Ten rural communities in Wisconsin will get help meeting their biggest economic development needs and planning for their long-term goals.

Under the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s Thrive Rural program, each participant will have access to up to $25,000 in grants. They also get two years of technical assistance in planning and grant writing. These are services typically employed by larger communities.

”Many of our smaller communities have big goals and big ideas, but they don’t have the staff or the experience to connect to the resources,” says WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes.

She says the goal of the Thrive Rural program is to help them build their economic development muscles.

WEDC’s Office of Rural Prosperity is partnering with local economic development organizations and working with communities on projects. These projects relate to community development, small business development, housing, and sustainable energy.

Meet the 10 participating communities:

  • The Vilas County Economic Development Corp. is working with the Town of Phelps to acquire and demolish a former hospital on Highway 17. They will develop and create a more welcoming gateway to the community, which local officials believe will spur additional development.
  • Marinette County and InVenture North are working with the City of Peshtigo to attract high-quality housing to the city. They may bring a second, smaller multi-family housing development in the larger Marinette County community.
  • Shawano County Economic Progress, Inc. is working with the Village of Bonduel to attract more single-family and multi-family housing. They will also revive its aging downtown and consolidate its municipal offices, which are scattered among multiple sites.
  • The Sawyer County/Lac Courte Oreilles Economic Development Corp. is working with local governments, Northwoods Technical College, and others to develop a business incubator. They want to promote entrepreneurship in the Hayward area.
  • The Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. is working with the cities of Kewaunee and Algoma to promote community development. They also want to increase affordable housing and develop a self-sustaining funding strategy for future growth.
  • The Bayfield County Housing Authority is working with the Town of Bell to increase affordable housing for senior citizens. This may catalyze additional residential development in the wider community.
  • The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is working to implement the tribe’s economic diversification. They want to redevelop a former casino and create a mixed-use village incorporating retail, commercial, residential, and community development.
  • Driftless Development, Inc. is working with the Village of Gays Mills and Gays Mills Connect Communities to create a public gathering space. They also want to consolidate local government and service agencies in one place and promote additional housing development.
  • Wood County is working with the City of Pittsville and Pittsville School District to establish a nonprofit community development organization. They want to create outdoor recreation and housing plans.
  • The Vernon County Energy District is working with area municipalities to pursue local energy generation. This includes solar-generating facilities and a microgrid for emergencies.