7 Rivers Alliance - December 2015 e-Newsletter         
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Dear Community Members,

During the past 30 days, I had the privilege of representing our region as part of two trade delegations to Central and South America.  I quickly discovered that the global marketplace is rapidly changing and new trade opportunities are available in Central and South America for those businesses and organizations that are ready to expand into new markets. These visits were trans-formative and increased my understanding of what we need to do to help our businesses become trade ready.  Participating in trade visits, with economic development professionals from other cities, also helped me to identify the work that we need to undertake to better promote our region and our incredible assets.  In the upcoming months, I will be working with the Board of Directors to plan our course of work for 2016 to support global business.

Understanding the needs of regional businesses is also a priority for the 7 Rivers Alliance.  We are pleased to provide the final version of the 2015 Business Survey.  An overview of the results was shared at our State of The Region meeting.  See below for the link to the full report and the executive summary.

Also in this newsletter, you will find a recap of our Revitalize Storefronts event that was held on November 19, 2015 in Cashton, Wisconsin.  Special thanks to our sponsors:  SW Wisconsin ITBEC, Monroe County Economic Development, F&M Bank, Bank of Cashton and State Bank Financial.  As a result of the feedback from this event, we will be planning a follow up seminar in 2016 to share innovative funding strategies for revitalization. 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve the 7 Rivers Region,

Lisa Herr
Executive Director


The 2015 Regional Business Survey Results are in!
We are pleased to share the final version of our 2015 Report of 145 regional businesses from throughout the region.  This year, the ECO DEVO group worked to ensure the survey questions gathered valuable information and we had participation from all three states.  We think you will find the full report very informative.

To view the results in full detail,
click here.
 We have also posted a two page executive summary for a quick read.

Special thanks to everyone who helped with conducting the business visits.  These reports will also be posted on our website for future reference.

Revitalize Storefronts a big success!
The Revitalize Event was a great success with 60 attendees. The event focused on innovative solutions, national trends, best practices, and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts. 

We have posted links to the presentations on our website for your reference. Click here to view the presentations online. 
Next ECO DEVO Meeting: December 9th in Winona, MN
Join us for our next ECO DEVO Meeting on December 9th, 2015 from 10 am to 12 pm. This meeting will held in Winona, MN at the Winona County Government Center.  The address is 177 Main Street Winona, MN 55987.  Natalie Siderius, Economic Development and Sustainability Director, will be updating us on the SE Minnesota Workforce recruitment and retention project. We will discuss the results of the 2015 Business Survey and plan regional programs for 2016. To RSVP, email 
To RSVP, email

From October 26 to 30, 2015, Lisa Herr participated in a US trade delegation that visited Córdoba, Argentina.  During the visit, she toured the region and met with major food and healthcare manufacturers.  She also built relationships with trade directors from Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Chile. "I returned to the United States with a new found inspiration for building on the relationships that  I established.  I look forward to connecting our businesses to the contacts that I made during this trip."

From November 16 – 18th, Lisa Herr participated in the America’s Competitiveness Exchange in Guatemala City, Guatemala. She met with Trade Directors from Central and South America to plan future trade visits.  Lisa also  met with business leaders seeking to developing vendor/supplier relationships with companies in the 7 Rivers Region.  “There is a new commitment to transparency in the governments and a desire to expand trade among the America’s.  The relationships I established will be helpful as we plan our export strategy for the 7 Rivers Region” Lisa reported.   Next, the 7 Rivers Alliance will be working to  plan reciprocal trade visits with economic development and business leaders from two to three select countries.

Western Technical College was one of 38 institutions of higher learning invited to participate in the American Campuses Act on Climate Round table Nov. 19 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
President Lee Rasch represented the college in discussions about climate change solutions facilitated by the White House and the State Department. The award recognizes innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate change mitigation, and resilience at college and university campuses that participate in Second Nature’s Climate Commitments.

For more information on this award,
click here. 

(The attached photo shows Western President Lee Rasch (right) with the president of Lane Community College in Oregon, Mary Spilde, at the American Campuses Act on Climate Roundtable in Washington, D.C.)
Crawford County is searching for an Executive Director for the Crawford County Economic Development Corporation. This is a full-time, permanent position based in Prairie du Chien with a competitive salary and full benefits package.
The full position description, including application instructions, is attached. We will be accepting applications through December 31st, 2015.

For more information regarding this position, contact Will Cronin at

DEED Awards Low-Income Training Grant

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded Optivation, a joint venture of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, a $164,302 grant under the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) to train 48 lower-income individuals.

The Low Income Worker Training Program grant covers the cost of training ‘training-ready’ individuals with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. The MJSP works strategically with businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities and keep high-quality jobs in the state. With support from Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota legislature, the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program has awarded $37.6 million since 2011 to train 44,086 workers and has leveraged $72.6 million in private funding.  To learn more about this grant, click here. 

Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest
open for 2016 entries through Jan. 31, 2016

The 13th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest is accepting entries online for the 2016 competition until 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. The contest is designed to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-based businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice, high-quality education, management talent and possible sources of capital. It also leads to valuable public and media exposure for the top business plans and helps spur economic growth in the state. Finalists will share in more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. To find out more about the contest, click here. 

Board approves awards to support nearly $12 million in capital investments in Iowa

 The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to three companies for job creation and expansion projects. These awards will assist in the creation of 126 jobs, retention of 88 jobs and will result in nearly $12 million in new capital investment for the state. The board also approved innovation funding for five startups.The board approved assistance for planned or proposed projects located in Davenport, Des Moines, Urbandale, Ames and Dyersville. The Demonstration Fund provides financial and technical assistance to encourage high-technology prototype and concept development activities that have a clear potential to lead to commercially viable products or services within a reasonable period of time. For more information about the award, click here.

New program for Wisconsin public school districts

The Wisconsin public school districts has an exciting new program. The Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Program will provide grants to districts to help them equip fab labs within public schools. Fab labs incorporate technologies such as 3D printing and computer-assisted design to give students hands-on experience, allowing them to put into practice concepts they have learned in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) courses. Fab labs have a twofold benefit: giving students the skills to set them apart in the job market, and helping to ensure that our state’s labor force includes the type of skilled workers employers seek. Grants to help public school districts create or expand these labs will be available in amounts up to $25,000 per district. The funds may be used to purchase equipment used for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior or high school students. Applications for the first grant year are due January 22, 2016.

To learn more about this grant and application details, click here. 

Potential Instructors for Eagle Bluff Skills School

The Eagle Bluff Skills School is currently looking to hire potential instructors. If you are interested or know someone who may be interested in teaching classes relating to beading/jewelry, blacksmithing, book arts, furniture making, clay, cooking, dance, etc. please contact Joe Deden at 

WEDC Global Trade Ventures

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is planning global trade ventures to both of these markets in early 2016. The global trade venture to Mexico will take place Feb. 21-26, 2016, visiting Mexico City and Guadalajara—Mexico's largest cities. The global trade venture to Canada will take place March 13-18, 2016, visiting Toronto, Ontario—Canada’s largest city and provincial economy—and Winnipeg, Manitoba—the capital of a province whose economic strengths are closely aligned with Wisconsin’s, and whose economy is growing rapidly. For both global trade ventures, each participant will receive a country-specific market assessment with details on the broader economy, specific industry characteristics, competitors, regulatory considerations and other critical information needed to prepare a strategy for market entry or expansion. For more details, click here.
Copyright © 2015. 7 Rivers Alliance. All rights reserved.

Mailing address:
601 Seventh Street North
Suite 400
La Crosse, WI 54601

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Phone: 608-787-8777
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