Evers’ budget drops WEDC’s $10 million talent attraction request

Agency will have spent $6.8 million by end of fiscal year

The budget proposed by Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday did not include $10 million requested by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. for talent attraction initiatives.

A version of the marketing WEDC has used to recruit veterans to the state.

Lawmakers last year approved $6.8 million in spending to attract millennials, veterans and graduates of higher education institutions in the state to relocate to Wisconsin. The initiative was proposed by then-Gov. Scott Walker. It launched with a marketing campaign in Chicago that included advertising on trains and other locations around the city.

In its budget request, WEDC sought to turn the one-time appropriation from lawmakers into a $5 million annual spending plan.

“Just as all states and communities offer some type of business incentive as part of their economic development programs, they are now also spending money to support the talent pipeline needs,” said the agency’s request, which was made while Walker was still governor.

The budget proposed by Evers did not include the $5 million annual request, leaving the agency with whatever remains of the money lawmakers set aside last year.

In an email, Melissa Baldauff, an Evers spokeswoman, highlighted the governor’s proposed $1.4 billion investment in K-12 education, along with investments in the University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Technical Colleges, transportation infrastructure and economic development.

“We know that these are issues workers and businesses alike value, and believe this type of investment is key to attracting and retaining a talented workforce,” Baldauff said.

Kelly Lietz, vice president of marketing and brand strategy at WEDC, said in an email that based on current and projected investments, the full $6.8 million would be allocated within the current fiscal year.

Lietz also said the agency’s efforts, implemented with the Department of Workforce Development and Department of Veterans Affairs, had generated more than 100 million paid media impressions and 370,000 website sessions. He said 12,000 website visitors had taken “specific actions signaling interest in a move to Wisconsin.” Visits to seven military bases also led to 675 leads from active military members seeking employment following their enlistment.

“We have also succeeded in garnering significant national earned media touting Wisconsin’s unique economic, cultural and recreational assets,” Lietz said.

Evers’ budget faces an uphill climb with Republicans in control of both the state Senate and Assembly. Republican leaders have indicated they plan to create their own budget from current law.

The WEDC request could be added be added back into the budget by lawmakers. Evers could use his partial veto powers to block it. Republicans would need a two-thirds vote in both houses to overturn a veto.

The budget proposed by Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday did not include $10 million requested by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. for talent attraction initiatives.

A version of the marketing WEDC has used to recruit veterans to the state.

Lawmakers last year approved $6.8 million in spending to attract millennials, veterans and graduates of higher education institutions in the state to relocate to Wisconsin. The initiative was proposed by then-Gov. Scott Walker. It launched with a marketing campaign in Chicago that included advertising on trains and other locations around the city.

In its budget request, WEDC sought to turn the one-time appropriation from lawmakers into a $5 million annual spending plan.

“Just as all states and communities offer some type of business incentive as part of their economic development programs, they are now also spending money to support the talent pipeline needs,” said the agency’s request, which was made while Walker was still governor.

The budget proposed by Evers did not include the $5 million annual request, leaving the agency with whatever remains of the money lawmakers set aside last year.

In an email, Melissa Baldauff, an Evers spokeswoman, highlighted the governor’s proposed $1.4 billion investment in K-12 education, along with investments in the University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Technical Colleges, transportation infrastructure and economic development.

“We know that these are issues workers and businesses alike value, and believe this type of investment is key to attracting and retaining a talented workforce,” Baldauff said.

Kelly Lietz, vice president of marketing and brand strategy at WEDC, said in an email that based on current and projected investments, the full $6.8 million would be allocated within the current fiscal year.

Lietz also said the agency’s efforts, implemented with the Department of Workforce Development and Department of Veterans Affairs, had generated more than 100 million paid media impressions and 370,000 website sessions. He said 12,000 website visitors had taken “specific actions signaling interest in a move to Wisconsin.” Visits to seven military bases also led to 675 leads from active military members seeking employment following their enlistment.

“We have also succeeded in garnering significant national earned media touting Wisconsin’s unique economic, cultural and recreational assets,” Lietz said.

Evers’ budget faces an uphill climb with Republicans in control of both the state Senate and Assembly. Republican leaders have indicated they plan to create their own budget from current law.

The WEDC request could be added be added back into the budget by lawmakers. Evers could use his partial veto powers to block it. Republicans would need a two-thirds vote in both houses to overturn a veto.

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