Regional grant shows promise

I'm no stranger to deadlines and sometimes need them in order to push myself to complete time-sensitive tasks.
It's a reflection of the many years I spent in the news business where I faced deadlines every day. Sometimes it's that burst of last-minute energy that carries over for a few days before you hit the wall! 
A recent deadline that came was the date to apply for a U.S. Economic Development Administration Build Back Better grant. I was looking at this grant when the guidelines came out in July and thought about our region's food network, how we could grow it and how we could find local solutions to some of the food supply issues that arose during the pandemic. We have people who can grow the food, what are the issues that are preventing that food from getting to market?
I am a relative newcomer to the world of economic development but I have been assured by my veteran colleagues that we have never seen more grant funding opportunities. From both the federal and state level, there are many grants that are designed to help our economy recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
Knowing that my idea was bigger than just the 7 Rivers Region, I reached out to some colleagues in southwest Wisconsin. They got back to me and the wheel was set in motion.
We are creating the DINER: Driftless incubator Network & Enterprise Region. It is a series of networked food innovation hubs -- including proposed locations in Vernon County, La Crosse and Decorah, IA that would co-locate food incubation services with a space that has a commercial kitchen or cold storage, growing or co-packing capabilities, etc., along with workforce training centers, childcare facilities, and the IDEA hub to spur ag tech development.
The idea is to increase an existing cluster that will transform regional economies through a collection of complementary, aligned construction and non-construction projects organized under a singular vision and designed to grow new industries and scale existing ones.
I cannot compliment my regional partners enough for helping build out this idea -- especially Ela Kakde, executive director of the Platteville Area Industrial Development Corp. and Troy Maggied, executive director of the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission -- who took the lead on applying for the grant.
Locally we had others step up, including Sue Noble from the Vernon Economic Development Association, Christina Dollhausen from the Vernon County Economic Development and Tourism, Tim Kabat and Sam Bachmeier from the La Crosse Area Development Corp., Julie Emslie from the city of La Crosse, Dave Bonifas from the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission, Stephanie Fromm of the Winneshiek County Economic Development and Tourism and Josh Dansdill from Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development, Inc.
There are many other partners in this proposal, which also includes parts of northwestern Illinois. Its scope and level of collaboration is incredible. 
This will be a very competitive grant. The EDA announced last week that 529 regions from all 50 states and five territories have submitted applications for Phase 1 of the $1 billion grant.
The first phase is to fund $500,000 in technical assistance and develop a Phase 2 application towards a $25 million to $75 million grant award. Fifty to 60 projects will be selected to apply for Phase 2 funding.
Even if we don't get this grant, the networking and collaboration that came out of this application will continue. I am very confident that we have laid the groundwork for some exciting developments in the future. 
The 7 Rivers Alliance was founded on the concept that regional collaboration is a key for economic growth and success. It was very rewarding to work through long days and nights to get this project submitted.
Fingers crossed! 

Chris Hardie, CEO

Rising Stars Under 40 announced

The 7 Rivers Alliance and the River Valley Media Group announced the 23 winners of our annual Rising Stars Under 40 event on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Profiles of the winners were featured in print and online coverage in the La Crosse Tribune and River Valley Media Group publications. You can also view bios and photos on the 7 Rivers website.

Nothing makes the 7 Rivers Region successful without its incredible people. These are men and women in our region whose endeavors enrich our lives and raise the bar for all of us. 

Please join us in congratulating and thanking the Rising Stars of 2021.

Register for State of the Region event Nov. 17



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.

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.

119 & 127 Sand Lake Road, Onalaska

3,800 – 7,000 SF of commercial space for lease. Center 90 shopping mall has gone through a major remodel, with a completely new front, large office space and showroom area.
Located just minutes from Downtown Onalaska and US HWY 53, this space has a ton of potential!
For more details, please contact Chuck Olson at Coldwell Banker River Valley Realtors.  

Bluffview Business Park, Holmen

Commercial/Industrial sites ranging from 2 acres to 80+ 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 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 contact: Chuck Olson at Coldwell Banker River Valley Realtors. 

