Why can’t you publish some positive news?

I heard that question/accusation many times during my former 32-plus years as a journalist from readers who were tired of what they perceived as negative news. Of course the eye of the beholder determines whether a story is positive or negative, especially when politics are involved.

I’m proud to say that I was a part of many positive stories during my career. In fact, at the height of the Great Recession we deliberately chose a positive story for publication on page one just to make sure that we weren’t overwhelming readers with negative stories about the economy. The Extra Effort awards given to local high school students who overcame challenges were a weekly inspiration as well. 

The days of having to make those choices are behind me, but I’m still sensitive to seeking a balance between the negative and the positive. The whole focus of the 7 Rivers Alliance Workforce Development Plan is on how we can improve the challenges (aka negatives) that face our region like housing, transportation and child care -- all of which impair our ability to attract enough workers.

At the same time it’s important that we focus on the positives -- our high quality of life, excellent schools, top-notch healthcare and wonderful communities. Because those are some of the driving forces that we can and are marketing; sharing with people we want to live and work in our region.

Nothing makes the 7 Rivers Region successful without its incredible people. That’s why I’m so pleased we’re once again partnering with the River Valley Media Group to present the top Rising Stars under 40 in the region. The winners will be recognized in a reception on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Stories about the winners and profiles will be published by the La Crosse Tribune and we will share them through our website and social media.

Selecting winners from all of the outstanding nominations is not an easy task -- everyone nominated clearly makes a difference in their community. Reading the nominations is a humbling and rewarding experience. These are men and women in our region whose endeavors enrich our lives and raise the bar for all of us. 

Yes, we have our challenges. We can’t run and hide from them. But we can also celebrate our assets. Please join me in congratulating and thanking the Rising Stars of 2019.
Tickets for event: Eventbrite
The event will be featuring a special town hall meeting with Minneapolis Federal Reserve Chair Neel Kashkari.

About this Event

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Union, 521 East Ave. N., in the Bluffs meeting room. Lunch will be served.

The meeting will include an update on the 7 Rivers Alliance Workforce Development Plan, results of the annual executive survey and the winner of the Lee Rasch Community Service Award.

Kashkari is the head of the Federal Reserve’s Ninth District, a region that stretches from northwestern Wisconsin and Michigan’s U.P. west to Montana (and includes all of Minnesota and the Dakotas).

Kashkari sits on the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC, where the Fed decides interest rates and other monetary policy). He will take questions from the audience.

Tickets through Eventbrite here.

Business leaders and executives are encouraged to take 
To take the survey, visit link here

Houston County Economic Development Office Hosts a Design Thinking Workshop

Ideas to Solutions in 90 Minutes

Students, business representatives and community members are invited to participate in a free design thinking workshop, hosted by Houston County EDA on October 22, 2019 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the La Crescent Area Event Center, North Ball Room, 595 Veterans Way, La Crescent, MN 55947.

Participants in this workshop will learn the art of design thinking to address problems and create solutions in just 90 minutes.

Design thinking is a process for creative problem-solving using a human-centered approach that includes:

FRAMING: understanding the current situation from a human-centered and empathetic point of view.
IDEATING: conceptualizing and exploring ideas that might address unmet needs.
EXPERIMENTING: trying out ideas in order to learn more.

Participants will learn how to take their idea from a raw concept to a workable solution in a fast-paced, hands-on workshop.

Tickets: Eventbrite.

Ideas that emerge from the workshop will help prepare participants to submit those ideas to Destination Medical Center’s Assistive Tech Challenge.

The Assistive Tech Challenge is a pitch competition to facilitate greater independence for individuals with disabilities and the daily challenges they face.

The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks solutions to:

•Alleviating barriers to employment

•Reducing the need for and/or easing the demands of direct support on care providers

•Developing social skills that better enable people with and without disabilities to interact and cultivate meaningful relationships; and

•Improving access to the community through public infrastructure

The Assistive Tech Challenge is April 4, 2020 in Rochester, Minnesota. More details to be announced later this fall. Questions can be directed to



Hemp: How legalization of hemp and hemp derivatives is shaping the regional economy
Thursday, October 3, 2019
 7:00-9:00 a.m.
The Bluffs at the UWL Student Union 
Following a change in federal law, the State of Wisconsin passed legislation that made it legal to grow industrial hemp. About 200 Wisconsin farmers then began to produce hemp. Currently, there is significant interest in growing hemp to produce cannabidiol (CBD), which is being marketed as a supplement for a variety of potential health applications. Many Wisconsin farmers are hoping that hemp can provide them with a new income source, especially since the dairy industry has been struggling in recent years.

Learn more about the impact of hemp at the Fall Economic Indicators event when Professor Taggert (TJ) Brooks shares his insights on this innovative topic.
Join TJ Brooks as well as a panel composed of experts in the field for a deeper look at this topic. Panelists for this event will be:
  • Scott Birrenkott, Assistant Director - Legal, Wisconsin Bankers Association 
  • Brian Kuhn, Director, Plant Industry Bureau of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
  • Abbie Testaberg, Founder & COO, Whole Plant Technologies
Please register online or phone the Wisconsin SBDC at UW-La Crosse at 608.785.8783. Registration closes on October 2. Breakfast will be served at 7:00 a.m. The program will begin promptly at 7:20 a.m. and will end at 9:00 a.m. We expect another well-attended event and seating is limited! 
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 Chris:

WEDC accepting applications for Entrepreneurship Support Program

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is now accepting applications from nonprofit and community-based organizations for a grant program designed to advance the statewide climate for entrepreneurship.

The Entrepreneurship Support Program provides financial assistance of between $10,000 and $100,000 for projects that promote entrepreneurship and provide Wisconsin entrepreneurs with key resources, including training, mentorship, and business development and financial services.

Launched in 2016, the initiative has provided nearly $1.5 million in grants to 28 organizations statewide to help fund activities such as prototyping assistance, legal services and outreach to underserved entrepreneurs. Those grants have enabled organizations to provide services to hundreds of entrepreneurs through a wide variety of initiatives.

While WEDC has a variety of programs to support the formation, development, growth and financing of technology-based and growth-oriented startup and early-stage businesses, this initiative provides funding to organizations and communities whose efforts may not meet the eligibility criteria for existing programs.

Read Full Story

Hiring Difficulties in Manufacturing Survey shows majority of employers have trouble filling vacancies in skilled production jobs

Minnesota employers reported 146,513 job vacancies in the second quarter of 2019, the highest total on record and an indication that the state’s labor market remains tight, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development(DEED).

The Job Vacancy Survey figures were slightly ahead of the same period a year ago, when there were 142,282 job vacancies, which was the previous record.

Statewide, there were 0.9 unemployed persons for each vacancy, meaning there are slightly more open positions than unemployed individuals in Minnesota. While this ratio indicates that the labor market is still very tight, it is up from one year ago when there were only 0.6 unemployed person for each vacancy, suggesting that the labor market is showing signs of leveling out.

Read Full Story

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