, Walker and his WEDC cronies are trying to hide their misguided actions and agenda from the public,” said the Democratic Party of  Wisconsin in a statement to the press. “This just adds to the long list of Scott Walker’s attempts to sweep the failures of his administration under the rug. Despite the objections we see from Walker and his colleagues as they continue to try and hide their actions and treat WEDC like their own personal piggy bank.”

“Multiple audits have shown that Gov. Walker’s flagship job-creation agency is riddled with incompetence and mismanagement,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Martha Laning. “Furthermore, news reports have brought to light how WEDC has funneled taxpayer dollars to donors who fill their campaign coffers and corporations that ship jobs overseas. After years of controversy coupled with poor jobs numbers it isn’t surprising that the governor would want to sweep his failures under the rug. Wisconsinites deserve to know the truth and anything short of that is wrong for the taxpayers and wrong for Wisconsin.”