The Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. is moving into a period of soul-searching in the wake of its executive director’s resignation.
Jennifer Brown “submitted her resignation to pursue new opportunities,” according to a news release from KCEDC on Thursday. She plans to continue until mid-February to assist with finalizing the Kewaunee Waterfront plan and other ongoing projects.
Lynn Kroll, spokesperson for the KCEDC, said in an interview that the organization is in the early stages of a “strategic visioning” process.
“It’s what does this organization do, and what does it look like for the future,” Kroll said.
The County Board has cut the county’s annual contribution to the private-public partnership from $40,000 three years ago to $30,000 in 2017 and $18,000 for 2018.
Kroll acknowledged that the reduction is part of the reason why Brown is leaving.
“Our organization doesn’t have enough funding to sustain a director full time,” Kroll said Thursday.
County Board Chairman Robert Weidner and other supervisors said during the budget process that the county’s initial $50,000 investment in KCEDC more than a decade ago was intended as one-time “seed money” but evolved into the expectation of an annual donation.
Kroll said as a public-private partnership, the corporation always considered the county as one of its investors. Even at the reduced level the Kewaunee County government is still the KCEDC’s single largest contributor.
Brown has been instrumental in the development and successful implementation of many initiatives and projects in the county, the release said. Notable accomplishments include Agricultural Career Days, the expansion of Agropur, Kewaunee County Buy Local, Taste of the County, the $4.2 million state Harbor Assistance grant for the City of Kewaunee Harbor revitalization, and the first Door-Kewaunee Legislative Days in 2009.
She also organized the community response to the closures of Kewaunee Power Station and Algoma Hardwoods along with other projects.
“I have had the great pleasure to work with Jennifer for the past 4 years as board chair, and KCEDC owes a debt of gratitude for Jennifer’s vision and leadership,” board chairman Lynie Vincent said. “She will be greatly missed as she moves to her next challenge in her career.”
“As KCEDC works on the future of the organization, we will be proactively engaging all interested parties in a progressive, positive strategy that benefits all investors of the organization,” the news release concluded. “If you would like to be included, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
[Photo caption: Kewaunee Superintendent Karen Treml, left, receives the Vocal Local Award last spring from Jennifer Brown, executive director of Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp.]