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Is It Possible to Have It All?

Monday, August 27, 2018

There is something beautiful about knowing what you want your life to be like, knowing where you belong, and building a life with that level of confidence. That is something that Keri Uzpen had years ago, when she left Polk County to go to college at the University of Minnesota. While in college, she knew that she loved living and playing outdoors in this beautiful corner of Wisconsin. She knew that she wanted to raise a family in this community and that she would move home after graduating. This knowledge allowed her to tailor her degree for the local job...
BP Motorsports opens

Friday, August 24, 2018

It’s been a life long dream of Bobby Penders to run his own repair and service shop.  June 4 he opened BP Motorsports in Osceola, just south of the village center in the former Denny’s Auto. By month’s end, the shop was full of ATVs and dirt bikes. “The first couple weeks were kind of slow but its really starting to pick up,” he said in late June. After seven years working at a different repair shop, he recently resolved to build his own legacy. “I realized it was time,” he said. “I had already been doing a lot of this stuff on the...
The economies of every US state and DC, ranked from worst to best

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The US is a massive, complex economy, and so too are the component economies of the 50 states and Washington, DC, that make up the whole. Business Insider combined six measures of labor-market and general economic health for all the states and the District of Columbia. They are the unemployment rate, job growth, per-capita GDP, GDP growth, average weekly wages, and wage growth. By putting all those on a common scale and combining them, we came up with an overall score for each state's economy. 10. Wisconsin Wisconsin's April 2018 unemployment rate of 2.8% was tied for fifth-lowest among the states and DC, and its...
HOOKED ON A FEELING: UNIQUE EXPERIENCES HELP FILL WISCONSIN’S TALENT PIPELINE

Friday, August 17, 2018

By all measures economists use to assess the quality of life a place offers—job availability, cost of living, commute times, recreation, etc.—Wisconsin stacks up pretty well. Very well, in fact. Problem is, people don’t consult economists when choosing the best place to pursue their passions. As CEO of NEWaukee, I devote my professional life and much of my personal life to promoting Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a career and lifestyle destination. My pitch has very little to do with the metrics you find in national rankings of “best places to live” and everything to do with what it feels like...
Deer Lake Winery opens

Friday, August 03, 2018

After dreaming of opening a winery of their own for years, Cheryl and Keith Johnson have made it happen. The Deer Lake Winery held its grand opening on June 23.  The Johnsons have been growing grapes for 15 years and making their own wine for 10. Their vines come from the original Elmer Swenson vineyard. Swenson worked with the University of Minnesota years ago and developed vines that would withstand long, cold winters. The Johnsons stared all their vines from Swenson’s cuttings. Continue to full article
DigniCare project now Good Life Senior Living

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Plans for a senior living facility that have been in the works since 2015 appear to be moving forward again. The Osceola Village Board approved the sale of 16 acres for the facility in August 2015, effectively a land trade for the former trailer court. And in May 2016 the board approved a site plan for the senior housing project, then planned as a DigniCare site. But all has been quiet in “Osceola Heights,” the intended site, south of Ridge Road. Continue to full article
Work and Live Where You Play: Polk County!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

For many decades, it has been a temptation for young adults to move away from their small town and experience the big city.  This tug of the ‘cities’ is real.  There are many things to do and see in metropolitan areas.  And, yes, there are a large number of jobs and careers that are dangled in front of people… jobs that may offer them a premium in terms of hourly wages or salary.  But ‘city-life’ is not necessarily the best way to experience life to its fullest. Many people are finding that smaller communities can offer more than cities in terms...
Workers are the new weapon as states go to extremes in the battle for business

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Forequarter restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, has managed to pull off a rare feat. Not only has it has stayed in business for six years, it is also still routinely referred to as trendy. On a recent visit, people were already showing up for dinner by 5:00 p.m. on a weeknight. Business is good, said owner Jonny Hunter, but it could be so much better. “We’re not open as much as we want to,” he said. The restaurant is open only for dinner, and it is closed on Sundays. Hunter said he would love to do more, if only he could staff the...
The economies of every US state and DC, ranked from worst to best

Friday, July 27, 2018

The US is a massive, complex economy, and so too are the component economies of the 50 states and Washington, DC, that make up the whole. Business Insider combined six measures of labor-market and general economic health for all the states and the District of Columbia. They are the unemployment rate, job growth, per-capita GDP, GDP growth, average weekly wages, and wage growth. By putting all those on a common scale and combining them, we came up with an overall score for each state's economy. 10. Wisconsin Wisconsin's April 2018 unemployment rate of 2.8% was tied for fifth-lowest among the states and DC, and its...
HOOKED ON A FEELING: UNIQUE EXPERIENCES HELP FILL WISCONSIN’S TALENT PIPELINE

