Enjoy your analog summer 

Independence Day means many things to folks. For some it’s a wonderful early-summer holiday with family, a day for picnics or gatherings, camping or to enjoy fireworks in your local community.

For others, it’s a day with deeper meaning as we celebrate the awesome gift of freedom that we enjoy in our country, handed to us by our founding fathers who approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

This year it’s also a celebration of our continued return to our new normal as we move out of the pandemic and back to enjoying life. We appreciate our ability to gather as family and friends and resume the activities that we couldn’t do a year ago.

I recently heard the term analog summer being used to describe our actions. After more than a year where the digital world of computer meetings and video streaming dominated our lives, we’re back to good old-fashioned analog. I like the idea because the sound from those old albums seems deeper and richer.

The Fourth of July had another meaning for me this year. It was one year ago on that date when my father passed away. He collapsed in his chair and went peacefully despite my best attempts at resuscitation.

Dad had been ailing for a couple of years and was sliding down the slippery slope of dementia. I miss him daily, but his passing meant that he was free from that insidious disease that robs people of their memory and dignity. Dad’s worst fear was that he would end up in a facility not knowing anyone. 

I miss him daily for selfish reasons, but he’s in a better place. 

I’ve always felt like the Fourth of July is the halfway point of summer -- even though summer has officially been here only a few weeks. Perhaps that viewpoint goes back to the days when school ended in late May and started up again in late August.

I hope to squeeze in a few days of vacation this summer, but before you know it the fall will be here. Whether you like digital or analog, be sure to enjoy your summer.

Chris Hardie, CEO

LADCO promoting development properties


The La Crosse Area Development Corporation (LADCO) is a not-for-profit entity which has been operating for 49 years as an economic development agency for the greater La Crosse area. One of LADCO’s major roles is to facilitate the promotion real estate solutions within the La Crosse Coulee Region. Below are a few featured properties within the Coulee Region. If you’d like more information, please follow the links or contact Economic Development Coordinator, Sam Bachmeier, at or (715) 563-7100.

River Point District, La Crosse, WI 54601

River Point District is a forward-thinking vision for a vibrant, contemporary, mixed-use waterfront neighborhood where abundant natural surroundings create opportunities for unique community amenities and inspiring development.

Located in the heart of La Crosse – at the confluence of the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse Rivers – River Point District will establish a dynamic, sustainable neighborhood within the area’s overall urban fabric and seamlessly connect the community to the rivers and downtown. More than 800 housing units will offer all people comfortable, accessible homes. River Point District will help strengthen the local economy with dedicated locations for offices, shops and restaurants.

For more information pertaining to developers, businesses, and residential users, please follow the link, River Point District.

 200 Mason Street, 15 & 16, Onalaska, WI 54650

2,280 SF of professional office space for sale. Great location; located within the central business district, less than a mile off Interstate 94, and near multiple modes of public transit. Investment opportunity for owner occupancy plus lease if desired.
Utilities are served by the City of Onalaska, and is zoned for commercial use.  

For more details, please view the Property Listing.

Hawkeye Sites, Holmen, WI 54636

Commercial/Industrial sites ranging from 4.18 acres to 19.92 acres, starting at $2.50/SF. The site is highly visible, located at the HWY 53 and 35 interchange. Across the highway is a large residential development. The developer of this site is to complete streets and utilities and provide a build-ready site. The site is serviced by Xcel Energy and Village of Holmen utilities. The location is 15 minutes from the La Crosse Regional Airport and Downtown La Crosse.  

For more details, please view the Property Listing.

Property Contact: Damon Olson at Coldwell Banker, River Valley Realtors

 Lakeview Business Park – West Salem, WI 54669

The Lakeview Business Park is a unique high-end commercial and industrial development in West Salem, Wisconsin. The park features low utility and tax rates, an attractive, professional design, and comprehensive transportation access, including Interstate Highway and rail service. Also, fiber optic communications and three-phase electric infrastructure are available at this site. In addition, the West Salem area boasts a high quality of life, with short commutes, affordable housing, and abundant recreation.

For more details, please view the Site Details.

Property Contact: Seth Hudson at Cedar Corporation


Win the Web: Free website training offered

The Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse, will be offering FREE small business website training sessions for small business owners & entrepreneurs starting July 7, 2021 and running through May 2022. Advance registration is required. 

 We will be offering six core introductory sessions, three times each in-person at various locations, and once online-only. In-person sessions will be available in each of the nine MRRPC counties: Buffalo, Crawford, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Trempealeau, and Vernon.

