Northern EDGE


The Northern Economic Development and Growing the Economy (EDGE) program is a demonstration project  that contributes to building foundations for local job growth and business development in twenty-nine (29) targeted counties in Northern Wisconsin . This demonstration project focuses on building capacity, creating economic and workforce resources, and stimulating business and industry activity.  The program combined the three components below in order to achieve these goals:


Northern EDGE Counties

Northern EDGE targets the most northern counties of the state, roughly defined as counties north of U.S. Highway 29. These counties include:


Eau Claire


St. Croix



Northern EDGE Profiles of Best Practices Showcase

These best practices serve to illustrate examples of opportunities that have been seized and have succeeded in 29 northern counties and other counties in the state of Wisconsin. They promise to act as an economic and workforce development resource that demonstrates “what’s working” throughout northern Wisconsin, and also offer best practices that may be replicated in other areas throughout the region.  While some stories may appear modest in scale to others, Northern EDGE recognizes each profile as a demonstration of a particular community’s achievement in building upon pre-existing capacity and resources and, in some cases, crating capacity and resources from scratch.

For information on what makes a profile eligible or a copy of the submissions form, please contact the center at

Profiles Within the Northern EDGE Region

Ashland County

Bayfield County

Burnett County

Chippewa County

 Douglas County

Eau Claire County

Florence County

Forest County

Iron County

Langlade County

Marathon County

Oneida County

St. Croix County

Sawyer County

Shawano County

Taylor County

Vilas County

Washburn County

Profiles located outside of the Northern EDGE Region

Grant County

Sauk County

Portage County

Juneau County

South Central Wisconsin Region

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Northern EDGE Market Studies

The Northern EDGE Market Studies component provides community-specific and/or industry-targeted findings and products to assist businesses, communities and elected officials with economic and workforce development decisions and market strategies.  It promotes informed decision-making to advance successful economic and workforce development efforts by filling data gaps.  These regional studies focus on labor-shed analysis, regional cluster analysis, wage and income growth analysis, and entrepreneurial opportunity and readiness analysis.  This research intends to provide community specific, industry targeted data that help guide economic and workforce decisions.

One of the resources available are maps depicting the three-digit NAICS industry categories, a industry classification created by the U.S. Census.  Below are national maps showing the strength of the industry within each county.  A complete listing of the NAICS codes can be found on the U.S. Census Website.

11 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
113 Forestry and Logging
114 Fishing, Hunting and Trapping
115 Support Activitiesfor Agriculture and Forestry

21 Mining
211 Oil and Gas Extraction
212 Mining (except Oil and Gas)
213 Support Activities for Mining

22 Utilities
221 Utilities

23 Construction
233 Building, Developing, and General Contracting
234 Heavy Construction
235 Special Trade Contractors

31-33 Manufacturing
311 Food Manufacturing
312 Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing
313 Textile Mills
314 Textile Product Mills
315 Apparel Manufacturing
316 Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
321 Wood Product Manufacturing
322 Paper Manufacturing
323 Printing and Related Support Activities
324 Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
325 Chemical Manufacturing
326 Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
327 Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
331 Primary Metal Manufacturing
332 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
333 Machinery Manufacturing
334 Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
335 Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing
336 Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
337 Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
339 Miscellaneous Manufacturing

42 Wholesale Trade
421Wholesale Trade, Durable Goods
422 Wholesale Trade, Nondurable Goods

44-45 Retail Trade
441 Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers
442 Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores
443 Electronics and Appliance Stores
444 Building Material and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers
445 Food and Beverage Stores
446 Health and Personal Care Stores
447 Gasoline Stations
448 Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores
451 Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book, and Music Stores
452 General Merchandise Stores
453 Miscellaneous Store Retailers
454 Nonstore Retailers

Additional Resources

Includes staff papers and analysis tools.

Staff Papers

Clusters: An Economic Development StrategyPaul Roback, UW-Extension, Ozaukee County (PDF)

Data Sources and Tools for Analyzing Industry Clusters

County Business Patterns – U.S. Census Bureau – Yearly data on number of establishments and employees by industry. Industries are classified by NAICS starting in 1998 and by SIC for 1997 and earlier.

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (ES202) – Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development – Industry Employment and Wages for the State and Counties. NAICS based query back to 1990. Updated Quarterly.

Location Quotient Calculator – Bureau of Labor Statistics – Creates tables of private sector employment data by industry. The calculator allows the ready comparison of relative employment levels in the United States , states, counties, and Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).

Shift-Share Analysis of Regional Employment – University of Georgia – On-line tool that will perform a shift-share analysis of year-to-year changes in employment among 11 major industry categories. Analysis can be performed for a single county, a group of counties, or entire states.

