Community Economic Analysis for Rural Wisconsin Communities

The Community Economic Development Program is pleased to accept applications for the Community Economic Analysis for Rural Wisconsin Communities (CEA-RWC) Pilot Initiative supported by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

What is the CEA-RWC Pilot Initiative?

As the Wisconsin economy builds back from the COVID pandemic recession, many rural communities struggle with identifying opportunities and strategies to move community economic development efforts forward. These rural communities often do not have the needed resources (i.e., staff, money or local expertise) to engage in comprehensive community economic development planning. The Community Economic Analysis for Rural Wisconsin Communities (CEA-RWC) pilot program is a joint effort between the University of Wisconsin, the Division of Extension, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to bring a structured community economic development strategic planning program to a set of rural Wisconsin communities.

When is Extension Accepting Applications?

We are accepting applications through August 15, 2022. From the applications received, Extension and WEDC will select five communities to work with through a structured, yet flexible, strategic planning process aimed at helping rural Wisconsin. These pilot communities will be notified of acceptance no later than September 1, 2022. Pilot communities will work with Extension and WEDC upon acceptance through June 30, 2024.

Who can Apply?

This pilot program is open to rural places in Wisconsin including local communities, rural regions, rural counties, and tribal communities. Population size for pilot communities should fall between 1,000 and 7,500 people.

Why are Extension and WEDC Piloting this Initiative?

Extension and WEDC aim to understand the challenges for rural Wisconsin communities working on and executing community economic development plans. These efforts will provide valuable insight into establishing a process and pathway that other rural communities throughout Wisconsin can engage in as they develop and look to execute comprehensive community economic development planning in their community.

Before Applying

We strongly recommend downloading the application questions and preparing your answers before placing your answers into the application form. The application form may time out before you can submit your questions if you choose to write the questions directly into the submission form. To guarantee your work is saved, be sure to prepare your answers and then copy and paste your responses into the application form. You can download the questions here (PDF, Word).

What can pilot communities expect if selected as part of this initiative?

Communities selected for participation should expect the following support and expertise from Extension and WEDC:

  • organizing for community economic development by building a strong, inclusive local leadership team,
  • identifying economic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats,
  • exploring a range of policy options and strategies to pursue locally,
  • developing an action plan to address issues identified by the community, and
  • working with partners (federal, state, local, and philanthropic organizations) to explore funding options to implement the plan.

What is expected of the pilot communities?

If chosen, pilot communities are expected to commit the following:

  • helping establish a diverse and representative local leadership team,
  • committing time and effort to oversee and support each step, including:
    • forming a leadership group,
    • reviewing data,
    • identifying community economic development opportunities,
    • prioritizing these opportunities,
    • exploring community economic development strategies,
    • communicating efforts with the broader community,
    • helping write a local action plan, and
    • supporting the implementation of goals and objectives identified in the action plan.

This project is supported through a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Capacity Building Grant Program.


For more information or questions about this project or the application process, contact Brandon Hofstedt.

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