By Tom Larson
Governor Walker recently announced that he was withdrawing his state budget proposal to merge four state agencies into two state agencies — the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority into the Forward Wisconsin Development Authority (FWDA), and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) into one agency.
The proposal has raised a number of concerns from the commercial development industry due to the uncertainty associated with the WEDC and WHEDA merger. While WEDC has received tremendous public criticism and scrutiny due to insufficient tracking and mismanagement of economic development loans, WHEDA has been consistently well managed and has received widespread public support for its management of various housing and economic development loan programs. Opponents of the merger were worried that WEDC’s problems could negatively impact the operations and management of WHEDA’s programs in the future.
NAIOP-WI did not take a formal position on the merger, but met with the governor’s senior management team during Government Day to discuss many of the same concerns that led to the withdrawal of the proposed agency merger.