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Why Are Wisconsin's Northern Counties A Poor Fit for WEDC Dollars?

Roads in Northern Wisconsin such as US Route 2 pose a problem to large companies who may want to relocate to the region, but cannot due to roads not being wide enough to handle the traffic flow that would be created.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation – the quasi-public body created by Governor Walker to replace the state department in charge of job creation – has been plagued by controversy. Most recently, it’s taken criticism for a half-million dollar loan to a Walker campaign donor with a failing business.

Now, a report from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, titled Most northern counties left behind by Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs agency, says WEDC's economic assistance might not be reaching the parts of the state that need it the most.

Unemployment is high in northern Wisconsin. But when it comes to assistance, state economic development dollars are low.

"It’s not that (WEDC) programs aren’t effective – it’s not for me to say that. But the northern counties are not as well suited to some of the programs that they do have," reporter Madeleine Behr says.

She points out that there is not just one, but many factors that contribute to the region's lack of growth, which include lack of proper infrastructure, population issues, travel routes, road widths and legislation.

"There's no reason to frame the issue in one way or another, it's really a multitude of factors. So it wouldn't be fair to say it is all the WEDC's fault, that is not true. It's not also fair to say it's all the legislator's fault, that's not true as well," says Behr.