Greetings! As I move into my new role leading the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Division of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, I wanted to thank those of you who have provided encouragement and offer a few thoughts about future directions for our support of Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs and tech-based companies. For those of you that worked with my predecessor, Lisa Johnson, you know that I have some pretty big shoes to fill. Big, enthusiastic, passionate, excited shoes. Duplicating Lisa’s energy is a fool’s errand, so I won’t pretend to try on that front. What we do share, however, is a passion for this work and the deeply held belief that we can make an important difference for pioneers and risk-takers looking to start and launch new businesses in Wisconsin.

I come to this role after working directly with many of Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs and innovators on their journey to identify the resources necessary to move their ideas forward. I have seen the positive impact that WEDC’s support can make on a growing company, and I look forward to doing what I can to increase and enhance the effectiveness and impact of our efforts.

As citizens and taxpayers, we are all stakeholders in the success of these innovators, and I am keenly aware that our underlying premise is to support opportunity and prosperity in Wisconsin. The Division of Entrepreneurship and Innovation focuses on a slice of the economic development pie that, though small, has incredible potential to impact our collective economic future. By supporting entrepreneurs and their emerging companies, we are playing the long game and setting the stage for future growth and success. We are incredibly proud of the impact that our programs make in supporting high-skill and high-wage jobs, capital investment, company growth and other near-term metrics. But we must also keep our eye on the horizon and think of where these companies can go over the next 10, 20 or even 100 years. Big companies with a global impact have to start somewhere, and the E&I division at WEDC is dedicated to offering support for those future big companies today, when they are at a smaller and more vulnerable stage.

So again, thank you for supporting our collective efforts to grow the next generation of companies in Wisconsin. I can’t wait to see what we achieve together in the coming years.

Aaron Hagar