Thursday, July 26, 2018

By all measures economists use to assess the quality of life a place offers—job availability, cost of living, commute times, recreation, etc.—Wisconsin stacks up pretty well. Very well, in fact. Problem is, people don’t consult economists when choosing the best place to pursue their passions. As CEO of NEWaukee, I devote my professional life and much of my personal life to promoting Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a career and lifestyle destination. My pitch has very little to do with the metrics you find in national rankings of “best places to live” and everything to do with what it feels like...
WEDC, UW-Eau Claire launch marketing campaign to encourage out-of-state alumni to ‘come home’

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

WEDC, UW-Eau Claire launch marketing campaign to encourage out-of-state alumni to ‘come home’ UW-Eau Claire is one of nine higher-education institutions joining  state’s first-ever campaign featuring graduates who have chosen Wisconsin as their career destination Eau Claire, WI.  — The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire today unveiled a new marketing campaign aimed at encouraging alumni of Wisconsin colleges and universities to pursue their personal and professional goals in Wisconsin. The campaign includes social media ads that link to videos featuring the perspectives of young people who have studied in Wisconsin and landed their dream jobs here, either right...
Community Club honors volunteers, businesses at banquet

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Amery Community Club held its seventh annual Past President’s Dinner and Community Business Awards Banquet Friday, May 11 at Cricket’s Banquet Center. A total of 86 nominees were honored with awards in 10 categories. Businesses marking milestone anniversaries were honored as well: Williamson-White Funeral Home - 130 years City of Amery - 125 years Bremer Bank - 100 years Northwest Communications - 120 years Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp - 70 years Continue to full article
Apprenticeship program receives recognition

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Amery’s Youth Apprenticeship Program was recognized by the Polk County Economic Development Corporation at the group’s annual awards banquet, held May 15 in Balsam Lake. The district received one of two Public Partnership Awards that were presented. Amery Public Schools has shown a commitment to both the development of Amery High School students and the economic vitality of local businesses. The high school is a leader in recruiting and placing high school students in the Youth Apprenticeship Program that helps train students in certain skills and jobs while they are still in high school. This program also fills a need for many employers...
30 years of the Wisconsin Main Street Program

Monday, July 16, 2018

As we prepare to celebrate Wisconsin’s downtowns for #WIMainSt Day, we are also celebrating 30 years of the Wisconsin Main Street program. Check out this video about what makes this program so special!  
Second Avenue Crossing whiskey tasting earns statewide recognition

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Osceola Area Chamber and Main Street Program was recognized for its outstanding downtown revitalization efforts at the 27th Wisconsin Main Street Awards ceremony this April in Ripon. Second Avenue Crossing took top honors with the Best Cooperative Business Marketing Award for their whiskey tasting event last October. The tasting boasted samples and education from 45th Parallel Distillery in New Richmond, food from SirSmokeAlot BBQ, cigars from Sodie’s Cigars, music by Bob Brace of Red Bird Music Store, and spheres of ice for the whiskey tumblers by Whiskey Barrel Ice Baller.  More than 200 attended the event and, according to the chamber, another...
Manufacturers get sneak peek into future fab lab

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Area manufacturers and skilled tradespeople gathered at the site of the future Discovery Center Fab Lab and Workforce Development Center for a hard hat luncheon hosted by the Inspire…Building a Center of Discovery fundraising campaign.  Speaker Mark Tyler spoke about fabrication laboratories as a local resource for training the next generation of manufacturers. Tyler is president of OEM Fabricators, Inc., chair of the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board and a regent for the University of Wisconsin.   Continue to full article
Watershed Cafe recognized for stewardship

Monday, July 09, 2018

An Osceola restaurant has earned this year’s St. Croix Watershed Stewardship Award. In May, the St. Croix River Association recognized the Watershed Cafe and its owners, Rita and Steve Rasmuson, for their contributions to stewardship of the St. Croix River and its broader watershed.  Rita and Steve opened the Watershed Cafe in July 2014, and continue to carry out their original vision of operating a sustainably-sourced, community-focused restaurant along the St. Croix River. The Rasmusons honor the surrounding natural resources and the vibrant community by cultivating partnerships which support their environmental stewardship. They do so by collaborating with local farmers who...
Liaison, organizer, visionary: ArtBarn names new executive director

Friday, July 06, 2018

Recipe for an executive director at a small-town arts center: Mix equal parts event planner, volunteer coordinator and visionary. Add a dash of diplomacy and a pinch of ambition. Stir gently. At the St. Croix ArtBarn, a new executive director took the helm January 1. An Amery resident and longtime volunteer at the arts center, Chad Leonard has his own take on the job description. Continue to full article
Wisconsin Looks To Address Long-Term And Short-Term Workforce Challenges

