A Word from the CEO

There are too many deserts in the 7 Rivers Region. Not the arid, lack of rainfall desert that commonly comes to mind, but something called a child care desert. And we need to change that climate.


A child care desert is defined as any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots. The Center for American Progress has created a website -- -- that maps child care access across the entire country.


Statewide in Wisconsin, 54 percent of all residents live in a child care desert. In Minnesota, 26 percent live in a child care desert and in Iowa it’s 23 percent. It’s even more of a challenge in rural areas of Wisconsin, where 68 percent of families live in areas without enough licensed child care providers. There are parts of the 7 Rivers Region -- like Jackson County -- where there are 68 children per licensed child care slot. Then there are parts of the region where there are no child care providers.

The shortage of child care was identified as one of the major factors keeping parents out of the workforce or working part-time, as identified in our Workforce Innovation for a Strong Economy (WISE) plan.


The 7 Rivers Alliance is partnering with the La Crosse Area Development Corp., The Parenting Place and other regional organizations for a strategic summit on child care to be held Tuesday, April 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the La Crosse AmericInn, 1835 Rose St., La Crosse.


The factors and the reasons for our region’s lack of child care are many and complex. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a challenge, would it? The number of licensed providers continues to decline, providers are having a hard time filling positions (remember, they are businesses too) and affordability concerns for parents are very real.


Recently our region has had more than its share of challenging weather events -- from bone chilling cold to ice and snow. At no time is the region’s child care crisis more apparent than when school closes early or is closed for the day. The mad scramble of parents having to juggle schedules, leave work early or not being able to come to work causes a very tangle economic impact.


Multifaceted challenges have no single solutions. Our summit will include round table discussions on the various challenges. There are several area groups who have been working to help find possible solutions to the child care crisis. We will bring in some of these groups at the summit to share their findings. There are also different business models -- including cooperative child care centers and business-sponsored initiatives. We will also present the latest results of a La Crosse County child care survey, share other area surveys.


Former Minnesota Congressman Tim Penny, the president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, is scheduled to discuss some collaborative approaches to solving the childcare crisis.


We won’t solve the child care crisis with a single summit. But we hope that you will join us to learn about different ideas and be a part of the discussion to come up with potential solutions.


Tickets are $25 for 7 Rivers Alliance members and $30 for non members. Purchase tickets here!

Chris Hardie, CEO

Upcoming Events
On Tuesday, April 23rd, we will be hosting our first event of the new year, a summit focuses on bridging the childcare gap in our region. The even will feature speakers and round table discussions on what our next steps are to address this challenge. 

Registration is now open and available to everyone. Follow the link below, and reach out with any questions. We can't wait to have you all join us.
Register Here

This spring, enter or expand into global markets with help from UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC) and ExporTech™, a national export assistance program that guides you through every aspect of export growth.

Develop your company’s international growth plan with the confidence of a systematic, customized approach that’s proven effective by coming to these sessions!

March 19 | April 30 | June 4, 2019

Eau Claire, WI

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Download the Flyer Here
2019 Spring Lean Certificate Series

The Lean Certification series comprises a series of workshops that include live simulations with a mentored implementation project at your company. This powerhouse combination provides swift and targeted technical competencies custom-fit to your unique needs.

The cost savings from your first project typically pay back your investment many times over and promote the next continuous improvement activities. The program includes six sessions beginning Wednesday, April 3, 2019 through June 12th, 2019. 

This program is being hosted by University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Professional Education Programs & Services and Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC) and will be held at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Menomonie, WI. 

Click below for more details or contact Heidi Rabeneck at (715)-232-5506 or

Click here to learn more
Inspire Update

The Inspire 7 Rivers team has taken initiative to grow its network of employers and students. Inspire is a way to link together education and industry to help students and job seekers achieve their goals and address communities’ workforce development needs. Inspire 7 Rivers is launched in school districts within Black River Falls, Holmen, Tomah, Hillsboro and Blair-Taylor, and over the next three years, the program will expand to include school districts throughout the entire 7 Rivers Region.

The Inspire program is now up to over 100 employers and 80 coaches that collaborate with over 1,000 active students in the area.

 Our team continues to communicate about the benefits of the program to local organizations. If you or any employer is interested in learning more please email Jeff at
Regional News
Village of Cashton receives $112,500 state grant to support development of new day care facility

 The Village of Cashton is receiving a $112,500 state grant to redevelop a vacant office building into Cashton’s Cradles to Crayons, a new day care facility.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support renovations of a 3,600-square-foot office building including updating plumbing, installing new flooring and equipping the kitchen for food preparation. The project will also include building a 2,000-square-foot addition featuring an open concept classroom.

The Cashton’s Cradles to Crayons day care facility will have capacity to care for 80 children, in age groups ranging from infants to 12-year-olds. The center will be licensed by the State of Wisconsin and will participate in the YoungStar Program, Wisconsin’s child care quality rating and improvement system administered by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

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Unemployment Remains Steady; Four Straight Months at 2.8 Percent

Minnesota’s unemployment rate remains the lowest since May 1999 and is just above the all-time low of 2.5 percent held in January and February 1999.

The state gained 500 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis. November’s previously announced loss of 800 jobs was revised downward to 1,000 jobs lost. Over the year, Minnesota has added 31,441 jobs for a 1.1 percent increase over last December. Private sector gains stand at 28,960 or a 1.2 percent increase. Nationally, the total non-farm and private sector growth rates were 1.8 percent and 2.0 percent respectively.

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27 Iowa Tourism Organizations, individuals Receive Awards at 2019 Conference

 The Iowa Tourism Office and the Travel Federation of Iowa presented 27 awards recognizing excellence in the tourism industry at a ceremony today in Altoona during the 2019 Iowa Tourism Conference.

Awards to both metro and rural areas were made in 13 award categories. In addition, conference attendees voted for the People’s Choice Award; nominees were the second-highest scoring nominations in 12 of the categories.  

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Scott Walker says Foxconn deal will help revive manufacturing in Midwest

When asked by Hoover whether tax incentive deals, such as the one reached with Foxconn, would bring back Midwest manufacturing to its glory days, Walker answered in the affirmative. 

"There's  no doubt about it, as long as we have a workforce that's I think that's the number one challenge," Walker said. "It's something, I tell the president all the time." 

Foxconn Feb. 2 affirmed its plans to build a Generation 6 liquid-crystal-display manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin after company officials had "a personal conversation" with Trump. A so-called Generation 6 factory would manufacture smaller screens for mobile phones, tablets, notebooks and wearable devices. 

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Western Student Project On Display In Capitol Rotunda

Western Technical College is sending students from the Business Management program to the State Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 19 as part of a system-wide showcase of service learning.

Western students Trenton Anderson, Jade Blackburn, Tyler Kenworthy, and Kerrigan Lyga will present on Suits for Success, an event held by instructor Shannon Corcoran’s Professional Profile Development course. Each year, students collaborate with local businesses and non-profit organizations to provide community members and students with professional clothing and job search skills.

 “As we celebrate Career and Technical Education month, it’s important to recognize Western’s service learning opportunities,” said Western President Roger Stanford. “Not only are students learning the technical skills in their field, they are learning about what it means to be a leader in the community.”

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WEDC awards nine grants to support entrepreneurship programs throughout Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced today that nine organizations have been awarded a total of $500,000 in grants to help develop or expand innovative programs aimed at advancing the climate for entrepreneurship throughout the state. Including Westby Couleecap.  

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7 Rivers Alliance · 601 7th Street N #400 · La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601 · USA

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