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Warner to leave position as Pierce EDC director

ELLSWORTH -- Bill Warner, who has been executive director of the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation for nearly 14 years, has announced his resignation.

Warner said Monday that he intends to leave the post by mid-October. He has held the executive director position for the past seven years and for another seven years earlier.

He said he is leaving because of "a whole range of personal issues, a feeling that a lot of years in one place is good in some ways and not good in other ways and a feeling that the EDC would be better served with a new perspective."

Warner said he hasn't gotten as much done as he would have liked.

Each year, he said, he starts with "a laundry list of things I'd like to accomplish, but the year zooms by and I still haven't done it."

Also, said Warner, he and his wife now have three children in high school and that "takes a fair amount of focus."

He said he'd like work that is more flexible and "a little more time closer to home, family-centered time."

Warner said a question asked by entrepreneur students at Ellsworth High School has nagged at him.

"After listening to me yammer at them for a while, they said, 'Wait a minute, why don't you start your own business?'" recalls Warner.

At the time, he said, he wondered if he was "too chicken" to take the risk.

Now, said Warner, he has a "whole bunch" of ideas -- he might work project to project, or he might write a children's book.

"Who knows?" said Warner, adding that now is a good time to investigate different things.

He is pleased with the PCEDC's accomplishments.

"We ran a really good revolving loan fund for the county for a number of years," said Warner. "Our clients have been really good at repaying us."

He said he found challenge in working on the nuts-and-bolts of small business financing, and the program's loss ratio has been quite good.

But, although the county will keep its revolving loan committee, the staff work for that will soon be turned over to Regional Business Fund Inc., a part of the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

The state approved the transfer five years ago, but at that time Pierce didn't want to go with the regional fund, said Warner.

He said the PCEDC board will meet this week with investors and other stakeholders to look at the program, consider changes and begin to decide what it needs for leadership.

Warner holds a master of management degree from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor's degree in government from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

He and his family live in River Falls.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.