Dear Investors and Members: 

Happy New Year!  This is the time of year when we reflect on past accomplishments and set new goals for the next several years.  Future planning will be a major theme for the Alliance this year.  Over the next two months, the Board of Directors will finalize a three-year vision that we are calling “The 2020 Plan”.  This plan will focus on how we tailor our operations and increase the economic vitality of businesses and communities in the region. More details will be shared in the coming months.

We are also launching the work of the WISE Plan and will announce the selected consultant in the next two weeks.  Finally, we are kicking off INSPIRE, an online career planning tool that connects students and job seekers with employers.  This month, we will begin the pilot in Jackson County, and in partnership with the Western Wisconsin Workforce Board, TUMMA and the WEDC, expand the program throughout the region.

Finally, we have added staff to support our growing operations.  Profiles of our new team members are included in this newsletter.

It is an exciting time in the 7 Rivers Region and we look forward to serving you in the year ahead.

Lisa Herr


Planning for the Future 

On December 21, 2016 The Board of Directors had a successful afternoon of planning for the future of The 7 Rivers Alliance.  They are currently working on a 3-5 year plan that focuses on strengthening the 7 Rivers Region as a whole, creating new coalitions between our organization and other companies in our community, and growing the projects we have begun.  The completed plan will be shared in February 2017.  A special thank you to Professor John Kovari from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse who facilitated the meeting.  
Welcome New Members
FCED is a nonprofit development company focused on business and community development within Fayette County, Iowa. They provide technical assistance to both new and existing businesses, and promote better placemaking within their communities. They focus on creating and strengthening regional partnerships between area businesses as well as forging new opportunities for communities to bring employment to Northeast Iowa. Joining The 7 Rivers Alliance will provide regional awareness and help improve the visibility of Fayette County. They aspire to gain access to more partnership opportunities, and also hope to bring opportunities to offer to other members of The 7 Rivers Alliance as well. Welcome Fayette County! 

F&M Bank is a full service financial institution that has been serving Tomah and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Their goal is to help individuals and businesses make money, save money, and save time by improving banking efficiencies. They take pride in providing their customers with trustworthy, friendly, and expert service. F&M is a proud supporter of many local charities and organizations and is passionate about seeing our communities thrive and grow.  At F&M Bank, they believe an important part of their mission is to give back and help make the world a better place. They are excited to be part of the 7 Rivers Alliance and look forward to serving our communities in 2017 and beyond. Welcome F&M Bank! 

Meet the Team! 

Chin-Chin Minniear, Manager of Strategic Initiatives 
Chin-Chin is a wonderful addition to The 7 Rivers Alliance with her rich background in Public Policy.  In the past she has held the position of Program Examiner in the Health Division of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Executive Office to the President, Subcommittee Staff Director for the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, and Director or Public Policy and Advocacy for Mental Health America.  Chin-Chin will be focusing on our new WISE Project and continuing to promote community development in the 7 Rivers Region.

Mackenzie Erickson, Graphic Design Intern
Mackenzie is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, pursuing a degree in Marketing. She is a full-time student who is the Creative Director of the Creative Imperatives event at UW-L and has also done free lance graphic designing, sales, and marketing for the past two years.  

Aaron Reimler, Public Policy and Government Relations Intern
Aaron is a Senior at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, seeking a double major in Public Administration and Political Science. For the past 4 years he has held a managing position at various organizations and has also help develop the Planning Department and Heritage Preservation website                              redesign and redevelopment at the City of La Crosse. 
New Career Planning Tool!
The 7 Rivers Alliance, in partnership with the WEDC, Western Wisconsin Workforce Board, TUMMA and CESA #4, will launch an online career planning tool as a pilot for students in Jackson County.  In 2018, this tool will be available to all school districts in the 7 Rivers Region

The 7 Rivers Alliance is beyond excited to begin implementing Inspire Wisconsin, an online application supporting students and guiding them into the first steps of their professional career. Inspire Wisconsin’s mission is to develop and disseminate an organized, integrated community-development platform for life-long career planning and learning which creates bridges between employers, educators and students and connects students and adult job seekers with work-based learning experiences and job opportunities.

In Wisconsin there are nearly 300 middle and high school locations using the Inspire Wisconsin program which reaches over 120,000 users.  The 7 Rivers Alliance will begin by implementing this program in Jackson County and then will expand these services into Iowa and Minnesota.  You and your organization can make a lasting impact on students and career seekers trying to discover their future career path!

To learn more CLICK HERE

On December 1st, The 7 Rivers Alliance sent a request for proposals to 12 consulting firms requesting proposals for helping us with creating a 10-year workforce recruiting and retention plan for the region.  A screening committee carefully reviewed the proposals and interviews and reference checks were held with the top candidates. 

We are pleased to announce we are down to a finalist and have begun the process of negotiating a contract. 

On January 30th.  The Steering Committee will meet virtually with the consultants to plan the project implementation. 


Help us to identify our best assets in workforce development

One of the goals of the WISE Plan is to identify and highlight best practices in workforce preparation, recruitment and retention as well as housing, childcare and transportation We need your help with identifying programs and/ or companies to showcase at the 2017 Workforce Summit on April 28th in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Best practices, that are selected for the Workforce Summit, will considered for the final WISE report that will be shared across the country. Please forward your recommendations to  We will share the list of nominations at the January 30th meeting.