  • Websites 101: Five Things You Need to Know About Building a Website

  • Websites 101: Planning Your Website

  • Creating Effective Content for Your Website

  • Introduction to Social Media Marketing

  • Introduction to Search Engine Optimization

  • eCommerce 101: Planning an Online Store

We will also be offering two industry-specific introductory sessions once each online.

  • Best Practices for Service-Industry Websites

  • Best Practices for Food & Hospitality Websites


We will be offering four intermediate topics twice each, online only.

  • Enhancing Your Business Website

  • Advanced Search Engine Optimization

  • ADA Compliance for Websites

  • Cybersecurity


We will also be offering three workshops, online. The workshops are meant to help participants learn how to set up their own website using either the Wix or SquareSpace platforms, or, if they have a WordPress website, to learn tips for managing it.

  • Building a WIX Website (two, two-hour sessions)

  • Building a SquareSpace Website (two, two-hour sessions)

  • Managing Your WordPress Website (one, two-hour session)

Additional Consulting

The in-person sessions will include time for networking and one-on-one consulting with the presenter and with marketing students from UW-La Crosse. This service is provided by the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse.

Dates for the 2021 sessions with additional details and registration information can be found at


Lighting the Way for Rural Prosperity registration link:


Registration open for 2021 WEDA Legislative Day

The Wisconsin Economic Development Association's in-person 2021 Legislative Day will be held on September 15, 2021 in Madison. The FREE one-day event provides WEDA members with a unique opportunity to build relationships with state lawmakers and educate them on critical economic development legislation.

As you know, public policy decisions made at the State Capitol have a significant impact on economic growth across Wisconsin. That’s why it’s increasingly important for economic development professionals to have a strong voice in the legislative process, especially as the state faces a growing labor shortage and workforce housing crisis. 

 Legislative Day will allow participants to network with industry colleagues, hear from key policymakers, and participate in in-depth policy briefings and advocacy training. They will also have a chance to meet with their legislators in the State Capitol to discuss important policy issues that impact Wisconsin economic development professionals and their communities. WEDA would like to thank Baker Tilly, the exclusive 2021 Legislative Day Sponsor.


  • WHEN: Wednesday, September 15, 2021

  • WHERE:  Madison, WI (The Madison Club - 5 E Wilson St, Madison, WI 53703)


    • 10:00 AM - Opening Remarks

    • 10:15 AM - Guest Speakers and Presentations

    • 11:30 AM - Priority Issue Briefs

    • 12:00 PM - Lunch

    • 1:00 PM - Capitol Meetings

      Register here

      WWBIC opens La Crosse office

      Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. held a grand opening open house June 28 in its new Southwest Region office in the former BMO Harris Bank branch office at 3500 State Road 16, in front of Valley View Mall in La Crosse.
       WWBIC supports entrepreneurs with entrepreneurship education, training programs, lending, coaching and financial wellness services. It says it focuses on individuals who face barriers in accessing traditional financing or resources, in particular women, people of color, veterans and low-income individuals.
      The new La Crosse office will serve the organization’s Southwest Region, which includes Crawford, Grant, Juneau, Iowa, La Crosse, Lafayette, Monroe, Richland and Vernon counties. The office is funded with a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information, call the Southwest Region office at 608-668-4400 or visit

      Wisconsin DVR offers business services

      As part of Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), DVR Business Services Consultants meet with local businesses, learn about their specific workforce needs, and provide services designed to meet those needs.

      Services may include connecting qualified DVR talent to a business, providing employee retention services, informing business about financial incentives and other benefits associated with increasing workforce diversity, consultation regarding disability matters that can impact business, and customized services tailored to meet individual business needs.

       Through a wide variety of innovative programs and services, DVR has been very successful in meeting both job seeker and business expectations.

      As Wisconsin's need for talented and skilled employees grows, DVR offers an excellent opportunity for business to connect to individuals who are truly motivated to work and can add value to the business in a variety of ways.

      Businesses that would like more information about DVR's talent and business services are encouraged to contact:

      Amy Studden, Business Services Consultant, at 608-799-6308, or at

      Wisconsin still lags behind in venture capital

      The latest edition of “The Wisconsin Portfolio” shows more than $483 million was raised by the state’s early stage companies in 2020, a record for any calendar year in Wisconsin but still not on par with other Midwest states.

      The report by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its Tech Council Investor Networks showed 110 angel and venture capital deals and four crowdfunded deals, down from 121 total deals in 2019. Average and mean deal sizes grew in terms of dollars invested, which was consistent with national trends and a sign that more young companies are surviving and growing.

