Evers asks for entrepreneurship and innovation committee at WEDC

Would develop additional support strategies

Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers would like to form an entrepreneurship and innovation committee at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., his office announced today.

Gov. Tony Evers

The committee would coexist with WEDC’s current programs for entrepreneurs, which include support for startup accelerators, seed capital funds, microgrants, investment tax credits and technology development loans.

The newly inaugurated governor made a request for the committee’s creation to help boost Wisconsin’s small business creation, which is a driver of new jobs. Mark Hogan, secretary and chief executive officer of WEDC, plans to create the committee, according to WEDC spokesman Mark Maley.

Hogan, Evers’ office and the entrepreneurial community will immediately work together to choose committee members, who will develop additional support and resource strategies for the state’s entrepreneurs and startups, Maley said.

“Entrepreneurial traits like diversity, creativity and resilience are critical components of success in our constantly-evolving global economy,” Evers said. “In order for Wisconsin’s economy to thrive, we must foster a culture that supports entrepreneurship and innovation. Today’s announcement that WEDC will make entrepreneurship and innovation a priority is a great first step towards ensuring that entrepreneurs and Main Street businesses benefit from economic development funding.”

“Providing support and resources to Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs is vital to helping new businesses grow and thrive in our state, and I appreciate that Gov. Evers is focusing on this important issue,” Hogan said. “WEDC looks forward to developing this new committee that will represent the state’s entrepreneurship community, as well as working with that group to develop new and innovative ways to enhance our increasingly vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Lame-duck legislation passed just before Evers took office gave lawmakers control of WEDC until September, but Maley said the formation of this committee does not require legislative approval.

The WEDC’s entrepreneurship and innovation direct assistance programs awarded $17.8 million in total funding in 2017, down from $23.2 million in 2016, which was mainly driven by a drop in Qualified New Business Venture certifications issued to companies, according to the organization.

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.