Rising Stars Under 40 accepting nominations  

It’s a pretty easy job selling the beauty of the 7 Rivers Region. The bluffs, the coulees, the streams, the rivers, the hills -- there are jewels aplenty in the midst of the gem we call home.

But when it comes down to it, the main key to what makes our region successful is not scenic vistas or secluded forests. It comes down to the people -- the men and women who live and work here.

I’m pleased to announce that for the sixth straight year, 7 Rivers Alliance is partnering with River Valley Media Group for our Rising Stars under 40 event. We take nominations from all around the region for outstanding young and women who make a difference in their community.

The winners will be selected and recognized in special coverage in River Valley Media Group publications and with videos online, along with receiving their awards at a reception. Last year the reception was held virtually because of the pandemic but our tentative plans are for an in-person event in October. 

“All of us at River Valley Media Group are proud of our partnership with Chris Hardie and the 7 Rivers Alliance, but only more proud of the terrific young people recognized in our Rising Stars program,” said River Valley Media Group Publisher Sean Burke. “These dedicated and talented young people are making a difference every day and represent a bright future for our communities.”

Our past winners represent the diverse workforce in our region -- teachers, doctors, nurses, business owners, nonprofit leaders, instructors, public service workers and others whose commitment to their work or community service groups sets the bar for engaged citizenry. These are men and women who are committed to making their communities a better place to live and work. They do it without the spotlight nor do they seek recognition -- it’s just part of who they are.

Sometimes people ask why we restrict the nomination to those under 40 when we have older leaders in our region making a difference as well. Because the economic success of our region depends on our future. Our ability to attract young families to our region is critical for our future prosperity. We need more young adults to live and work here and to raise their children here. Showcasing our best and brightest can be a way to attract others. 

Many years ago I was once nominated for a national journalism recognition when I was under 40. My story was published in a national journalism magazine along with 19 others from around the country. I was humbled by the honor and admired the work and effort of my fellow nominees. Their stories made me even more determined to excel as a journalist and community leader.

Rising Stars doesn’t work without nominations. Tell us about your colleague, friend, neighbor or co-worker who is a rising star. You can click on the nomination link below.

The winners will be announced at a later date. Stay tuned for details about the reception.

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.

Coulee Region Business Center – 1100 Kane Street, La Crosse, WI 54603

ENTREPRENEURS WANTED! Welcome to the Coulee Region Business Center, a 35,000 SF start-up incubation facility that provides below-market lease rates and entrepreneurial resources for your start-up businesses. The spaces range from 1,000 SF to 5,000 SF and accommodate a variety of uses, including light manufacturing and retail. Our facility also includes an 1,800 SF commercial kitchen, fully equipped with commercial kitchen appliances and amenities. Learn how you can position your business for success by visiting the Coulee Region Business Center website or contacting CRBC Manager, Sam Bachmeier at or (608) 784-5488.

2700 Midwest Drive, Onalaska, WI 54650

A landmark Class A office building located off I-90 in the Onalaska/La Crosse corridor.

Beautiful setting with a treelined entrance. Grand two-story lobby to greet guests.

Three floors of high-quality office arrangement featuring executive offices and open office areas on all floors. Training & presentation areas as well as sunlit cafeteria and patio.

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


Coulee Region Business Center Open House


Please mark your calendar for the Coulee Region Business Center’s Open House, taking place on Wednesday, September 15th. This event will offer the opportunity to learn more about our region’s tremendous entrepreneurial asset and the 17 start-up businesses that occupy the facility.

Additional information will be forthcoming, please find the attached Save The Date.

 Please register at


Lighting the Way for Rural Prosperity registration link:


Alliance hosts workforce roundtable discussion


The 7 Rivers Alliance, in conjunction with the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation held a meeting Friday, July 23 hosted by Kwik Trip to discuss Gov. Tony Evers intention to invest $130 million in workforce development programs.

See News800 coverage of this event


Alliance CEO Chris Hardie helped convene a group of area business leaders as they provided feedback and comments to secretaries Missy Hughes from WEDC and Amy Pechacek from Division of Workforce Development.

Evers said he is directing $130 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding into solutions to help address the state’s post-pandemic workforce needs. 

 Under Evers’ plan, funds will be invested into Wisconsin’s workforce across three programs. The resources will support both connecting unemployed or underemployed workers with new opportunities while also incentivizing innovative solutions to regional workforce challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The discussion at Friday's meeting included feedback from the businesses on what areas or ideas the training money could be spent on, as each region of the state is expected to receive grant money. Hardie is helping to convene further discussion with area leaders to come up with a grant proposal.

The statewide grants will include: 

  • $100 million Workforce Innovation grant program to encourage regions and communities to develop leading-edge, long-term solutions to the workforce challenges the state faces in the wake of COVID-19;

  • $20 million toward the Worker Advancement Initiative, which will offer subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers to unemployed individuals; and

  • $10 million for a Worker Connection Program which will provide workforce career coaches who will connect with individuals attempting to reengage in the workforce post-pandemic.

