Some would say there is no such thing as a sure bet, but after seeing the film “No Small Matter” recently, I would beg to differ.

The film -- which was brought to the region by a local collaborative concerned about child care -- drove home a critical message that we should heed. An early investment in quality child care between the ages of zero and 5 has an enormous return on an investment.

According to the film, the money saved in the healthcare system, in prisons, in tax revenue and in special education is somewhere between $4 and $13 for every dollar invested in a young child.

Think about that for a moment. Invest $1 and get a return of between 400% and 1,300%. And we receive children who grow up prepared for success, ready for the workforce which so desperately needs them.

The brand new documentary film was brought to the region by the Great Rivers United Way, the sparks! child care collaborative, The Parenting Place, Once Upon a Child and the International Performing Arts Campus. I was pleased that 7 Rivers Alliance helped to promote the film.

I attended the first viewing of the 70-minute film on Aug. 24 at the La Crosse Rivoli Theatre. It was also shown on Aug. 28 at Onalaska International Performing Arts Campus and will be shown Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library.

The 7 Rivers Alliance Workforce Development Plan in 2015 identified the lack of quality child care as one of three challenges to the region’s workforce, along with housing and transportation. We have invested many hours working with area collaboratives to help identify the challenges of child care and possible solutions. We held a child care summit in April to discuss the topic.

Our regional challenge of a shortage of quality and affordable child care isn’t unique. The film points out that just 10% of child care in America is considered high quality. In 1950 just 12% of mothers with children under 5 were in the workforce. Today it’s 65%. But with lower-wage jobs, today in 33 states the cost of child care for an infant costs more than tuition at a public college.

For some families, child care is simply not an option. Parents are working part-time, staggered shifts, relying on family members or quitting their jobs to take care of their children.

The film demonstrates that the first few years of life for infants is a crucial learning time -- billions of neurons are connected by synapses at a rate of 700 per second. If a child doesn’t not have an engaging, loving environment, toxic experiences can rewire the brain and have negative consequences that last a lifetime.

If that doesn’t get your attention, maybe this will. Retired military commanders interviewed in the film emphasizing the importance of quality child care said that 71% of all Americans between the ages of 17 and 25 can’t quality for military service, either because they’re too poorly educated, they have a criminal record, or they’re physically unfit. They equate our failure to invest in early childhood education is a full-blown national security problem.

If the leaders who protect our country take this seriously, maybe we should too.

The good news is that we can solve this. We need to join the rest of the industrialized nations who invest in child care. A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows we rank 30th out of 33 member nations when it comes to public spending on child care as a percentage of GDP.

This will require our elected officials on the federal, state and local level to realize that spending on child care isn’t just an expense -- it is an investment. One that we owe the 24 million children in our country under the age of 6.

Locally the 7 Rivers Alliance will continue to make child care a priority. We’d like you to join that effort.

For a video clip of “No Small Matter” click here.



Business leaders and executives are encouraged to take 
To take the survey, visit link here
An opportunity to find potential candidates to meet your workforce needs. Last year over 200 job seekers visited the Coulee Region Job Fair. Join the Coulee Region Job Fair and take advantage of this opportunity to increase your business exposure to the workforce. This event is open to the public and will be highly publicized to attract job-seekers. Business registration is required.

Click here to register!
Veterans have the character, discipline and skills needed to
succeed as small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Wondering what it takes and how you can prepare? Enroll in
Boots to Business Reboot.
To register, go to
September 12.
October 24.

November 8.

Boots to Business Reboot is an entrepreneurial education and
training program offered by the U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA). The course provides an overview of
entrepreneurship and applicable business ownership
fundamentals. Veterans of all eras, Active Duty Service
members (including National Guard and Reserve), and spouses
are eligible to participate.

During Reboot, participants are introduced to the skills,
knowledge, and resources they need to launch a business,
including steps for developing business concepts, how to
develop a business plan, and information on SBA resources
available to help. The program is facilitated by subject matter
experts from the SBA and their extensive network of skilled
business advisors.

Participants that complete an in-person B2B Reboot course
can elect to further their study through one of many B2B online
courses, offered at no cost to Service members, Veterans and
military spouses. If you’ve already attended an in-person B2B
course, visit here to sign up for one of the online B2B follow-on courses.
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 has launched in school districts throughout the region and will be active in all Wisconsin districts in the region by the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. 

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

CEDA Authors Successful Grant for Houston County Farming Initiative

CEDA team members Courtney Bergey Swanson with the Spring Grove Economic Development Authority and Allison Wagner with Houston County Economic Development Authority have been working with many partners on a farming initiative in the region called Driftless Grown. Houston County was recently awarded an $18,000 SMIF grant for the Driftless Grown initiative. Swanson authored the successful grant for the County. 

This new initiative helps farmers build skills as entrepreneurs and connect with resources to help strengthen their business. The project aims to support existing and budding farmers by connecting them with education, networks, resources, and new markets, as well as attract new entrepreneurs to the region through strategic branding and promotion. 

Read Full Story

WEDC, Industry Leaders Recognize Statewide Economic Contributions of Wisconsin’s Paper Manufacturers

Officials from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) visited three paper plants and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point today to draw attention to the release of a new report showing the importance of the paper industry to the state’s economy.

Drawing on national industry data, the study by the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST) at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point found Wisconsin ranks first in the nation in the number of paper mills, the number of industry employees and the value of products sold.

Read Full Story
Read Full Report

Our Next Chapter at DEED

Commisioner Steve Grove

DEED's mission is to empower the growth of the Minnesota economy, for everyone. To meet that mission, we partner with organizations and communities all across the state to tackle the challenges our economy faces, focusing on doing things that the market is not incentivized to do.

In the past few months, we've spent time building a plan for the next year that will guide our work. Rooted in the goals of Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan, informed by the legislature and the 2019 legislative session, and shaped by conversations with hundreds of the people and partners we serve, this plan will guide our work in the coming year.

We wanted to share it with the public, both for transparency and to inspire further engagement.

We set three main objectives for DEED's work for the next year (in addition to two internal objectives on growing our agency culture, and our trust and reputation with the public). For each objective, we attached a few simple "key results" - measurable outcomes we can use to determine our effectiveness.

These metrics will stretch us, and we may not hit every single one. But they give us a clear sense of direction and will push us to do better for the people of Minnesota.

Read Full Strategic Plan

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