Wisconsin Economic Development Institute Update: WEDI President Rob Kleman

Newer WEDA members may not be familiar with the Wisconsin Economic Development Institute (WEDI), which is the independent, non-profit, 501c3 Foundation of WEDA. That’s about to change, and I’m pleased to brief you on the important past, present, and future role of WEDI and how it can benefit WDA and economic development in Wisconsin.

What originally began as a WEDA “taskforce” back in the late 1990’s to focus on public policy research and related applications, WEDI has evolved into an important fiscal mechanism to support WEDA’s overall mission. As such, WEDI is in a unique position to support collaborative investment and underwriting relationships.  For example, and due to the support of various grants, WEDI has most recently: 1.) Developed an initiative to create economic prosperity plans for Wisconsin Native American Tribes; and 2.) Delivered technical assistance grants to local EDO’s for entrepreneurial activities.

Equally important, WEDI is exploring additional grant opportunities with strategic partners and foundations, including those that would assist with providing value-added and niche programming for Wisconsin’s underserved populations and communities.

This relationship between WEDI and WEDA creates a win-win for Wisconsin’s economic development practitioners and their organizations. For transparency and accountability purposes, the contractual arrangements between WEDI and WEDA (which are mainly administrative in nature) are reviewed and approved by the Boards from each organization, respectively. To enhance these relations, as well as to add more continuity, the WEDA Past-Board Chair (or designee) now serves as a member of the WEDI Board and the WEDI Board President (or designee) serves as a member of the WEDA Board.

In closing, WEDI continues to support WEDA’s efforts, and it is continuously looking for additional and new ways to provide value-added services to WEDA’s membership. Interested in learning more about WEDI? Contact WEDA’s V.P. of Legislative Affairs & Communications Michael Welsh at mwelsh@weda.org.