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Thu February 20, 2014
WEDC: Favoring Republican Districts Over Democratic Ones?
Citizen Action of Wisconsin is claiming the state's public-private job generating agency...Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.. is funneling jobs to places in Republican districts and mostly ignoring Democratic districts. A WEDC spokesperson says that is not true.
Citizen Action has been described as leaning Democratic. On the Citizen Action website, their analysis claims fewer jobs were generated in the city of Milwaukee, but the state found jobs in the more Republican suburban areas. Citizen Action of Wisconsin leader Robert Kraig...
"....and wierd situations where in one case $85,000 impacted 109 jobs, another case where $2 million dollars invested an zero jobs impacted, so there's a real question about what's being done with public money...."
The group's Kevin Kane says their numbers show some disparity...
"...in one small Assembly district the claim is over 6,000 jobs projected for that one small Assembly district, yet 14 Assembly districts have no jobs impacted by WEDC whatsoever. 22 Assembly Districts(are claimed) to have impacted over a thousand jobs where there's 25 districts with less than 100. So there's a very large variation...."
Kane says the Northwoods doesn't show as wide of a variable as in more Democratic areas of central Wisconsin.
But WEDC spokesperson Mark Maley says they don't make decisions based on politics. He says often interested companies request to go to a specific area and aren't put there as a political favor....
"...what we're focused on is economic development all over the state. We work with companies in all corners of the state. In order to make that happen, we absolutely do not make any political favorites or geographical favorites when it comes to granting awards...."
Maley says Amazon came to them specifically requesting a site near the Illinois border as an example. He says they recently awarded a million dollar grant to the city of Milwaukee to renovate an old automotive facility, but he says that won't show up on the Citizen Action report because jobs haven't been created yet.
Feds, state seeking solutions