Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday he has chosen retired banking executive and long-time political supporter Mark R. Hogan to take the helm of the troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
“Mark Hogan is a proven and respected leader in finance and business, and we are honored to have him as a partner in our efforts to grow the economy, create jobs and keep Wisconsin heading in the right direction,” Walker said in a statement. “Mark’s experience will be invaluable as WEDC continues to reform and improve processes to best serve the citizens of this state in developing economic opportunities for families all around Wisconsin.”
Hogan will be paid $195,000 annually and he will likely start in October, Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said. Current WEDC CEO Reed Hall announced last week that he would retire on Sept. 25.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said in a statement that while he’s heartened by Hogan’s private- and financial-sector experience, he’s disappointed that the choice, other potential candidates or the selection process, weren’t discussed with the WEDC board at a meeting last week.
Walker removed himself as chairman of the board in the latest state budget but still appoints the CEO under state law with Senate approval, though Senate action isn’t necessary before Hogan starts.
Barca also called it “curious” that Walker selected a campaign donor for the role.
Hogan has contributed nearly $25,000 to Walker’s political campaigns going back to 2005, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. And he has most recently given $10,000 to Unintimidated PAC, the Super PAC supporting Walker’s presidential candidacy that can receive unlimited contributions. Hogan’s son, Patrick, previously worked for the Walker gubernatorial campaign.
“A change of leadership was desperately needed at this agency but unfortunately, there are persistent problems with the structure of WEDC,” Barca said. “We hope that newly appointed Secretary Hogan will work with us on this process.”
Hogan said that “we will continue to work in partnership with Wisconsin business leaders, so they can grow and expand and create more good-paying, family-supporting jobs.”
Hogan has nearly 40 years of experience in the banking industry. He retired as executive vice president/chief credit officer from M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank and has served as a senior adviser to BMO Harris Bank since 2011.
Hogan has served as board chairman for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority since March. He also serves on the board of the Children’s Hospital & Health System, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council, Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee.
Hogan, of Wauwatosa, is a Green Bay native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Marquette University. He and his wife, Janet, have three adult children.
Hall’s departure represents the latest in a management turnover at the agency, which has faced questions almost since its inception.
WEDC has also been the subject of a series of unflattering legislative audits. And in May, a State Journal investigation revealed WEDC gave a $500,000 unsecured loan in 2011 to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company at the urging of Walker’s top aides.