Governor Scott Walker has named a new economic development leader for the state — choosing a man who didn't apply for the job.
The governor has named Reed Hall to head the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Hall took over as interim CEO last fall, after financial oversight problems surfaced at the agency. Hall did not apply for the permanent position, but Governor Walker says he wasn't satisfied with the three finalists suggested by a WEDC search committee, and chose Hall. "This appointment is purely at the will of the governor. It's an at-will position. That's how it's defined. I didn't have to set up the process in the first place: I did, in consultation with the board of directors, because I wanted the board at the WEDC to play a more active role in that."
Hall acknowledges that the governor talked him into being the permanent CEO. He claims that he had no plans of moving up when he became the interim leader. "As I've stayed with the organization, it continues to be a very interesting organization. I've grown quite fond of a lot of people who are working very hard on economic development. ... It was hard to turn the governor down when he chatted."
hall says he doesn't know if he's getting a raise beyond his current pay rate of $120,000 per year. Democrats like Assembly minority leader Peter Barca say they're dismayed that governor walker spent $40,000 on an executive search firm and didn't find someone with more economic development experience: "The idea was to do a nationwide search, and to try to find someone who has done economic development successfully in some other state or some other region."
Barca wasn't part of the hiring committee, but serves on the WEDC board, and says he hopes to work well with Reed Hall.