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Nettles Names Christenson as Director of Bureau of Entrepreneurship

Pamela Christenson will assume duties as director of the state Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Entrepreneurship. Commerce Secretary Cory Nettles announced the hire last week as a part of Gov. Doyle’s Grow Wisconsin initiative.

“Part of the key to our successful entrepreneurial efforts for the technology community really lie in collaborative efforts. We hope to connect the tech community and those folks interested in starting technology businesses to the right people,” Christenson said.

Christenson’s duties will include assisting companies in finding resources for growth and guiding small businesses toward fulfilling state regulatory requirements. For four years she was the small business ombudsman for the Department of Commerce, a position that Nettles says perfectly qualifies her as director, since the position will also specialize in start-up business assistance and advocacy.

“I’ve worked with different tech agencies in the past on the different advocacy issues and problems that they’ve faced with other state agencies,” Christenson said.

“Pam’s impressive credentials make her an ideal candidate for this position. I am confident that she will be a great asset in fulfilling our mission to foster economic development in Wisconsin,” Nettles said.
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One of the hurdles Christenson will face is Wisconsin’s budget woes and how the Bureau of Entrepreneurship will focus on assisting small businesses, both technology and non-technology-based. Christenson said her department will focus on preparing its employees to field a wide range of issues that effect each business sector differently.

“We’re looking at the existing resources and ... [will] use what we have to the best of our abilities,” Christenson said. “We’ll be training some of our people so that they know that needs for the technology businesses are a little different than lifestyle businesses. We’re looking at some things electronically as well.”

One of those things could be expanding wisconsin.gov’s Business Wizard to more high-tech entrepreneurial ventures. This would aid in connecting small-tech businesses to outside resources, such as venture capitalists. While Christenson isn’t banking on venture capital to fully fuel Wisconsin’s tech industry in the upcoming year, she does admit to seeing the investors as a key role for the future of business entrepreneurship in the sector.

“Obviously, we’d love to see them invest and plant that seed in small businesses here in Wisconsin,” she said.

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Michael Jones is a Madison-based writer.

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