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New director's got history with PCEDC

Paul Schwebach succeeded Bill Warner as director of the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) in February. Schwebach, who’s primarily worked in the banking industry, is a founder and former board member of the PCEDC. (Herald photo by Bill Kirk)

Not only has he spent a quarter century involved in economic development, but Paul Schwebach is a founder and former board member of the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC).

So it’s no stretch Schwebach would become director of that corporation. He began his new role in February, succeeding the retiring Bill Warner.

“I was part of the original group,” the new director said Thursday, remembering teaming with other founders including Carl Braunreiter, a former Pierce County Board Supervisor, and Steve Healy, former president and CEO of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services. He especially recalled a flight to La Crosse for an economic development seminar which proved educational.

Last week, Schwebach showed an inscribed clock he was given upon leaving the PCEDC board in 1999, now displayed in the director’s office inside the Research Development Institute (RDI) building on the UW-River Falls campus. He noticed he’d forgotten to reset the clock with the arrival of Daylight Savings Time this spring, but rather than an embarrassing oversight, it was somehow symbolic of how his career has also advanced over time.

It’s actually rooted in banking. He said he attended graduate school for banking and studied business administration at Chippewa Valley Technical College. Because the banker invariably found himself working with economic developers, he agreed these two paths go hand-in-hand, just as his business skills did while he was promoted within the banking industry.

The public should understand PCEDC is a separate non-profit devoted to promoting business in Pierce County, Schwebach said, not a county department. It’s funded partially through the county, but also by individual annual memberships.

As director, he’s charged with attracting new businesses and retaining existing businesses. The owner of a 10-year enterprise, for example, might seek assistance expanding, and he can provide input on funding, work force, community zoning and more.

“Some (economic development organizations) deal only with industrials,” he said, explaining the PCEDC is wider-ranging.

For more please read the April 2 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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