President’s Message: Matt Mikolajewski

WEDA President Matt Mikolajewski

As I closeout my tenure as your WEDA President, I would like to take a moment to pass along some important notes of appreciation.  First, to the WEDA Board and individuals who served on WEDA committees throughout the year.  As economic development practitioners, all of our time is over-booked, and yet, so many of our members step-up and are willing to help the organization.  I would like to thank all of our financial sponsors for continuing to recognize and invest in WEDA’s work.  Our contracted staff, especially Kathy Heady, Kathy Davies, and Mike Harrigan enhanced the strength of WEDA’s programming throughout the year.  Finally, Brian Doudna and Michael Welsh devoted the skill and time needed to further grow the benefit and influence of WEDA throughout 2019.  Serving as your President has been an enjoyable experience because of all the hard work of these other individuals.

Throughout 2019, WEDA continued to expand the influence of the organization over Statewide economic development efforts, while providing tools and resources to better serve individual members in their home communities.  At our fall conference, we welcomed an unprecedented six State agency heads.  On numerous occasions throughout the year, we were called upon by Legislators and other organizations to share our thoughts on pending legislation.  We now firmly have a seat at the table in the Capitol thanks to the great work of our staff and the support of many WEDA members.

For individual members, our education offerings were expanded in 2019 with Academy sessions on very timely topics including workforce housing, TIF, development agreements, redevelopment, and food systems.  Best of all, WEDA became a certified education provider through the National Development Council.  As a result, most of our course offerings will satisfy continuing education requirements for the upcoming EDFP recertification.  Check-back often on the WEDA website for another robust year of Academy course offerings in 2020.

Our upcoming Governor’s Conference on Economic Development in Madison promises to expand how we view economic development within our communities; what we focus on and how we approach our work.  The theme of Social Impact Investing will draw new attendees to the conference from foundations and community based organizations.  Economic Development is a team sport.  We will continue to become a better, more impactful organization by adding new members to the WEDA team, and I welcome a great number of first time conference attendees in early February.

What would you like to see in the way of future conference themes, Academy topics, and advocacy at the Capitol?  As a WEDA member, this is your organization.  I encourage you to participate, volunteer, and contribute.  I wish our new President and WEDA’s leadership continued success in the New Year!  I look forward to the upcoming year for WEDA and will enjoy seeing you all soon in my capacity as a Past President.