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Audit Reveals WEDC Problems, Gov. Walker Scraps Plan to Merge Economic Agencies

Gov. Walker has asked legislators to abandon his proposal to merge WEDC and WHEDA, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

The Legislative Audit Bureau released a study Friday morning indicating that the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, WEDC, has not complied with Wisconsin law.

State leaders created WEDC in 2011 to replace the state commerce department. The former department's mission to create jobs remained, but supporters insisted the new organization would be able to act more efficiently. WEDC offers businesses grants, loans and tax credits in exchange for creating jobs.

One problem, according to the bureau's finding, is that WEDC has not been compiling job creation data as required. It is supposed to show whether employers who have received state loans and grants have actually created or retained jobs.

The governor initially wanted to merge WEDC with WHEDA, which appropriates low-interest housing loans, to create one authority that would distribute money for both housing and economic development projects.

In scrapping his proposal, Walker released a statementsaying that it is not the appropriate time to move forward with a merger.

WEDC has been plagued with high turnover in leadership and failure to track some of the funding it has awarded.  Spokesman Reed Hall says the agency is improving and experiencing successes.

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