WEDC, DWD, and the Department of Administration will combine forces and expertise to administer the Workforce Innovation program, which will offer up to $10 million in grants to at least 10 local and regional collaborations which develop proposals that represent innovative thinking, data-driven planning and leverage existing infrastructures to connect the dots for post-pandemic workforce solutions.

The program will fund initiatives to help businesses find workers and workers connect to better, higher quality and more family-sustaining jobs. Grant funds could be used to meet local workforce needs resulting from or exacerbated by the pandemic, such as childcare, transit, worker attraction and retention, or housing, and may be used to support initiatives like training, planning, marketing, or developing pilot programs that can be applied in other communities. 

Evers also announced $20 million toward the Worker Advancement Initiative, which will offer subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers to those whose previous employment has not come back post-pandemic, as well as those who were not attached to or were not successful in the labor market prior to the pandemic.

The program builds on the success of current transitional jobs programs in the state by launching a new, statewide effort to provide subsidized work opportunities to around 2,000 individuals. DWD will administer the program through local workforce development boards in partnership with community-based organizations. 

The governor will also invest $10 million in a robust Worker Connection Program that will offer individuals who are attempting to reengage in the workforce career coaches who will connect them with the information and support necessary to overcome any barriers that may prevent their full participation in the labor force. The program will also offer individuals local training opportunities that are focused on in demand sector and employer needs. Employers will ensure that the training meets their workforce needs and provide job opportunities to participants. Two regions of the state will be selected for the program.

WHEDA housing grants now open 


MADISON – Developers with innovative affordable housing projects designed to spark community revitalization and promote resident well-being are urged to apply for a new round of federal 9% housing tax credits allocated by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. 

  The application period for this special round of housing tax credits is now open and will run until Sept. 3, 2021. The Innovation Housing Tax Credit application can be found on WHEDA’s website here. A free webinar to highlight the launch of the innovation round and to provide information on the application process will be offered at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 22, 2021. Click here to register. 
“Housing tax credits are a critical tool in financing affordable housing and the launch of the innovation round this year demonstrates WHEDA’s commitment to new approaches,” said WHEDA CEO Joaquín Altoro. “As housing needs continue to evolve, WHEDA is adapting its programs to drive equity and economic opportunity throughout Wisconsin.”

  WHEDA anticipates awarding $1.6 million of federal 9% housing tax credits to two projects, with award requests capped at $800,000. Based on current values, the $800,000 tax credit awards would be expected to generate a total of $14 million in equity for the projects.
Earlier this year, WHEDA announced the award of $35.1 million in federal and state housing tax to advance the creation of 2,200 affordable housing units statewide. A portion of the federal 9% housing tax credits allocated to Wisconsin were reserved to focus on leading-edge projects that center on the health and well-being of residents and the surrounding community.
WHEDA is also announcing its virtual conference on September 1 and 2.

From panels featuring developers and property managers to engagement opportunities with lenders and affordable housing leaders, the two-day virtual event will highlight innovative practices and cutting-edge projects that are advancing equity in housing and economic opportunity.

This year's conference will be an important run-up to WHEDA's 50th anniversary event next year, when we will return fully in person and celebrate in grand style. For now, we are ecstatic with the speakers and content for this year's sessions!

Register for the conference here.

Early bird registration available until August 18th, 2021.

DHS resource launched for COVID-19 vaccines

There’s a new DHS resource to boost vaccine confidence by encouraging people to have conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine with healthcare providers. “Our Doctors” is a multimedia campaign that spotlights health care professionals from different health systems and specialties across Wisconsin who share their confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. This campaign encourages Wisconsinites who may have questions about the vaccines to start a conversation with a health care professional.

You can help encourage these important conversations by sharing any or all of the videos, which are available on the DHS YouTube page. Anyone who may need help finding or choosing a health care provider can visit the DHS Find a Health Care Facility or Care Provider page or call 211.

“Our Doctors” is part of the larger You Stop the Spread campaign, which in recent weeks has focused on COVID-19 vaccine education and the importance of becoming fully vaccinated. “Our Doctors” seeks to spark a conversation between those who may have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and their trusted sources for information.

Tracking vaccinations

You can now access data on COVID-19 vaccinations by geographic boundaries. The new maps allow Wisconsinites to view existing COVID-19 vaccination data by municipalities (cities, towns, and villages), zip code tabulation areas, school district boundaries and census tracts.

COVID-19: Vaccine Data | Wisconsin Department of Health Services

If you have general questions about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health (DHS) website or call 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211. Wisconsinites can also text COVID to 211-211 for county-specific information on COVID-19, vaccination clinics, and other resources.


Southeast Minnesota bus tour scheduled

Join SEMinnTogether us as we visit the communities of Stewartville, Preston, and Chatfield from the comfort of a motorcoach!

Each community will share with us recent successes in the development of affordable housing and share with us their ongoing and pressing needs for workforce housing in Southeast Minnesota.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided by our generous sponsors. There is limited seating on the bus, so register now.


