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Head of state’s economic development quits (UPDATE)

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Paul Jadin, the former mayor of Green Bay who served as the first head of a quasi-public economic development agency created last year by Gov. Scott Walker, announced his resignation Thursday.

Jadin’s decision to quit the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation comes after questions were raised earlier this year about how he and the agency handled an offer of tax breaks to a company bidding on a multimillion dollar state contract.

Jadin is leaving Nov. 1 to become president of Thrive, an economic development partnership for an eight-county region in south-central Wisconsin.

Both Jadin and Walker were attending a WEDC board meeting in Brillion and weren’t immediately available to comment. Walker issued a statement praising Jadin, saying his leadership left the agency with a strong foundation for encouraging private sector job growth.

The latest jobs numbers released Thursday by Walker’s administration showed that since he took office, the state has created about 19,000 new private sector jobs. Walker promised to add 250,000 jobs by 2015, and is not on pace to meet that pledge.

Walker said he asked the WEDC board to conduct a nationwide search for a replacement, whom Walker will appoint.

Questions have abounded about the operations and effectiveness of the WEDC since it replaced the Department of Commerce in July 2011. Creating the new quasi-public agency was one of Walker’s first priorities when he took office that January.

Jadin earlier this year drew fire after he signed a letter to a Stevens Point-company, Skyward, offering them nearly $12 million in tax breaks contingent upon Skyward winning a contract to implement a statewide student information system. That new system was expected to cost the state about $15 million. Skyward has threatened to leave the state if it doesn’t get the contract, which hasn’t yet been awarded.

A day before the bids were due in June, Walker’s administration announced it was suspending the process because of concerns about the propriety of the tax breaks offered to Skyward. Democratic critics questioned whether the offer amounted to illegal bid rigging.

Walker was copied in on Jadin’s letter, but he said he didn’t receive it and Jadin admitted that letters were not sent to Walker even though they routinely said he was copied in.

Walker in July shook up leadership in the agency, appointing his deputy chief of staff Ryan Murray to the No. 2 position.

Jadin said in a statement Thursday that he’s proud of the work done by the agency during the short time he was there to “rebuild Wisconsin’s approach to economic development.”

“One of the unmet needs at WEDC is to establish a more robust extended enterprise, and my role at Thrive will allow me to create the model,” Jadin said in the statement.

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