APRIL 2017

Dear Community Members,

March was a planning month at The 7 Rivers Alliance.  We finished the USDA Strengthening Economies Together (SET)  Economic Development Plan for Juneau, Monroe and Jackson Counties in Wisconsin.  A link to the full report is provided below. Over 150 business and community leaders were engaged in developing the SET plan. Special thanks to Greg Wise and Matt Kures at UW Extension for the extensive data collection and facilitation of our planning process. 

We also held regional meetings and student and employee focus groups for the WISE Plan.  In February and March 2017, we engaged over 365 participants in the WISE project.  Next, we will showcase workforce development best practices that have been identified in our recent planning meetings and summits at the 2017 Workforce Summit.  On May 31st, we will begin to prioritize the scope of work and set operational goals that will be the basis for the completed plan. Mark your calendar and plan to join us for this event. 

Finally, we have begun to plan for the future of the Alliance with the creation of The 7 Rivers Alliance Foundation.  Read on to learn about the new officers and Board of Directors for our Foundation.

There are a lot of good things happening in the 7 Rivers Region and we are excited to share details and news with you.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Lisa Herr



The WISE Project is in full swing and The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) team has now made three visits to our region to meet with business leaders and hold focus groups.

March 7-9, 2017: We held three planning sessions with the consultants and workgroups on talent preparation, recruitment and retention. Over 34 companies were represented, with 56 people participating. A total of 17 students attended two UW-L focus groups, and 19 employees participated in two employee focus groups in Decorah, Iowa and Necedah, Wisconsin.

March 21-23, 2017: We held three work sessions with the consultants and workgroups to address the barriers of housing, childcare and transportation. We conducted three high school focus groups -- one in Onalaska, WI and two in La Crosse, WI -- and two college student focus groups at Minnesota State College Southeast in Winona, Minnesota and Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Iowa. We also held a focus group with Career Center Specialists at Western Technical College in La Crosse, WI, and two employee focus groups at Altra Federal Credit Union and Dynamic Recycling in Onalaska, WI. 

Next, we are planning for the 2017 Workforce Summit to showcase best practices that have been identified. See below for more details and to register. Special thanks to our sponsors: Express Personnel, Manpower, ABR Employment Services and PeopleFirst HR Solutions.
Join us on May 31st for the 2017 Workforce Summit! This event  will be covering the topics of talent preparation strategies, talent recruitment strategies, talent retention strategies, and best practices for addressing barriers for workers. To view the agenda for the day CLICK HERE. To Register for this event, click on the button below. 
Register Now
The 7 Rivers Alliance released a new strategic economic development plan for Jackson, Monroe and Juneau Counties that is the result of extensive data collection and analysis from September 2016 through March 2017. During the past six months, planning sessions were held with over 150 business and community leaders.Thank you to the USDA, UW-Extension, the WEDC, the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission, county economic development directors and all other participants who contributed to this project! Click on the link below to view the report.
The 7 Rivers Alliance has formed a 501(c)3 Foundation to provide educational resources for leaders in the region. At the March 10th founding meeting of the Board of Directors, the following officers were elected: President, James Hanke, Vice President, Stacia King, and Secretary/Treasurer, Mike Kroening. Lisa Herr, CEO of the Alliance, will also serve as the Administrator for the new foundation.
President, James Hanke, Business Development Manager, Market & Johnson 
Vice President, Stacia King, Regional Advertising Director, River Valley Media Group 
Secretary/Treasurer, Mike Kroening, Vice President, Minnesota State College Southeast 

Merchants Financial Group (MFGI) is the parent company for Merchants Bank and Merchants Bank Equipment Finance . MFGI is among the largest independent financial organizations in our region. They are proud to be locally owned by thier employees through their Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) and approximately 760 individuals and families mostly from communities in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Their local leadership structure encourages decisions based on community needs and the local economy.  By design, each community they serve has its own Bank President. They also rely on local advisory boards to provide meaningful feedback and strategic direction. Their advisory boards are local leaders, representing many areas including local business, education and agriculture industries.They are excited to be a part of The 7 Rivers Alliance and continue to grow with their local communities! 