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

State Faces Workforce Shortages Due To Economic Conditions, Demographics It will take a range of approaches to address the state's long- and short-term workforce needs, according to Wisconsin's secretary of workforce development. Ray Allen said that with the latest unemployment rate at a record-low 2.8 percent, his agency is working to help employers fill immediate openings. An ad campaign from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is aimed at attracting more veterans and young workers from other Midwestern states to Wisconsin. Continue to full article
Wisconsin’s bioscience industry employment growth outpaces nation but wage growth lags national average

Monday, July 02, 2018

Employment growth in Wisconsin’s bioscience industry has outpaced the national average in recent years, according to a new study from a national biotechnology trade organization. According to the report from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Wisconsin saw 5.8 percent growth in employment in the bioscience industry from 2014-16, compared to the national average of 4.4 percent. During the same period, the number of bioscience establishments grew 13.4 percent in Wisconsin, compared to 7.7 percent nationally. Wages grew at a more sluggish pace, however. According to the report, the average annual wage in Wisconsin’s bioscience industry grew by 1.5 percent from 2014-16. That was about...
Qualified New Business Ventures will no longer have to pay additional state fees

Friday, June 29, 2018

New state law expected to save start-up companies thousands of dollars Madison, WI.  — Wisconsin early-stage companies that are certified as Qualified New Business Ventures and incorporated as C corporations in other states will no longer have to pay additional assessment fees under a new state law that takes effect today. Until today, state law required “foreign” C corporations – those legally incorporated in other states – to pay variable fees associated with the filings of certificates of authority, annual reports and applications of withdrawal with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Many C corporations are incorporated in Delaware but have significant...
Foxconn announces $1 million “Smart City, Smart Future” competition; partners with Wisconsin universities and technical colleges on statewide initiative

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New initiative will encourage innovative ideas from students and faculty for smart connected cities and systems to better serve Wisconsin Kenosha, WI – Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) today announced a “Smart City, Smart Future” initiative in which the company will partner with higher education institutions statewide to seek out the best new ideas for the development of smart connected cities and systems throughout Wisconsin. Foxconn is committing $1 million over the next three years to this initiative, with the goal of tapping talent at public and private universities and colleges. To be formally launched in the fall, the “Smart City, Smart Future” initiative...
Housing Demand Outpacing Supply

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Over the past several months, a lot of people have asked me about available housing in Polk County.  Some of these people are first-time buyers while others are seeking to ‘downsize’ to a smaller home or even ‘senior housing’ with less maintenance and responsibilities.  There are also those who wish to rent an apartment.  It seems that many people are looking for places to live, but with limited success.  The fact of the matter is that the demand for housing is exceeding the supply in Polk County. One might think that if the demand for homes and apartments is great enough,...
Entrepreneurs Go Rural in Polk County

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The economy is growing and now is an excellent time to own a business. For any entrepreneur who has the next big-idea, or for established businesses looking to grow, 2018 is the time to make key business decisions and implement strategies for growth. Polk County Economic Development Corporation supports local area businesses and entrepreneurs in their endeavors by providing mentorship, connections with key financial resources, assistance with workforce development and relocation. We come alongside local businesses and make it easier to grow. When thinking about the growth goals you have for the year, consider the many benefits of doing business...
Teamwork: A Key to Success

Friday, June 01, 2018

In the midst of the NBA and NHL finals one might think a discussion on teamwork belongs on the sports pages.  But the teamwork I am referring to is not played on a basketball court or on a sheet of ice.  This teamwork is demonstrated right here in Polk County by our local and county governments, private businesses, schools, and citizens.  Working together, these entities and individuals are creating a synergy that is strengthening our communities. Polk County and each of its villages, cities, and townships, are always undergoing some sort of change.  Businesses come and go.  Population and demographics can...
Broadband Forward! Community

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Polk County recently enacted an ordinance which encourages the expansion of broadband internet in the county.  Due to the passing of this resolution, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin certified Polk County as a Broadband Forward! Community.  This certification identifies local units of government that have taken steps to reduce obstacles to broadband infrastructure development.  Read more about the ordinance, certification, and press release.
Polk County EDC Award Winners Recognized

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Polk County Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Awards Banquet was held Tuesday, May 15th, at Paradise Landing in Balsam Lake.  The banquet is held each year to recognize the economic and community contributions of local businesses.  This year, the EDC expanded its pool of recipients to include public or government entities that partner with private enterprise to generate significant benefits for Polk County residents. With approximately 125 people in attendance, awards were presented by State Senator Patty Schachtner, along with representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy.  Recognition also came in written form from...
The Power of One Small Business

