Former Wausau Economic Development Director Chris Schock speaks to council members about the former Connor Forest Industries property during a February 2020 meeting. Wausau Pilot & Review file photo

By Shereen Siewert

Wausau Economic Development Director Chris Schock is leaving his post in Wausau to move to Central America, officials said Tuesday.

An announcement was made Tuesday at an Economic Development Committee meeting.

He was hired in 2015 as the economic development manager with a salary of $65,000, but was promoted to the position in January 2017, following the retirement of Ann Werth, who retired in 2016. As director of Planning, Community and Economic Development, Schock spearheaded the city’s planning and growth along with grant programs for homeowners and major business development.

Schock is credited with a number of successes for Wausau including Riverlife Park, relocating Great Lakes Cheese and Wausau Chemical, and expanding the city’s business campus.

But he was often under fire, most recently in March after a Wausau Pilot & Review investigation revealed Schock was absent from work more than 57 days in 2019, paid days off that were approved by then-Mayor Robert Mielke as part of the city’s flexible scheduling policy.

Schock was also at the center of several development-related controversies, perhaps the most significant of which was reported in March 2018. That’s when a Wausau Pilot & Review investigation uncovered details about the CEO of the real estate development company overseeing a multi-million dollar riverfront development project for Wausau. The Pilot report revealed that one of two project partners had previously been mired in a $8.3 million securities ripoff scheme in Colorado, information that did not come to light during the city’s vetting process.

Also in March 2018, a $50 million plan for a new Liberty Mutual facility fell apart, days after Schock insisted the deal was still in the works. Plans for a 10-screen movie theater in the former Sears building at Wausau Center also did not come to fruition.

Tom Neal, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, said during Tuesday’s meeting he would miss Schock’s professionalism and called Schock a “joy to work with.”

“I will sorely miss him,” Neal said.