Passe Law, LLC
Attorney Nick Passe, Attorney and sole member of Passe Law Office, has been serving the people and organizations of southwest Wisconsin since 2006.  He has been repeatedly recognized by other attorneys and judges for his ethics, professionalism and legal skills. Nick began practicing law in Chaseburg, Wisconsin in October 2006 and was hired by Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. in April 2007.  After 8 1/2 years there practicing in State, Municipal and Appellate Courts, Nick started the Passe Law Office with the goal of providing great legal services to all clients. Nick also has a passion for his community and gives back by being a member of La Crosse Downtown Rotary, a part of La Crosse Area Young Lawyers Association, President Elect of the La Crosse County Bar Association, and now a member of The 7 Rivers Alliance. We are excited to welcome you to our organization!
Image result for the gazette iowa ideas
From planes and trains to automobiles, Iowa’s transportation infrastructure is the key to getting people and products to their destinations. It drives the economy, serves tourists and provides every Iowan a means to get from point A to point B. But Iowa’s infrastructure also faces challenges,including an aging road system and deficient bridge network. In a time where freight transportation continues to climb, the state’s network of highways, railways and runways will only become more crucial. Click on the link to read more and learn about their upcoming symposiums. 

Budget 2017 comes at a time of tremendous change and opportunity.

Around the world, people are embracing innovation and the opportunities it brings—opportunities to rethink everything from how we manage the demands of our daily lives, to how we build our cities and grow our economy.

To lead the world in innovation, we need to equip Canada’s workers with the tools they’ll need to succeed in the new economy. In Budget 2017, Canada introduces its Innovation and Skills Plan: a plan that focuses on people and addresses the changing nature of the economy to ensure it works for all Canadians. Click on the Link below to read more.


Who is the Future of Rural Wisconsin? Wisconsin Rural Partners presents the Wisconsin Rural Summit On April 19th-20th.Learn about Population Trends, Rural Young Professionals, Small Town Place Making, Developing the Next Generation of Rural Leaders, and Rural Entrepreneurship. To view the agenda or to register for this, event click on the link below!

Job Opening for CEO, Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for leading the Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) to successfully achieve its mission to promote and foster a healthy economy and quality lifestyle for members and the community. 
The CEO will maintain and grow the membership of the Chamber as well as represent the Chamber at various functions throughout the year.  They will organize and/or lead various fund raising events and activities with successful outcomes.  They will work with members and potential members to better understand how the Chamber can best serve them through its mission and clearly define the Chamber’s successes and challenges to the Board. Learn more about this position by clicking on the link below! 


Innovation districts aren't just for millennials 

Innovation districts like Silicon Valley and Seattle are often characterized by their millennial appeal, but a narrow focus on this demographic overlooks the significant economic and entrepreneurial contributions of older adults. To read the full article click on the link below. 
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Tune in for a great episode on Wisconsin Public Television's "What's Foodie" on April 13th at 7:30 pm. This show is an Emmy award-winning independent television series dedicated to discovering the stories behind the food we eat. This episode will visit three innovative Viroqua businesses serving up maple syrup, soda and lattes. Click on the link below to view the schedule. 

The Economic Forum "Redrawing Legislative Districts: What Should Wisconsin do in Light of Court Order?"

Recently, a federal court ruled Wisconsin must redraw its legislative boundaries by Nov. 1, 2017. How Wisconsin will approach this redistricting is of major convern to public officials, community members, and business leaders alike. Some suggest a new model for drawing up the boundaries, one akin to the Iowa Model. This model uses a three judge panel to draw the boundary lines and not the legislature. Others believe it is the constitutional duty for the legislature and should not be revoked. Learn about this and more by attending the Economic Forum on April 19, 2017 at 7:00 am at the Radisson Hotel Ballroom. If you have any further questions or would like to register: email or call 608-784-5488.


How I Discovered That Relationships Are Key to a Successful Parklet
Since 2010, over 180 parklets have appeared nationwide. Pretty much wherever they pop up, people love these small platforms that take up one or two parking spaces, and provide space for people to park their keesters instead of their cars. Beloved they are, but easy they aren’t. It takes time, money and effort to keep parklets clean and inviting — and in many urban neighborhoods, all three of these resources are in tight supply. Read more by clicking on the link below!
Protecting Against IP Theft Online

For insight into the types of digital threats business owners and designers face, what exactly can be done to strengthen digital IP protections and how to mitigate the damage from successful breaches, Minnesota Business turned to Shane Vinup, co-founder of Maple Grove-based Cyber Advisors; and Mike Canavan, a cybersecurity expert at Kaspersky Lab (a Cyber Advisors partner). Lean what they have to say about online IP Theft by clicking on the link below. 
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