Lakeview Business Park – West Salem

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


 Business website training offered 

The Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission (MRRPC) and the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse are pleased to present a series of FREE training sessions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Register here

Expanded Wisconsin Fast Forward grants 

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) - Office of Skills Development (OSD) has released a new Technical Education Equipment Grant Program Announcement (GPA). Under the Expanded Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) program, up to $1 million in grant funds is available to Wisconsin school districts to train students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

The purpose of the grant is to reimburse school districts for the purchase and installation costs of technical education equipment used in vocational training and technical education in advanced manufacturing fields, including costs for equipment operation software and instructional materials to train students.

Applications are due by 3 p.m. CST on Monday, December 6, 2021. For additional information, or to download an application, please consult the Grant Program Announcement and related grant program materials at

If you have questions regarding this announcement, contact Tracy La Haise, Program and Policy Analyst at the WFF program. Tracy is at 608-733-3896 or


Racism and the Economy: Financial Services

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. CT

Virtual video event

Join us for “Racism and the Economy: Focus on Financial Services.” 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.
To learn more about this event or to register, go here

What's the next phase of remote work?

As jarring as the transition to remote work was during the coronavirus pandemic, it was modest compared to what’s coming next, says Adam Ozimek, a labor economist at the freelancing platform Upwork. He argues that the next phase of remote work will transform economies, as more companies revise their policies to accommodate employees who have permanently shifted to working remotely, and more workers move to places they’ve always wanted to live but couldn’t.

The next wave of remote jobs will transform the economy — Quartz (

Candidate development forum Nov. 16

Have you thought about running for an elected office? School board? city council? other? Would you like to learn more about how to run on an ethical leadership platform? If so, then this is one program you do not want to miss!

Register here!  

PSC announces broadband grants

On Thursday, October 14, 2021, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin announced the recipients of the ARPA Broadband Access Grants through funding made available by Governor Evers in May 2021. The Commission awarded $99,932,502 for 83 projects that will expand fiber broadband internet to more than 28,426 residential and 1,490 business locations that are currently unserved and underserved. The projects receiving awards are located in 40 counties and 3 Tribal lands. The grant awardees will provide matching funds of $101,942,388. The grants are expected to connect nearly 30,000 locations with new fiber broadband service.

Earlier this year, Governor Evers declared 2021 as ‘The Year of Broadband Access,’ and allocated $129 million in state funding over the next two years for the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. "The lack of broadband access in our state makes essential services and resources out of reach for many Wisconsinites, which made the pandemic nearly unmanageable,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “I am grateful Governor Evers continues to provide state and federal resources for broadband access. These projects put Wisconsin one step closer towards closing the digital divide.” 

Wisconsin Broadband Summit Nov. 16

Access to broadband is critical for Wisconsin communities in the 21st century - connected to better business performance, entrepreneurship, higher home values, better educational outcomes, improved health outcomes, and higher worker productivity. Despite these benefits, access to high-quality broadband is limited in many communities throughout Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Broadband Summit is organized to help Wisconsin communities enhance broadband access by:
  • understanding the importance of broadband to economic development
  • exploring models for active networking and leadership development
  • accessing and applying mapping, data, and survey research techniques, and
  • learning about available funding options.
Join us for a Virtual Wisconsin Broadband Summit as we explore how communities can increase broadband access and move closer towards digital equity.

Register at

Wisconsin population half of national average

Wisconsin’s population increased by 3.6% between 2010 and 2020, compared to a national growth rate of 7.4%. Twenty-one counties lost population during this period, with Richland County having the greatest percentage decline of -4.0% and Milwaukee County showing the greatest overall loss of more than 8,000 residents. Of the 51 Wisconsin counties that gained population, growth rates varied between less than 1.0% in nine counties and over 7.0% in 10 counties.
Learn More

CEDA to hold entrepreneur loan program

Join the CEDA team as we discuss the partnership between our organization and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to provide funding to businesses through the Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program. The virtual information session will take place on November 9th at 10am.
We will discuss how this program will support the growth of businesses owned and operated by minorities, low-income persons, women, veterans and/or persons with disabilities. We will provide information on eligibility, terms and interest, and how to apply for the loan program.
Register for free HERE


