2021 Wisconsin Rural Economic Summit

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We are glad you joined us for a virtual summit on the Wisconsin rural economy

Using the latest research and data specific to Wisconsin’s rural communities and regions, we discussed the Wisconsin rural economy with a focus on innovative strategies that foster economic opportunities and well-being. The summit included an overview of historical and current trends in the Wisconsin rural economy, look to lessons learned from rural communities, and focus on proactive strategies that Wisconsin’s smaller and rural communities can implement. You can find presentations and recordings of the summit on this page.


Useful Links from the Summit


1:00 – Introduction to the Summit and Partner Organizations

1:05 – General Historic Economic Trends with Dr. Steven Deller, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension & Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics

We will take a look at historical (1970-2018) trends in employment and income across metro and nonmetro regions of Wisconsin relative to the U.S. and Great Lakes states. Presentation Slides Here>>

1:30 – Migration Patterns with Dr. Richelle Winkler, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University

A presentation on rural migration patterns with particular attention to notions of brain-drain and boomerang migration. Presentation Slides Here>>

1:45 – Commuting Patterns with Matt Kures, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

Learn how the growth of the “relevant economic region” (labor market sheds) are leading rural communities to be more interconnect with each other and urban centers. Presentation Slides Here>>

2:00 – COVID and the Economy with Dr. Tessa Conroy, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

A brief overview of the impact of COVID on the larger Wisconsin economy. Presentation Slides Here>>

2:15 – Lessons from Rural Iowa with Dr. Deb Tootle, Department of Community and Regional Planning, Iowa State University

Hear about “lessons learned” from the Iowa Small Towns Project. This project has been tracking 99 towns in Iowa since 1994 through repeated surveys, focus groups, personal interviews and analysis of secondary data. Some of these towns have struggled, others have become more vibrant. The project has identified a series of patterns that can inform policy. Presentation Slides Here>>

2:45 – Insights from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity with Tom Landgraf, Principal, Dimension Development, LLC, Madison and Susan Townsley, Clinical Social Worker, Stonehouse Counseling, Viroqua

Highlights about rural Wisconsin and ideas to enhance rural prosperity drawn from Rural Voices for Prosperity: A Report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity

3:15 – Breakout Sessions

Let’s discuss where we go from here and how we maintain momentum on rural prosperity issues. Each session will provide a brief overview of an inspirational or informative effort within a Wisconsin rural community followed by a facilitated discussion on the related topic:

      • Developing and engaging youth leaders
      • Identifying a successful rural housing strategy
      • Meeting and supporting childcare needs in rural communities
      • Increasing rural in-migration
      • Placemaking as a community economic development strategy
      • Forging partnerships between business and the wider community
      • Fostering a more entrepreneurial community

3:50Concluding remarks from Sam Rikkers, Chief Operating Officer, WEDC

Questions about the summit content or other arrangements? Please contact Brandon Hofstedt.

Sponsoring Partners

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension Economic Development University Center

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Office on Rural Prosperity

Wisconsin Rural Partners

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

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