WEDC spokesman leaving agency to start Arizona business

WEDC spokesman leaving agency to start Arizona business

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Tom Thieding

Tom Thieding is leaving the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to start a public relations business in Arizona focused on hiking and the outdoors. 

The communications manager for the embattled Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is leaving the agency to start his own marketing company in Arizona.

Tom Thieding, who has served as WEDC spokesman since August, 2011, will step down effective Oct. 4.

Prior to joining WEDC, Thieding spent four years as director of marketing at Rural Mutual Insurance. Before that he worked 16 years as director of public relations at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

Thieding plans to launch a firm called Big Cactus Marketing to manage Take A Hike Arizona, a new guided hiking business in Cave Creek, Ariz.

“The plan is to be out there during the winter and spring months and return to Wisconsin, with my wife continuing to work at AAA Wisconsin,” he says.

WEDC is a quasi-private entity formed by Gov. Scott Walker to take over the economic development functions of the old Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

But the agency has struggled from the beginning, including failing to track nearly $9 million in loans, giving money to ineligible applicants and lacking basic internal controls, according to state audits.

The agency has replaced all three of its top positions within the past 12 months. Earlier this year, another public relations person left the agency shortly after being hired when it was learned he owed the state some $36,000 in back taxes.

WEDC has been conducting a search for a new public information manager, who will serve as media spokesman.

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