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Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday called for the state's economic development agency to strengthen its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. 

"Entrepreneurial traits like diversity, creativity, and resilience are critical components of success in our constantly-evolving global economy," Evers said in a statement. "In order for Wisconsin’s economy to thrive, we must foster a culture that supports entrepreneurship and innovation."

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan said the agency looks forward to creating a committee that will work with entrepreneurs and foster innovation throughout the state.

"Providing support and resources to Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs is vital to helping new businesses grow and thrive in our state, and I appreciate that Governor Evers is focusing on this important issue," Hogan said in a statement.

The new committee will work with existing WEDC programs that support startup accelerators, seed capital funds, microgrants, investment tax credits, technology development loans, training and mentorship, according to a news release from Evers' office. 

During his campaign for governor, Evers said he planned to dissolve the quasi-public agency and return to a fully public model. 

A set of laws passed by the Republican Legislature during a lame-duck session last month gave lawmakers greater influence over WEDC and gave the WEDC board, not the governor, the authority to appoint the agency's CEO. Evers' power to appoint a CEO will be restored in September 2019.

Evers has since told reporters he will not make moves to eliminate the agency in his first budget.

"It hampers my ability to lead on economic development, so we’re going to need to work around it," Evers said of the lame-duck law in a recent interview. "We’re continuing to do that, reaching out to business leaders in the state directly to see how they would like WEDC to look going forward."

Evers said the creation of the new committee "a great first step towards ensuring that entrepreneurs and Main Street businesses benefit from economic development funding.”

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