      Despite a record year, Wisconsin lagged states such as Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, even after accounting for differences in population. Michigan recorded $3.1 billion in investments, for example, and is now the nation’s fastest-growing venture capital state in percentage terms over the five years beginning in 2016. Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio were each billion-dollar-plus investment hubs in 2020, along with Michigan.

      “Other states are doing more to support their early stage economies through policy initiatives such as ‘funds of funds’ that lever public and private investment,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. A committee of the Wisconsin Legislature recently turned down a proposal for a $100-million state investment in such a fund.

      Over the five-year period beginning in 2016, Wisconsin early stage companies have raised nearly $1.75 billion. There were $276.2 million in early stage investments in 2016, $231 million in 2017, $300.7 million in 2018, $454.4 million in 2019 and $483.7 million in 2020.

      For nearly 60% of early stage companies that secured funding, 2020 was the first year doing so while the remainder received continued support. Wisconsin’s investor tax credits were used more in 2020 than the previous three years. About $16 million in angel and venture tax credits (Qualified New Business Venture) representing nearly $65 million of investments in 77 early stage companies were charted. Other trends of note in 2019:

      • Equity funding (73.7%) continues to be the most popular, followed by debt funding (14.0%).

      • Fewer women-led or women-owned business raised funding in 2020. Just over 12% of companies that raised funding in 2020 were woman-owned or woman-led, down from 22% in the previous year. The national average ranges between 20% and 25%.

      • The two major industries continued to be Healthcare and Information Technology, which combined for nearly two-thirds of all deals and dollars. However, Wisconsin’s tech-sector diversity also showed. Charted deals ranged from advanced manufacturing to digital health, from energy to consumer products, and from ag-tech to medical devices.

      • Investors from outside Wisconsin’s borders continued to play a significant role in funding state companies in 2020. Fifty-five out-of-state investors took part in 31 Wisconsin deals.

      Here is the full report:

      Racism and the Economy: Focus on Criminal Justice

      We invite you to join us on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. CT), for “Racism and the Economy: Focus on Criminal Justice.” This is the next event in our virtual series, which examines the impact of structural racism on our economy and advances ideas to improve economic outcomes for all Americans.

      This event will focus on how racism in the criminal justice system impacts the economy. The criminal justice system has frequently failed to live up to its name, with damaging social and economic consequences. Keynote speakers will examine the origins and contemporary context of the U.S. criminal legal system, followed by thought leaders and practitioners who will discuss strategies to address the system’s disparate impacts on the economic security of indigenous people and communities of color. The session will explore how overrepresentation of people of color and indigenous people in the criminal legal system compromises the performance of the overall economy.


      • Chanda Smith Baker, Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President, Minneapolis Foundation (moderator)

      • Raphael Bostic, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

      • Jennifer Doleac, Associate Professor of Economics, Texas A&M University

      • Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General

      • Yvette Gentry, Director of Justice and Opportunity, Metro United Way

      • Phillip Atiba Goff, Carl I. Hovland Professor of African American Studies and Professor of Psychology, Yale University, and Co-Founder & CEO, Center for Policing Equity

      • Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Professor and Thomas E. Lifka Chair of History, University of California, Los Angeles, and Faculty Director of Million Dollar Hoods

      • Neel Kashkari, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

      • Walter Katz, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures

      • David Muhammad, Executive Director, National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (moderator)

      • Clark Neily, Senior Vice President for Legal Studies, Cato Institute

      • Rachael Rollins, Suffolk County District Attorney

      • Victor Rios, Professor and Associate Dean of Social Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara

      • Eric Rosengren, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

      • Nicholas Turner, President, Vera Institute of Justice

      • Kevin Washburn, Dean, University of Iowa College of Law

      • Andrea Young, Executive Director, ACLU of Georgia


      Register now

      YWCA La Crosse offers racial justice workshops

       YWCA La Crosse is partnering with local, racially diverse educators and advocates to provide Racial Justice workshops that are interactive dives into race, racism, and privilege, with a focus on local experiences and history. 

      The elimination of racism is an on-going process that requires persistence, commitment, and continued dialogue. YWCA La Crosse is committed to supporting individuals and organizations in eliminating racism through interactive learning, personal reflection, cultural humility, constructive dialogue, and meaningful action. 