Get Ready for SET and, Go! 
Join us for a Regional Planning Meeting featuring a SET Program on February 1, 2017 in Tomah, WI. The SET project is moving forward and the next meeting will be focused on industry clusters selected during the previous session.  We will explore and identify potential strategies in order to build upon economic strengths. Registration is free!
                                                                    CLICK HERE to register now!  
Congratulations 7 Rivers Alliance
Past President- Lee Rasch 

Lee Rasch may be the last to admit it, but he has become one of La Crosse’s go-to leaders.

Rasch came to the city in 1989 to become president of Western Technical College. He thought he’d hold the job for a few years before moving on.

Instead, he has spent nearly three decades leading efforts to strengthen the college, its reputation and the downtown where the main campus is located, including a recently completed $80 million project to modernize the college’s facilities and programming.

Read Article Here

Register for February 14th  ECO DEVO

This meeting will focus on new economic strategies in the region. The meeting will take place at the Tandeski Center in Minnesota Technical College in Winona, MN from 10:00am to 12:00. To RSVP for this meeting please click on the button below! 
Click Here to RSVP for ECO DEVO
You Won't Want to Miss! 

Register now for the 11th Annual Local Food Summit in La Crosse January 12 and January 13 with Pre-Summit Vernon County / Viroqua Tour starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11.

Breakout sessions will be of interest to local food minded people regardless of whether or not it is part of your profession or because it is your interest or passion! Click on the button below to learn more about the event what registration includes. 

Click Here to Register!
Opportunities for Wisconsin Companies 

Entrepreneurship & Innovation News

Since its inception in 2011, healthfinch has been making waves in the health care industry. The Madison-based startup is pioneering software that takes repeatable tasks off health care providers’ hands so they can spend more time on direct patient care. Learn more about healthfinch and the Governor’s Business Plan Contest on the Launch In Wisconsin blog.

International Opportunities
South Korea’s economy is growing steadily and is currently ranked as the thirteenth-largest economy in the world, and. the country’s consumers are showing an increasing demand in many of Wisconsin’s strongest industries including, dairy products, clean energy and medical device manufacturing. To learn more CLICK HERE. 

Introducing Director of
Grow North
Minnesota Business magazine has dedicated an entire issue to women leaders. They're an incredibly fortunate business community because they have numerous women to feature and likely not enough space in one issue to capture all of these talented people (a good problem to have). One great woman that the magazine would like to introduce you to is Lauren Mehler Pradhan, the new director for Grow North. To learn more about Lauren CLICK HERE. 
Job Opportunity 

Trempealeau County has recently established a new position, Parks, Tourism and Economic Development Coordinator. We are looking for a driven individual with a Bachelor’s Degree and 3-5 years’ experience in a similar or related field.To learn more about this position, click on the button below.  
Learn More!
 Effigy Mounds National Monument

Collectors will get their first in-person look at the 2017 Effigy Mounds National Monument quarter dollar during the coin’s official U.S. Mint launch ceremony in February in Iowa.

The ceremony, to include remarks from Philadelphia Mint Plant Manager J. Marc Landry and local representatives, will be followed by a coin exchange. To learn more about the ceremony CLICK HERE!

Firms find that supporting work/life balance strengthens retention, recruitment efforts

More and more employers are making the business case for family-friendly workplace policies. Several top-performing companies already offer six weeks or more of paid leave as they try to retain parents. Led by technology and financial companies jockeying for talent, many have a more flexible workplace and more help with finding child care than a decade ago. Now many firms are going even further — all in an attempt to make 30- and 40-somethings happy. 

                                     READ HERE

Economic Development Board approves awards to support over $28 million in capital investments in Iowa
December 16, 2016 (DES MOINES, IA) – 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 89 jobs and will result in over $28 million in new capital investment for the state.
Career Fair is on Feb. 15th  and space is limited. To insure a spot please register by February 1st. 

REGISTER NOWLEARN MORE* How the Virtual Fair Works – Attend a Free Webinar, Fill your Full-time, Internship, & Co-op positions. Recruit Students & Alumni - All Majors Invited.
Wisconsin companies invited to explore international business growth in Canada
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is leading a global trade venture to Canada from April 30 to May 5, 2017, with stops in Toronto and Montreal.
Red Cedar Watershed Conference
Are you interested in joining fellow citizens in the Red Cedar area to develop a vision and action plan to restore and maintain a healthy water system for our future? The Red Cedar: Land, Water and People Coming Together event is an opportunity to bring best practices and innovative ideas to the forefront.The program will provide a forum for farmers, resource managers, businesses, organizations, educators and concerned citizens from throughout the area.
NICC is bringing the Hawkeye Construction Equipment Simulator to the Decorah area on January 17
Experience hands-on what it feels like to operate an excavator, a forklift and other pieces of construction equipment, during this unique, no-cost simulation opportunity. Learn about careers in building, road and commercial construction and the short-term certificate training available to prepare you for employment.  It's from 3-6 p.m. at J.B. Holland Constuction Parking lot.  Any questions call Kyra Bellrichard at 800.728.2256, ext. 399. 
The 14th annual Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest is accepting entries online for the 2017 competition until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. 

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 and mentoring, management talent and possible sources of capital. Follow the link to enter, become a judge or learn about sponsorship opportunities.

                           REGISTER HERE 

Winona IT company expands to metro
A 15-year-old IT consulting and custom software development company based in Winona is expanding its operations to a second base of operations in the Twin Cities.
“We have been onboarding many new clients in the metro, so it makes sense to have a local presence here now,” he adds. “We see a tremendous amount of opportunity for growth in the tech sector.”
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