Donors Prosper, But Small Businesses Are Ignored at Walker’s Economic Disaster Corporation

Jul 29, 2014

Small businesses have gotten short-changed at Scott Walker’s flagship jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, in favor of rewarding donors at large corporations.
That’s according to an analysis by One Wisconsin Now, which found that Scott Walker benefitted from more than $2 million in campaign cash from WEDC aid recipients who in turn received $570 million in economic assistance from WEDC — nearly 60 percent of the total award disbursements.

But while rewarding Walker’s corporate campaign donors, WEDC has ignored small businesses and has failed to utilize more than $75 million in funds allocated to assist new business start-ups — despite having a multi-million dollar advertising budget designed to attract such new ventures and new talents.

Walker’s lack of understanding about the significant role entrepreneurship plays in stimulating our economy has consequences; small businesses drive our economy. According to the Small Business Administration, since the 1970s small businesses account for 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of net new private sector jobs. Research also indicates that young companies account for 40 percent of net new private sector jobs.

Only it’s the absence of new small businesses and entrepreneurial activity that is driving our economy – down. The most recent federal jobs data shows Wisconsin lagging behind the rest of the nation and our neighbors as we rank dead last — 10th out of 10 states — in the Midwest and 35th in the nation overall on job creation. Meanwhile, the entrepreneurship organization the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation shows Wisconsin continues to rank among the worst-performing states for entrepreneurship, 46th out of the 50 states.

And just yesterday, a new survey released by project hiring site Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation revealed that small business owners across Wisconsin rank the state just a C- when it comes to support for small business owners. 

But CEOs at large corporations like the ones lead by Walker’s donors and at Walker’s Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce? They say Walker’s doing just fine as the economic assistance keeps rolling in.

“Investing in the ideas and the entrepreneurs of the future is a winning economic development strategy by every measure except one — it doesn’t boost Scott Walker’s campaign war chest,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Wednesday. “At dead last in the Midwest on job creation we might not be ‘Open for Business,’ but Wisconsin sure is open for cronyism at Walker’s Economic Disaster Corporation.”