Supporting child care businesses

In a joint effort among the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA), the nine Wisconsin Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Agencies, and Extension, the Wisconsin Child Care Business Initiative successfully delivered a program aimed at improving or grow existing child care business operations and helping new owners chart their course to success. By the end of September, 619 people from 63 counties participated in the project.
Learn More

Pop-up shops focus of Nov. 12 webinar

Could pop-up shops be a way to add vibrancy, diversity and uniqueness to vacant spaces in your downtown? 
Saran Ouk, the Office of Business Resource Manager for the City of Madison and Jason Ilstrup, Executive Director of Downtown Madison will share how the Culture Collectives pop-up on State Street in Madison is helping create a more vibrant, equitable and welcoming downtown for the community and visitors!

Register now for this free WDAC webinar presented by AARP on Friday, November 12, 2021 at 11am.

Note: this is the second free WDAC webinar presented by AARP in lieu of our annual Downtown Summit.  If you missed October’s webinar on Winter Placemaking with 8 80 Cities and AARP Wisconsin’s Small Dollar, Big Impact Grants, read more here

Watch your email for registration information on additional webinars in January, February, and March designed to inspire and inform you.

Register Now

Minnesota unveils new marketing website

Twin Cities Business Magazine

Gov. Tim Walz and the state’s economic development leaders intend to get more aggressive about pitching Minnesota as a place to start and grow business. On Wednesday, they unveiled a new website, that makes the case for building business in Minnesota with information on key industries, talent, and quality of life.

“We’re talking to hundreds of companies a week. This gives us a core DNA,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner Steve Grove. “We don’t sit on top of a giant marketing budget. You’re not going to see a Super Bowl commercial from us. Our goal here is to make #joinusmn similar to Explore Minnesota’s #onlyinmn.”

The #onlyinmn hashtag has generated more than 1 million uses across social media platforms, helping Explore Minnesota promote state tourism.

Solar project unveiled in Fillmore County

Fillmore County Journal
At a media event called “Here Comes the Sun!” held on October 25, a bright and suitably sunny day, MiEnergy announced it has entered into a power purchase agreement with OneEnergy Renewables to buy up to nine megawatts (MW) of solar energy generated by solar arrays located in Rushford Village, Fountain, Lanesboro, and Stockton.

To put it into perspective, 9 MW will power approximately 1,900 homes using a total of 24,000 solar panels on 70 acres of land. The Fountain project is located on County Road 11 south of Fountain and will produce 3 MW of power. The Lanesboro project located along Highway 250 will feed its 3 MW of power into the Peterson substation. The Stockton project located along County Road 23 north of Stockton will produce 2 MW of power. Rushford’s 1 MW project is located behind MiEnergy’s office with a portion of it on CRV (City of Rushford Village) land. All projects are located on private land which is being leased for the duration of the project.

More details

La Crosse County seeks input on sustainability

A new survey asks La Crosse County residents what contributes most to their quality of life, and what they see as the biggest future threats to their wellbeing.

The short survey is the latest round of public input being solicited by the county to help develop the Envision 2050 Comprehensive Plan. To participate in the survey, click on this link or go to

“We want to hear from you on how you think we can protect our valuable resources for future generations,” said Charlie Handy, La Crosse County Planner.

The survey, which should take five minutes or less to complete, asks the public to prioritize uses for land in their community. It also asks the public whether they think the county should prioritize protection of natural ecosystems, even if doing so could slow economic growth.

Input from the survey, which will close Nov. 10, will be used to develop the sustainability chapter of the county’s new comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is a long-term planning document that must be updated once a decade. It describes the existing conditions of the county and lays out a vision to guide future decision-making. Learn more at

Engage Winona announces new director

In September, Engage Winona announced the appointment of Marcia Ratliff as the organization's next Executive Director.

Ratliff succeeds Brian Voerding, Engage Winona’s founding executive director, who served the organization over its first five years. Voerding left in June to serve as Vice President for Inclusive Leadership at the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls, MN.

Copyright © 2021 7 Rivers Alliance 
Our mailing address is:
601 N. 7th St., La Crosse, WI 54601

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
7 Rivers Alliance · 601 7th Street N #400 · La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp