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WEDC falls short of job creation projections

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin agency that's supposed to help create private-sector jobs fell short of its goal in the last fiscal year.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said its tax breaks, loans, and other programs for the year ending in June would create an estimated 37,000-plus jobs. That's below the department's goal of 50,000 jobs.

The public-private WEDC was formed in 2011 to replace the state Commerce Department, and focus on Governor Scott Walker's campaign promise to create a quarter-million jobs during his first four-year term. He had only reached a quarter of that goal at the halfway point of his term.

The head of the WEDC, Reed Hall, said his agency's original target for 50,000 jobs was overly optimistic.

He tells the Wisconsin State Journal its goal for the current year is almost 21,000 jobs, and the agency's on track to achieve that.

Hall said the WEDC issued almost $14 million in business loans in the last fiscal year, out of $44 million available. That's less than the $16 million loaned the year before -- but it was still higher than in the mid-2000's under the old Commerce Department.

Hall said the WEDC is more cautious with its loan approval policies, and some firms may not be seeking loans after two scathing state audits of his agency in the past year.