The appointment of Richard J. Leinenkugel as secretary of the state Department of Commerce brings a combination of historic Wisconsin roots and 21st century business experience to a state agency that routinely deals with the state’s economic development challenges, Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still said Friday.

Leinenkugel, a fifth-generation member of the family that founded one of Wisconsin’s iconic breweries, was named Friday by Gov. Jim Doyle.

“As Wisconsin continues to reshape its economy, it’s important to have leaders who understand the state’s core businesses as well as the strategies and policies that will enhance economic prosperity in a global economy,” Still said. “Dick Leinenkugel’s experience and knowledge of the state makes him a natural fit for the Commerce secretary’s job.”

Leinenkugel, who is vice president of sales and marketing at the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, will begin serving Sept. 29.

Leinenkugel’s family launched the brewery 141 years ago in Chippewa Falls. It is now a part of the Miller Brewing Co. Leinenkugel, 50, earned a degree in business administration from Marquette University and served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He began his career with the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in 1987 as a district sales manager and chain sales manager. In addition to his sales and marketing duties, he is group manager for specialty and craft brands for Miller. Leinenkugel previously served on the Waukesha County Board of Supervisors.

The Commerce Department provides development assistance in areas such as marketing, business and community finance, exporting and small business advocacy.  The Technology Development Loan and Grant program is managed through Commerce, as well as other programs that relate to tech-based economic development. The secretary of Commerce is a standing member of the board of directors for the Tech Council, which is the independent, non-profit science and technology adviser to the governor and the Legislature.

The Tech Council issues “white papers” on policy matters related to tech-based development in Wisconsin, including ideas related to growing the supply of investment capital, the availability of human capital, encouraging technology transfer and enhancing the entrepreneurial climate. The Tech Council’s long-term goals in those areas and more were first issued in “Vision 2020: A Model Wisconsin Economy,” published in 2002.