13 Dec Secretary Nettles leaving Commerce for law practice
Cory Nettles, secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce, said on Friday that he would resign from his post on December 31 to become a partner in the law firm Quarles & Brady’s Milwaukee office.
Nettles has served in Governor Jim Doyle’s administration for two years. He will be returning to the firm he worked at before Doyle appointed him.
“I have learned a great deal from Governor Doyle as a leader, a boss, and a friend,” he said in a statement released Friday.
Nettles was seen by many to bolster Doyle’s position as a pro-business democrat, crossing the sometimes sharp dividing line down the middle of the state Legislature.
- Read a WTN interview with Nettles earlier this year, in which he discusses Commerce initiatives, protecting jobs and marketing the state.
He also was an advocate for the high-tech business community here, said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, which adivses the governor on technology issues. “He has helped shine a spotlight on Wisconsin’s strengths and worked tirelessly to meet our economic challenges,” Still said.
James Leonhart, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Biotech and Medical Devices Association, said Nettles brought energy to the task of building Wisconsin’s biotech presence.
“He was frequently a part of the ‘gather all the resources’ team that came
together to incent a company or keep them here,” Leonhart said. “[We were] extremely grateful that Secretary Nettles supported and helped fund getting 18 Wisconsin biotech companies to the national BIO conference in San Francisco this past summer so that they could be showcased among the world’s leading-edge companies.”
Doyle said he would appoint a successor to the position soon. Nettles’ successor will have several projects to pick up, such as the implementation of Act 255. The act, which became law earlier this spring, provides tax credits for investors in companies certified by the Department of Commerce.
Drawing support from both sides of the Legislature, it was one of several economic stimulus packages developed during Nettles’ run.
“We built a foundation last year with Act 255 and with regulatory reform,” said state Senator Ted Kanavas, a Republican. “But I thinik it’s obvious that we need another economic growth package that will come out of the Senate and the Assembly that will be very forward-looking.”
The act also led to the creation of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network, which will tie together state resources for start-ups.
“Under his leadership, entrepreneurship became an integral component of the Department of Commerce economic development strategy,” said Erica Kauten, state director of the Small Business Development Center. “Realizing that greater opportunities to translate economic development into reality would come through partnerships, the agency worked more closely with the UW-Extension Small Business Development Center than ever before.”
The governor’s recent biotech proposals will also need a strong negotiator behind them, Still said. Doyle has unveiled plans for a $375 million center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus that, while mostly privately funded, would also require state funding in the midst of a tight budget.
Kanavas said many legislators have not been sufficiently briefed on the project.
Nettles’ announcement brought disappointment from many in the business community, but all in all he left on a positive note.
“We will miss him,” Leonhart said. “He was just getting the train headed in the right direction.”
Jason Stitt is WTN’s associate editor and can be reached at