We love teaming up for the good of Wisconsin.

WEDC couldn’t do what it does without an innovative strategy and strong relationships with an extremely capable economic development community in Wisconsin. To foster that community, we invest in Key Strategic Partners with specialized skills and a proven track record of success. Their combined strength and expertise amplify WEDC’s efforts statewide and increase the economic impact of the funds we deploy. Their powerful work contributes significantly to the outcomes of our programs. Let’s take a look at the Key Strategic Partners, which are uniquely positioned to help WEDC meet its strategic goals.

Regional Economic Development Organizations – $775,000

WEDC provides funding for nine Wisconsin regional economic development organizations (EDOs): 7 Rivers Alliance, Centergy, Grow North, Madison Region Economic Partnership, Milwaukee 7, Momentum West, New North, Prosperity Southwest, and Visions Northwest. While the regional EDOs are organized differently to meet the needs of their respective communities, they all demonstrate regional collaboration with county economic development organizations, municipal economic development organizations, regional planning commissions, workforce development representatives, educators, and private sector stakeholders. WEDC works closely with the regional EDOs around the state to facilitate communication and coordinate support for local businesses and communities. Examples of such cooperation in FY23 include:

  • Holding regular meetings with local and county EDOs and chambers of commerce
  • Engaging, educating, and leveraging the local economic development partners within each region
  • Establishing regional roundtables with key industry leaders to discuss key drivers, needs, and issues facing the region
  • Employing a regular communication vehicle such as a newsletter or scheduled emails
  • Issuing an annual state of the region report
  • Educating elected officials and boards of directors on economic development
  • Conducting, causing to be conducted, or coordinating the regular business retention and expansion initiatives throughout the region and coordinating the input of results to be shared with WEDC
  • Conducting a marketing effort on behalf of the region and its partners; coordinating with WEDC on business and marketing initiatives incorporating the Wisconsin brand
  • Reaching out to rural portions of the region and helping them develop economic growth strategies addressing any housing, broadband, and/or child care needs
  • Hosting and coordinating discussions on entrepreneurship resources and assisting in promoting WEDC’s digital entrepreneurship platform
  • Leading and working with local partners to develop and enhance diverse business development strategies for the region
  • Working with local partners to identify what each region is doing to encourage investment in renewable energy systems or energy efficiency

In addition, the Regional Leadership Council, made up of the directors from the regional EDOs, identified key initiatives that could be deployed throughout the state in coordination with, and in advancement of, shared goals and strategies with WEDC.

Wisconsin Procurement Institute – $350,000

The Wisconsin Procurement Institute (WPI) helps companies sell products and services to federal, state, and local agencies as well as prime contractors. WPI navigates the government procurement process for small firms and helps them develop competitive processes and technical capabilities to earn federal, state, and local government contracts. In FY23, WPI engaged with 962 unique companies, helping them obtain $1.2 billion in contracts, resulting in 135 jobs created and 878 jobs retained.

Diverse Chambers of Commerce – $950,000

WEDC financially supports three statewide diverse chambers of commerce and their affiliated entities:

  • African American Chamber of Commerce – Madison Black Chamber; Wisconsin Black Chamber
  • First American Capital Corporation/American Indian Chamber of Commerce – Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance; Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County
  • Hmong Chamber of Commerce – Wisconsin United Coalition of Mutual Assistance; Latino Entrepreneurial Network, Latino Chamber of Commerce of Southeastern Wisconsin

In FY23, a total of 111 loans were processed by the chambers, providing more than $5.0 million in funding. This helped create 80 jobs and retain 387 jobs. In total, 1,040 businesses were supported by impactful technical assistance.

Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity– $1,250,000

The Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity (WCMP), working through the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center, provides advisory and implementation services to small and midsize manufacturers throughout Wisconsin to implement next-generation manufacturing strategies, increase business performance, and improve competitiveness and profitability through programs such as ExporTech™ and the Transformational Productivity Initiative, the outcomes of which are included within the respective program listings in this report. In FY23, WCMP reached 693 companies with services resulting in $28.2 million in cost savings, $110.9 million in new sales, $160.8 million in retained sales, $145.8 million in new investment, 594 jobs to be created, and 1,327 jobs retained.

Center for Technology Commercialization – $540,000

The Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) provides services delivered by staff and a statewide network of partners that include review and analysis of business models and commercialization plans; advice concerning patent, trademark, and copyright issues; and assistance to businesses in obtaining federal SBIR/STTR grants. In FY23, CTC provided counseling to 306 distinct business clients—activity expected to assist in the creation of 112 new jobs and the retention of an additional 320.5. Note: In addition to this one-on-one assistance, CTC provides significant, in-depth consultation to numerous other businesses in its administration of WEDC’s Entrepreneurial Micro-grant Program, SBIR/STTR Matching Grant Program, and the Ideadvance Seed Fund, which is supported through WEDC’s Capital Catalyst Program. Outcomes of those activities are included within the respective program listings in this report.

Wisconsin's Women's Business Initiative Corp. – $350,000

The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC) provides small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with an array of educational programming, individual consulting, and microloan assistance. In FY23, WWBIC provided 1,089 clients with impactful counseling services averaging more than seven hours per client. WWBIC’s microloan program provided more than $8.7 million in loan financing to small businesses, including 41 startups. Of the total loan amount, more than $865,000 served businesses in rural Wisconsin. WWBIC’s assistance is expected to facilitate the creation of 276 and retention of 215 positions.

Wisconsin Technology Council – $310,000

The Wisconsin Technology Council (WTC) contributes to the state’s high-tech and entrepreneurial economy through its policy work, hands-on work with investors and companies, educational forums, and networking events. In FY23, key WTC events—with combined attendance of 2,257 entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, and others—provided select entrepreneurs with unique opportunities and training to advance their ventures. The 2022 Early Stage Symposium featured 38 young firms showcasing their companies to an audience of investors and other advisors, while the 2023 Governor’s Business Plan Contest provided 44 of the 156 entrants with intensive “pitch” training and culminated in finalists presenting at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. In addition, the Wisconsin Technology Summit facilitated 205 meetings for 47 emerging companies. Through the Wisconsin Angel Network (WAN), housed within WTC, the organization held six educational seminars for angel and venture investors throughout Wisconsin and is assisting ongoing efforts to develop additional investment groups in the state. WTC/WAN leadership assisted 53 distinct companies in navigating channels for accessing investment capital, not including support rendered through the aforementioned event-based activities.

Brightstar Wisconsin Foundation – $50,000

BrightStar is a 501(c)(3)-designated nonprofit foundation that manages an equity investment fund capitalized by private donations. BrightStar invests primarily in technology-based, high-growth early-stage businesses to facilitate job creation and increase economic activity statewide. In FY23, BrightStar made four investments in startup and early-stage companies totaling $492,000.

Global Network of WEDC's Authorized Trade Representatives – $183,502

WEDC has authorized trade representatives located in high-volume and high-growth-potential markets for Wisconsin companies. In FY23, the Global Network covered 116 countries and consisted of 15 independent contractors, 13 of which fell under an umbrella contract managed by the Council of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. In FY23, the Global Network provided 61 in-country assistances and served 36 unique Wisconsin companies with WEDC export support services.