      The first of the public workshops will be held virtually, over the course of 5 consecutive Wednesday evenings, beginning on July 14th at 5pm. The second series will take place in-person, over the course of three 8-hour days, August 30th through September 1st. Future workshops will be posted on our FB page, as they are scheduled. Workshop fees are $250 per participant. Scholarships are available.  

      To learn more or to register for either of our upcoming sessions, contact our Mission Impact Coordinator at  

      You can also stay up to date on workshops by following us on Facebook at!

      City of Eau Claire contributes to affordable housing 

      Wisconsin Public Radio 

      The city of Eau Claire will contribute an additional $192,000 to an affordable housing project after developers said a spike in construction costs and tight deadlines threatened to derail the new 43-unit apartment building.

      W Capital Group, of Eau Claire, has until July 31 to begin construction on the building, which will include 36 apartments for individuals making between 30 percent and 60 percent of Eau Claire County's median income of $29,023. If work doesn't start by that date, developers could lose more than $483,000 in affordable housing tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Association. 

      Eau Claire City Council Approves Additional Funding To Keep Affordable Housing Development On Track | Wisconsin Public Radio (

      Education Center at Fort McCoy offers career guidance

      88th Readiness Division Public Affairs

      Connie Schauer, left, education services specialist, 88th Readiness Division, speaks with Staff Sergeants Weston Abshire, 230th Sustainment Brigade, Bryntin Butler, Alpha Company, 949th Brigade Support Battalion, and Brandi Jackson, 518th Sustainment Brigade, who stopped by the Fort McCoy Education Center June 7, 2021. The 88th RD provides educational information to Soldiers across the 19 state region. (U.S. Army Reserve Photo by Zachary Mott, 88th Readiness Division Public Affairs)

      Fort McCoy Soldiers and civilians looking to enhance their careers should consider seeking guidance and assistance from the 88th Readiness Division Education Center at Fort McCoy.

      "Our Soldiers and civilian employees should use the Education Center to learn more about their educational benefits. Most have no idea of everything that they are entitled to receive," said Connie Schauer, education services specialist with the Education Center.

      The Education Center serves the wider military community: Soldiers, retirees, spouses, civilian employees, and contractors.

      "We don't turn anyone away," Schauer said.

      The list of services offered by the Education Center is extensive. The education services specialists administer an array of military tests, including the Oral Proficiency Interview, Defense Language Proficiency Test, Defense Language Aptitude Battery, Selection Instrument for Flight Training (SIFT), and the Armed Forces Classification Test.

      ROTC Cadet Morgan Schwittay, soon to be a senior at Ripon College in Ripon, Wis., used the Education Center to take the SIFT because she wants to commission into the aviation branch. She got the contact information for the Education Center from her ROTC battalion and set up a time to take the test.

      "It was super easy to set up the test," Schwittay said.

      Schwittay said she thinks other service members should consider connecting with education services specialists to advance their military and civilian careers.

      "They are super helpful and knowledgeable and super easy to work with. They made the process of taking the test easier," Schwittay said.

      Other services offered include administration of the Test of Adult Basic Education, proctoring college exams, consolidation of college transcripts, assistance with writing papers and developing writing skills, maintaining a library of educational reference and study guides, teaching Basic Skills Education Program classes, and instructing English Language Learners/English as a Second Language classes.

      The education services specialists can also provide help with tuition assistance and credentialing. They can help activate account access for ArmyIgnitED, create Help Desk tickets, escalate issues to Army Continuing Education System, and validate degree plans and course planners.

      The 88th RD Education Center is also a National Testing Center site, administering the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) standardized subject tests and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. Soldiers can get college credits by demonstrating existing knowledge.

      "All Army Personnel Testing and proctoring is free. Soldiers can take the first CLEP and DANTES test free. Retakes of CLEP and DANTES tests are $80," said Schauer. "Spouses and Civilians must pay $80 for CLEP and DANTES tests."

      Although no local colleges currently offer in-person classes at the Education Center, Schauer said that staff members are working with nearby educational institutions for in-person classes.

      Planning is underway for an open house at the Education Center in summer 2021 to showcase services to potential patrons and to thank existing clients.

      The Education Center is located in Building 50, Room 123, and is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. It's also open weekends by appointment. Call 608-388-7311 or 7274 for more information.

      Investing in our region’s smallest communities


      At Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), one of our central tenets is a commitment to the future of rural Minnesota. While we continue to make our programming and resources accessible to communities of all sizes in our 20-county region, we know that many of our smaller towns can benefit from additional financial resources to help them grow and address challenges. Several ways we invest in small towns is through our Community Foundations, our Rural Entrepreneurial Venture program and our Small Town Grant program.

