Survey of Local Economic Development Organizations
Al Anderson, Director, UW-Center for Community Development
Roger Nacker, President, Wisconsin Economic Development Institute
December 2, 2003
A survey of Local Development Organizations (LDO’s) was conducted in Spring of 2002
by the UW-Center for Community Development and the Wisconsin Economic
Development Institute (WEDI) in partnership with the Wisconsin Economic
Development Association (WEDA).
Given the economic fluctuations of the past few years, economic development (ED) has
become a dominant theme for discussion in the popular press and by the legislature.
How does economic development happen in Wisconsin and who does it? The survey was
designed to help describe and quantify the amount of economic development effort at the
local level in the state.
The survey found that new jobs and an increased tax base are considered priorities for ED
success. The organizations surveyed are focused primarily on business development
strategies and most are partnering with local and state government. The survey looked at
budgets, funding sources, staffing, salaries, and more, as it examined current economic
development efforts in Wisconsin.
This study illustrates the significant collective efforts that are put into ED at the local
level across the state. Resources total $200 million dollars a year to operate ED
organizations in Wisconsin. For these organizations, the top business development
strategies include expanding existing industry and retaining existing industry.
There are a large number of Local Development Organizations (LDO’s) in the state. For
example, WEDA, the professional trade association for ED in Wisconsin, has almost 500
members. However, not all practicing ED personnel are members of WEDA. A good
estimate is that there are 800 to 900 ED organizations throughout the state. This study
used a systematic random sample of the entire universe of ED organizations in Wisconsin
to select the