State Big Business Lobby Discouraged State Economic Development Agency From Trying to Keep Major Corporation in Wisconsin … And Gov. Walker’s Administration Listened

Walker Revealed As Irrelevant, Apparently Out of Loop on Discussions of ‘High-Level’ Meetings

MADISON, Wis. — A media report breaking late this afternoon revealed the state big business lobby, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, told Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) not to reach out to Kraft Heinz in June of 2015. The directive came months before the parent company of Oscar Mayer announced it would shutter its Madison plant and move the corporate headquarters out of Wisconsin, directly costing the state roughly 1,000 jobs.

Throughout its existence, WEDC has been the prime example of the cronyism, corruption and incompetence of the Walker administration. Research by One Wisconsin Institute exposed the cozy relationship between Walker cronies and campaign contributors and his WEDC. The quasi-private agency is chaired by Dan Ariens, the same person who chairs the WMC board, and over 60 percent of WEDC economic development awards went to entities whose owners and employees contributed over $2 million to Gov. Walker’s campaigns.

The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross:

“It is unbelievable that the state big business lobby would seek to discourage the state economic development agency from reaching out to discuss incentives to keep jobs and a corporate headquarters in Wisconsin. But it seems that is exactly what happened.

“It is appalling that Gov. Walker’s WEDC would not do their job because a special interest lobby told them not to. And it is deeply disturbing the rank incompetence of not just his administration but of Gov. Walker exposed by this incident.

“Apparently the agencies in this administration felt no obligation to advise the Governor what was going on during his disastrous run for president, and “high-level” contacts between the state and major corporations don’t include the state’s chief executive anymore.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.