      SMIF currently supports 30 small town community foundations. SMIF acts as the fiscal host for these foundations in addition to providing board education, marketing assistance, planned giving support and matching grants to further their local efforts. These foundations provide direct support for projects and programming important to their community, ranging from tourism amenities and marketing, early childhood projects, community events and much more. In the early days of the pandemic, many of the community foundations quickly mobilized to raise money to address local needs such as food assistance and technology for distance learning. When people invest in these community foundations, they are leaving a legacy for their town’s future. 

      Another program that focuses on small towns is the Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV)program. REV started as a pilot here at SMIF, with the goal of helping small towns develop innovative approaches for long-term economic growth. The first cohort of the REV program, which began in 2018, saw successes in youth retention efforts, tourism campaigns and building more supports for local entrepreneurs. SMIF’s second REV cohort began the program this year and includes the communities of Montgomery, Springfield, Wells and a collaborative of the Maple River School District towns (Mapleton, Amboy, Good Thunder and Minnesota Lake). Coaches from SMIF, Region Nine Development Commission and University of Minnesota Extension are working with each of these communities for a three-year period to provide tools and guidance as they determine how REV can create a pathway for sustainable economic growth in their towns. 

      A third way that SMIF supports small town growth is through the Small Town Grant program, an opportunity that we are currently seeking applications for. Every year we are excited to provide funding of up to $10,000 to communities with populations under 10,000. These grants have funded a wide variety of projects including a trail system, community gardens, the development of a town brand identity and marketing approaches to attract new residents. In St. James, volunteers formed a group called Uniting Cultures/Uniendo Culturas which plans programs and events to bring people together to create a welcoming environment. La Crescent used the grant for a branding and marketing planning process to enhance the town’s image. The City of Preston focused their grant on creating resources to showcase current and future affordable workforce housing initiatives. The beauty of this grant is that it can often be tailored to fit the needs of the community, with the goal of fostering engagement and collaboration.

      Applications for the Small Town Grant program are due on July 15, 2021. Contact Jennifer Heien at or (507) 214-7040 with questions. More details, including guidelines and application, can be found at

      Small towns are the fabric of our region. At SMIF, we are honored to play a part in supporting their growth.

      As always, I welcome your comments and questions. You can reach me at or (507) 455-3215.

      Tim Penny is the President & CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Tim represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982 – 1994.

      NICC partners on $4.68 million workforce training

      Waukon Standard

      A new round of workforce training agreements between businesses and Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) will help employers remain competitive and hire new skilled employees in the next year.

      These agreements, as part of the 260E Iowa Industrial New Jobs Training program, will offset training costs for businesses seeking to upskill their workforce. Training can include hard skills such as welding, industrial maintenance, heavy equipment operation, workplace safety and computer skills, as well as human resources, management and leadership training.

      The 260E program allows NICC and its business partners to enhance the region’s workforce through employee upskilling and education. Businesses also participate in the program to retain employee talent.

      Aveka Nutra Processing, of Waukon, partners with the College for 260E agreements and has applied the State funding toward quality and food safety training, maintenance training for various maintenance functions and subjects, technical training courses for the engineering team and production personnel, as well as leadership, team building and project management courses.

      “In my experience, formal training through Northeast Iowa Community College can motivate a person to keep learning and improving special skills. Specific topics such as food microbiology or spray drying processing is better learned in a formal setting to gain knowledge in specific areas of our business that cannot always be learned on the job. As manufacturing moves to more automated processes and programming, we will also have more training needs in areas of automation and computer skills,” stated Kayce Burris, manager of quality at Aveka Nutra Processing.

      The food processing and nutraceutical products company is one of eight employers to enter into 260E training agreements with NICC for Fiscal Year 2022. The bond sale that will fund the training certificates is valued at $4,685,000 and supports the creation of 379 new jobs in the College’s district area. The NICC Board of Trustees approved the bond issuance at its June 21, 2021 meeting.

      “The 260E program through the State of Iowa creates training opportunities for local businesses of all sizes. This funding support enhances the skills of new employees in nearly every sector of our northeast Iowa economy,” said Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of business and community solutions. “As we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic in Iowa, it is this critical support that will allow businesses to grow and thrive.”

      Since the 260E state legislation was created in 1985, Northeast Iowa Community College has secured and invested $98,245,469 to fund 330 different projects, creating 17,119 new jobs. For more information about the 260E program, visit the Iowa Economic Development website at

      News Center newsletter


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