MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Walker announced Tuesday interim Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation chief executive officer Reed Hall will assume the job on a permanent basis.
"Reed's experience at the Marshfield Clinic, in numerous civic organizations, and involvement in creating private sector jobs in Wisconsin makes him a perfect fit for this position," Walker said.
Hall served as executive director of Marshfield Clinic for a decade, ending in July 2010.
Walker selected Hall to head WEDC in November of last year as interim CEO in the wake of several high-profile problems at the agency, including failure to track $12 million in outstanding loans to businesses, and offering a participant in a competitive, multi-million dollar bid process an incentive, if the firm landed the contract.
Walker said local and regional economic partners have expressed confidence in Hall.
Hall's selection comes after WEDC retained a Madison firm to carry out an international search for candidates to lead the quasi-public economic development agency.
Walker by-passed three finalists culled from over one hundred applicants to promote Hall: former Kohler Company executives Michael Jenkins and Ralph Howard, who also was a past executive with Master Lock, and Jason Jensen of Middleton-based Parts Now, a supplies distributor.
"Hearing from that (WEDC board) search committee, talking personally to each of the existing members of the board of directors, there was an overall sense that people were excited the prospect of Reed Hall considering this position," Walker said.
Walker said hiring the head-hunting firm and staging the search process was important to reinforce WEDC's credibility, and to mirror practices in the private sector. WEDC is the public-private successor to the state department of commerce.
But board member Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) told 27 News the result of the process betrayed WEDC's stated commitment to be bold as a next generation economic development tool.
"I think the search firm is the one I would like to know, what we got for the taxpayer dollars we put forward," Barca said. "What kind of personnel did they actually offer to us?"
Walker said Hall bonded with WEDC staff during his interim tenure, and oversaw the launching of initiatives to address the loan tracking failure, and other challenges identified by a state audit late last year.
Hall said even his children questioned his willingness to accept the position beyond an interim phase. But Hall said he's prepared to serve as long as Walker is governor.
"I look on this as a rare opportunity to be able to do a public service after thirty six years in the private industry side of the business," Hall said.
Walker said Hall's leadership at WEDC will help contribute to Walker's stated goal of creating 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin by 2016. Statistics show Wisconsin currently lagging that job-growth pace.
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