Tentative Agenda

  • 8:00 AM - Bus Pickup in Rochester

  • 8:30 AM - Bus Pickup in Stewartville

  • BUS STOP: The Community of Stewartville

  • BUS STOP: The Community of Preston

  • Lunch at the Branding Iron Restaurant

  • BUS STOP: The Community of Chatfield

  • 3:30 PM - Bus Dropoff in Stewartville

  • 4:00 PM - Bus Dropoff in Rochester

REGISTER AT: https:/

Sparta grant to promote fishing and biking

The Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce has received a Joint Effort Marketing Grant from Travel Wisconsin. The campaign ramps up to the first Trails to Trout Fishing Tournament, a 12 week campaign from July 19th, 2021 through October 10th, 2021.  The campaign will cross promote through multiple platforms, continually directing traffic back to and the Facebook event page that will offer visitors all the information they may need to participate in the Tournament or plan a trip to the area, including lodging, dining, and other activities within the Sparta area.

The catch, photo, and release, Trails to Trout Fishing Tournament is a 9 day fishing (two weekend) event that promotes the biking and trout fishing activities available in Sparta, Wisconsin encouraging bicycling to and fishing in area streams. The event celebrates the fall spawning season of trout and the last chance to get out to the cold water streams found throughout Wisconsin’s bicycling capital, Sparta, home of the first Rails to Trails project. The event would aim to increase visitation by the target audience of experiential travelers, bicyclists, fishermen, and families who enjoy both fishing and bicycling activities.

“The funding from Travel Wisconsin’s JEM program is vital in maintaining a spotlight on the Sparta area, including its trout fishing streams, the Trails to Trout Fishing Tournament will showcase our natural resources while revisiting one of our most showcased activities, biking while pairing it with fishing" stated Heidi Prestwood Executive Director of the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce.

Visitors may download and sign up for the FishDonkey app and make plans to visit Sparta, WI to fish October 2nd through October 10th, 2021 for a chance to win a Wyatt Maverick Bicycle retrofitted specifically for those who wish to explore bike fishing (value $3,000), this an all-terrain fat bike was designed and manufactured in Bangor, WI providing an unrivaled ride comfort and handling via its unique frame design, oversized tires, hydraulic brakes, and front inverted suspension. Winner announced October 12, 2021.


YWCA La Crosse offers racial justice workshops

 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.
Register NOW for our second summer session, beginning Monday, August 30th! This in-person workshop will take place 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. Click here to register: For more information contact our Mission Impact Coordinator at
You can also stay up to date on workshops by following us on Facebook at!

Federal Reserve to release latest survey 

The Minneapolis Federal Reserve will present the result of the latest regional business survey on Aug. 24 with a virtual presentation at 9 a.m.

Our Regional Outreach team surveyed businesses across the Ninth District to gauge recent economic activity and the near-term outlook of firms in different sectors. Join Ron Wirtz, Regional Outreach director, for a live webinar discussing the results from a late July survey of firms and to learn how businesses are faring during the recovery.

Register for the presentation here.


Engage Winona leadership program offered

 Is there a part of your story or background that’s unique — and may also have led to difficult experiences that have shown you a need for local change?

At Engage Winona, we’re thrilled to announce that our Lived Experience Leaders program is launching for a second season. We encourage Winona community members with diverse lived experiences to consider applying. Applications are accepted through Aug. 16.

The Lived Experience Leaders program is designed to deepen and diversify Winona’s pool of community leaders. It provides training, resources and support to folks across Winona who may not traditionally be considered or given opportunities for community leadership roles, and whose diverse lived experiences have given them powerful expertise to create change for Winona to be more welcoming and inclusive.

The cohort participates in 25-30 hours of immersive gatherings and workshops over 3-4 months, starting this fall. Along the way, each member creates a plan for their community change project or idea (something they’re working on and want to grow, or something new), and is supported with guidance, mentorship, materials, small financial support and connections, while continuing monthly group gatherings and check-ins.

Participants will be paid a stipend and provided financial and other resources to participate in the program and then create a community change project between fall 2021 and spring 2022.

For more information and to apply, visit The priority deadline is Aug. 16, but we will welcome folks after that date, depending on capacity. If an online application is a challenge, no problem — give us a call at 507-312-9133.

We look forward to your stories and providing you with support and resources to create change!

Labor availability will continue to be a challenge

By Matt Kures

As the economy continues its recovery, many employers cite challenges with finding the workers they need. While factors attributed to the pandemic certainly impact labor availability, we should also recognize shifts in the number of working-age residents that started well before 2020. Individuals between the ages of 15 and 64 are counted as the working-age population while residents ages 25 to 54 are of prime working age.

As the state’s population has aged over the past decade, the total working-age population declined by -46,000 (-1.2%) between 2010 and 2019, and the prime working-age population dropped by over -150,000 (-6.5%).

In contrast, the number of residents age 65 and over increased by approximately 240,000 (31%). When considering labor participation rates of 78% for the total working-age population and 86% for prime working-age residents, compared to a participation rate of 20% for individuals age 65 and over, we should not be surprised that workers are more difficult to find.

These population shifts have not been the same across all Wisconsin counties, but are widespread nonetheless.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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601 N. 7th St., La Crosse, WI 54601

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