New panel will consider opportunities to advance start-ups in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI. SEPT. 11, 2019 – Lisa Mauer, the chair of the board of directors of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), today named 15 members to the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee, which will meet later this month.

“WEDC’s mission is to support businesses throughout Wisconsin and help them expand,” Mauer said. “The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee will help WEDC ensure that this vital sector has access to the resources needed to grow and thrive.”

The WEDC board created the committee in response to a request from Governor Tony Evers earlier this year. The governor noted at the time that Wisconsin lags other states in small business creation. He said the committee would complement WEDC’s existing programs to assist entrepreneurs.

Governor Evers welcomed the committee’s creation. “In order for Wisconsin’s economy to thrive, we must foster a culture that supports entrepreneurship and innovation, and invests in the quality-of-life priorities that will attract and retain the workforce of the future,” he said.

“That’s why I am excited to see WEDC’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee get started on their work. The state must be a leader in supporting small business owners, manufacturers, farmers and workers in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties as they embrace diversity, creativity and resilience. These entrepreneurial traits are critical components of success in our constantly evolving global economy,” the governor said.

The committee will be co-chaired by Joe Kirgues, co-founder of Milwaukee-based Gener8tor, and Rebecca Cooke, owner of Eau Claire-based Red’s Mercantile and founder of the Red Letter Grant. Both are also members of the WEDC Board of Directors.

Other committee members include:

  • Nancy Hernandez, of Milwaukee, founder and president of ABRAZO Marketing and president of the Hispanic Collaborative;
  • Fern Orie, of Lac du Flambeau, CEO of the Wisconsin Native Loan Fund and chair of the Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance;
  • Craig Dickman, of Green Bay, managing director of TitletownTech;
  • Jignesh M. Patel, of Madison, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and CEO of DataChat;
  • Larry Evinger, of Beloit, chief investment officer with Hendricks Commercial Properties;
  • Eugenia Podestá, of Madison, co-founder of Synergy Co-Working and senior director of Vital Voices Global Partnership;
  • Erik Iverson, of Madison, CEO of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF);
  • Kelly Ryan, of Wisconsin Rapids, CEO of Incourage;
  • Zach Halmstad, of Eau Claire, partner at Pablo Group and co-founder of Jamf;
  • John W. Miller, of Milwaukee, founder and principal of Arenberg Holdings;
  • Sarah Lloyd, of Wisconsin Dells, director of special projects with the Wisconsin Farmers Union and dairy farmer at NelDell Farms LLC;
  • Carl Ruedebusch, of Madison, president and CEO of Ruedebusch Development & Construction Inc. and manager of N29 Capital Partners LLC;
  • JoAnne Sabir, of Milwaukee, developer with Sherman Phoenix LLC.

The committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Monday, Sept., 16, at the WEDC offices, 201 W. Washington Ave., in Madison.