7 Rivers Alliance - February 2016 e-Newsletter         
View this email in your browser
Dear Community Members,
This week, I had the good fortune to meet with one of the founding board members of the 7 Rivers Alliance. He provided me a stack of information about the start of our organization.  I have enjoyed looking through all of the files and learning about our inception.  This experience reminded me of a quote that a mentor always says to me:  “Honor the past and look to the future.” In this newsletter, we recap our performance for 2015 in our first annual report.  A link to the full report is provided below. 
In 2016, we will focus on programs and services that are true to our formation.  We will convene regional experts and engage leaders in discussions to serve businesses and communities in our 14 county footprint. Starting February 15th, we will be working one day a week in new office space in Winona, Minnesota. This second office will help us to strengthen our relationships in Minnesota. Special thanks to Southeast Minnesota Workforce Board and Minnesota State SE Technical College for providing the office space. On February 24th, we have invited 18 Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Mainstreet Executives to a lunch meeting to explore opportunities for regional collaboration.  On March 1st, we will offer a Creating Community Solar Gardens and Farms event for community administrators and business leaders to learn best practices in solar installations throughout the Upper Midwest. Special thanks to Dairyland Power Cooperative, Excel Energy and Western Technical College for Sponsoring this event.   
We are off to a good start and eager to serve you in the year ahead. 
Lisa Herr
Executive Director

We are pleased to have John Farrell as our Keynote Speaker for the Planning Community Solar Gardens & Farms Event. Farrell is the Director of Democratic Energy at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and widely known as the guru of distributed energy. Farrell is best known for his vivid illustrations of the economic and environmental benefits of local ownership of decentralized renewable energy. He’s the author of Energy Self-Reliant States, a state-by-state atlas of renewable energy potential highlighted in the New York Times, showing that most states don’t need to look outside their borders to meet their electricity needs.  He’s also written extensively on the economic advantages of Democratizing the Electricity System, published a rich interactive map on solar grid parity, and polished the policies (like Minnesota’s solar energy standard) necessary to support locally owned renewable energy development.

With recent federal tax credits extended, this is a must attend event for businesses and municipalities exploring solar alternatives to offset energy costs. 

Other Confirmed Presenters: 
Joe McDonald, CEO,
  Vernon Electric Cooperative, Westby, Wisconsin
Brian Krambeer, CEO,
  Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Rushford, Minnesota
David Donovan, General Manager of Customer and
  Community Relations for Xcel Energy

March 1, 2016 
9 to 12:30 pm
Western Technical College 
Lunda Center
La Crosse, WI 

Click here to register.


The “Hire Them & Keep Them” breakfast was a major success with over 50 attendees representing 18 different companies. Human Resource specialist explored strategies to recruit and retain high skilled workers. To view coverage of the event from WKBT-TV La Crosse and the presentations from the event, click  the links below.

Click here to view coverage of the event from WKBT-TV La Crosse 

Click here to view all the presentations of the event
Click this link to see our year in review!

In 2015, The 7 Rivers Alliance served over 450 people, hosted 8 events, and gained 10 new members and 3 new investors. Thank you to all of our board members, sponsors, and supporters and here's to an even more successful 2016.
Chamber of Commerce Executives are invited to regional meeting to discuss how the 7 Rivers Alliance can be of support.  Mark your calendar and plan to join us on February 24th from 11:30AM to 1:30 PM.  We will be meeting at the Associated Center- La Crosse Chamber of Commerce Building, 601 7th Street North, in the upstairs conference room. 

Please RSVP to Lisa Herr to secure a lunch.
Minnesota Office Hours
Starting the week of February 22nd, we will have weekly office hours in Winona, Minnesota.  Our office space is located in the Workforce Center on the campus of Minnesota State SE Technical College.  Special thanks to Dorothy Duran, Mike Haney, and Gerry Krage for working together to find a space for our operations.  A monthly calendar of our office hours will be posted on our website.

Five steps to successful succession 

Being in the advice business for the last 46 years has made me painfully aware of the many reasons why small to medium sized businesses fail. One reason is that they have neither a succession plan nor a catastrophe plan in place. The former is a well thought out plan to transition the leadership of the business to a well chosen successor over a period of time. The latter is a risk management tool to keep the firm from failing if the CEO becomes incapacitated or worse — dies unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, the consequences of not having either one in place too often proves to be disastrous. In my profession, that of providing financial advice to businesses and professionals, it is estimated that no more than one in five firms have either plan in place. The consequences to all stakeholders, customers, stockholders, families and employees can be horrendous when the head of a firm procrastinates on this vital topic.  

To view the full magazine article,
click here. 

Governor's Export Achievement Awards- Still time to apply!  

The Governor’s Export Achievement Award recognizes companies for their marketplace performance, innovation, and special effort in growing exports, enhancing employment and Wisconsin’s international prestige. 

Previous award winners have benefited from statewide media attention, peer recognition and increased awareness of their business and services.

The deadline has been extended for applying. Interested companies should complete a preliminary
nomination form by 5pm Feb. 5, 2016. Candidates that advance in the competition will be invited to fill out a more detailed entry form at a later time. 

Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Support Training for 560 in Cloquet 

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded a $350,000 grant from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to develop an in-house training system for employees of Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet. The three-year project will support entry-level and advanced training for 560 employees at the paper mill.

Once trained to use the system, employees will have access to the technical information and documents needed to perform their jobs, information that often disappears when experienced, senior-level staff retires. Employees will also complete job task certification training modules needed for career advancement. 

The system will accommodate different learning styles, including written, audio, video and diagrams, and will be accessible via computer stations and handheld tablets. 

To read the full article,
click here.

Board Approves Award to Support Over $254 Million in Capital Investments 

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board today awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to four companies for job creation and expansion projects. These awards will assist in the creation of 241 jobs and will result in over $254 million in new capital investment for the state. The board also approved innovation funding for six startups.
The board approved assistance for planned or proposed projects located in Atlantic, Des Moines, Boone, Council Bluffs, Urbandale, Dubuque and Coralville.

Dubuque-based Atmo, was founded in 2015 by three entrepreneurs with the goal of creating a unique technology platform to change the way people communicate and collaborate through emerging hardware. The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR grant to assist with commercialization validation efforts. These validation efforts include pre-pilot surveys, pilot implementations, additional patent and intellectual property investigation and value proposition discovery in the form of quantifiable return on investment.

To read more about the proposed projects,
click here. 

Copyright © 2015. 7 Rivers Alliance. All rights reserved.

Mailing address:
601 Seventh Street North
Suite 400
La Crosse, WI 54601

Contact Us:
Phone: 608-787-8777
Email: Info

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences