During a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board meeting this week, Committee Chair Anne Smith introduced Williamson as the manager for the Wisconsin Investment Fund. This $50 million investment pool, funded by the State Small Business Credit Initiative, is designed to support innovative small businesses and boost the state’s economy.

Williamson previously worked as a chief investment officer for British Petroleum and the American National Red Cross and also has had experience in investment banking, entrepreneurship, and asset management. Having just completed his third week with the agency, Williamson said he is “thrilled to be able to help the WEDC with its venture program and in helping to grow opportunities within the state.”

Smith noted the committee has received 31 applications from various funds seeking to get involved with the program, including 19 Wisconsin-based organizations. Those funds collectively manage over $1.5 billion, with seven of them managing over $100 million and eight managing less than $10 million.

Smith expressed confidence that these groups are familiar with Wisconsin’s business landscape, noting “they had invested over $600 million already in Wisconsin businesses, so they know us.”

After reviewing applicants for the fund, committee members have selected 11 for further consideration. Smith said an initial recommendation has been created and will be presented to the Audit and Budget Committee of the WEDC Board on July 11.

Also during the meeting, WEDC Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Cambell gave an overview on the stringent conflict of interest rules established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which oversees the SSBCI.

Campbell explained board members of WEDC are considered “insiders” due to their authority in approving and overseeing programs. As a result, the Treasury mandates that no insiders have any financial interest in the funds or businesses in which investments will be made. To ensure no conflict of interest exists, WEDC will conduct a review of investments by board members, their families and business partners.

If a conflict of interest does arise, the WIF would be unable to invest in that fund or business, as the Treasury does not allow for recusals, Campbell said. But it was noted that if a conflicted board member divests their investment, the process could move forward.

Watch a video of the meeting here.