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

In the finance section of newspapers and on TV we often hear about enormous businesses taking sweeping actions that impact large numbers of workers and communities.  In fact, in our own state we have been hearing about the Wisconsin Foxconn project for over a year.  These stories make headlines because of their vast scope and because they are easily understood by the casual observer.  During my one year as the Executive Director of the Polk County Economic Development Corporation I have observed a remarkably different phenomenon:  One small business can have a far-reaching impact on an entire community!  This impact...
Small steps, big dreams

Friday, April 27, 2018

Seventeen-year-old Julia Sandberg has always been drawn to the kitchen. She taught herself to cook at home but, through an apprenticeship at the Watershed Cafe, has expanded her skill set. Carter Rasmuson, another apprentice at the popular Osceola restaurant, jokes that he’d been working with his parents since age 12 and finally decided to get credit for it. The joke works best if you know that his parents, Rita and Steve Rasmuson, were restaurant industry veterans even before they opened the Watershed in 2014. Sandberg and Rasmuson, both 17 years old and seniors at Osceola High School, work at the cafe through...
Lakeland Communications Brings Fiber to Polk County

Monday, April 23, 2018

The availability of broadband is critical to economic growth. With broadband, Polk County can attract entrepreneurs, startups and larger companies who depend on their ability to instantly connect to the internet and conduct business remotely. Lakeland Communications understands the importance of broadband and has been actively working to place fiber since the 1990s after their board reached the important decision to begin laying fiber. Now, they are working on future-proofing their infrastructure to ensure that folks in Polk County will always have access to the fastest internet speeds. This includes laying 600 route miles of fiber optic cable, serving more...
Manpower Hiring Forecast Carries Good News For Wisconsin

Monday, April 23, 2018

State Is Tied For Best Outlook By 1 Measure Wisconsin is tied for first among states in a national hiring forecast from the Milwaukee-based temporary services firm ManpowerGroup. ManpowerGroup says 32 percent of Wisconsin employers surveyed plan to add workers this spring. Only 2 percent expect layoffs. ManpowerGroup calls that a 30 percent "net employment outlook," tying Wisconsin for first with New Hampshire. ManpowerGroup Wisconsin Regional Director Amber Laurent says reaching 30 is rare. "You don't have to be in the staffing industry to know that employers all over have job hiring signs," Laurent said. "You know, employers obviously have positions to fill, and we know they're struggling to...
Increasing the productivity of Wisconsin manufacturers

Friday, April 20, 2018

The goal of the Total Productivity Initiative is to increase productivity at the company level, and to bring these improvements to scale where the aggregate gains drive economic expansion in the state of Wisconsin. This is a call to action for Wisconsin and the state’s manufacturers. Productivity is the engine of economic growth and prosperity, but has lagged in Wisconsin and across the U.S. over the last decade. TPI is a public-private partnership assembled to provide leadership for Wisconsin’s manufacturers on the challenges they face in achieving productivity growth. TPI is designed to: Assist manufacturers in benchmarking their performance against others in their...
Wisconsin’s cluster accelerators highlight innovative business development approach

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Supporters of Wisconsin’s statewide startup ecosystem understand the key to success is delivering the right resources to the right entrepreneurs at the right time and in the right place. Wisconsin’s industry development strategy leverages a versatile investment tool—the Targeted Industry Project Program administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)—to support catalytic initiatives in industry sectors with the greatest potential for significant job growth. Participants in such projects include private business, industry consortia organizations, educational institutions and economic development stakeholders. One example of such an industry-focused investment is the establishment of a center of excellence that acts as an anchor for education, R&D,...
Agriculture in Polk County Strong All Year

Monday, April 02, 2018

During my recent vacation to Florida I was amazed at how green and lush the surroundings were during the height of winter.  Coconut Palm trees, orchards, and farms were thriving.  For a moment I wondered how agriculture-based counties in Wisconsin could compete economically given the fact that green plants are replaced with white snow for several months each year.  But then I reflected on several agricultural businesses in Polk County and realized that local agribusiness and agricultural products are alive and well all year. Wisconsin is known as the Dairy State, but it is much more. While cheese and milk are...
Entrepreneurs, Risk-Takers, and Leaders

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Americans, in general, are not afraid to take a risk.  Beginning with, for example, the adventurers and pilgrims who sailed the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of years ago to begin a life in what they called the ‘New World.’  They left their previous way of life and most of their belongings to take a chance on a dream.  Their urge to explore, expand west, and to create something better is a trait that has passed through generations and still exists throughout America in the form of entrepreneurs…people who risk their money, time, and heart to start a new business. As I tour...