Regional Economic Accounts – Bureau of Labor Statistics – Data on incomes, wages, and employment by industry. Yearly data between 1969 and 2003 is reported for the United States , states, counties and MSAs.

Quarterly Workforce Indicators – Local Employment Dynamics, U.S. Census Bureau – Quarterly data on employment, new hires, job creation, turnover and earnings. For those participating states, data is reported on an NAICS basis for states, counties, and workforce development areas

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Fund for New Initiatives

Fund for New Initiatives supports local organizations and municipalities throughout northern Wisconsin to pilot collaborative business, economic and workforce development initiatives.   In late fall of 2002, twenty-six organizations submitted project proposals for Northern EDGE’s Fund for New Initiatives.   The projets used several strategies to achieve the intended development.  Among of these strategies were:

Growing & Expanding Existing Area Business : This strategy focuses on channeling resources to existing area businesses in order to expand operations and increase higher wage jobs from within the existing economic base. Some approaches under this strategy may focus on projects to create a formal business retention and/or expansion study, projects to create or enhance a downtown revitalization program, or projects to maximize opportunities from existing industry clusters

Stimulating Entrepreneurship : This strategy focuses on channeling resources to foster new business start-ups.   Some approaches under this strategy include projects that create and/or expand a business development program, projects that support the creation and/or expansion of a small business incubator, or projects that support the creation of investment networks.

Attracting New Businesses : This strategy focuses on channeling resources in order to induce businesses to relocate to the area.   Some approaches under this strategy may focus on projects that identify local strengths and opportunities for business attraction, or projects that identify what entities are involved in business attraction, or projects that develop market-specific recruitment programs.

Capturing Outside Dollars :   This strategy focuses on bringing financial resources to a community from individuals, businesses, or government outside of the community.   Some approaches under this strategy may focus on projects that bring in outside consumer dollars, or projects that bring in federal funding for economic development, housing or infrastructure.

 Attracting Financial Resources : This strategy focuses on attracting financial resources in general.   An approach under this strategy may include projects that utilize municipal financing such as TIF or BID districts.

Building Community Economic Development Capacity : This strategy focuses on building the non-physical infrastructure within a community that is necessary for economic development efforts.   An approach under this strategy may include projects that develop partnerships for a particular goal, or projects that facilitate leadership development and/or economic development workshops and conferences.

Engaging in Community Development Activities :   This strategy focuses on investing in social issues and quality of life issues in a community.   An approach under this strategy may include projects that focus on programming and/or services for youth and/or adults, or projects dealing with recreation, healthcare, childcare, or housing.

Increasing the Efficiency of Public Goods and Services : This strategy focuses on improving public services as the groundwork for economic development.   An approach under this strategy may include projects that involve the use of underutilized land or facilities, or improvement of multi-modal transportation.

Maximizing Worker Development :   This strategy focuses on building a community’s labor force skills.   An approach under this strategy may include projects that invest in human capital, or projects that create worker training programs, or projects that create linkages between educational institutions and businesses.

A review team consisting of five representatives from the University of Wisconsin and University of Wisconsin-Extension evaluated proposals.  Each proposal was assessed according to a number of factors such as project innovation, prospective community benefits and economic condition impacts, and demonstrated linkages with other business, economic or workforce development organizations and/or efforts.  Based on the review team decisions, fifteen projects were selected.   It is expected that these projects will contribute to the “best practices” in the region.

Projects accepted by County:

Ashland County

  • Ashland Downtown Revitalization, Recruitment, Retention Project

Bayfield County

  • Spring into Spring

Burnett County

  • Work & Play Campaign

Chippewa County

  • Momentum Chippewa Valley Angel Investing Network

Forest County

  • Creation of an Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in Forest County
  • Recreation Trail Development in Forest County

Iron County

  • Market/Location Study for a New Industrial Building

Lincoln County

  • The Business & Education Coalition Project

Oneida County

  • Minocqua Winter Park

St. Croix County

  • Building Internal Communications Technology

Sawyer County

  • Analyzing Out-migration of Sawyer County Youth & Steps to Reverse Trend

Shawano County

  • Shawano Area Business Retention & Expansion Study

Vilas County

  • Vilas Institute for Leadership & Sustainability: Vilas Vision

Washburn County

  • Downtown Market Analysis: Training & Technical Assistance for the Northwest
  • Industrial Labor Pool Development

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Northern EDGE Partners

Northern EDGE relies on participation from Lead Partners and Collaborating Partners.

Lead Partners include:

  • Northern Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Community Resource Development Agents and County Office Chairs/Directors,
  • Northern Wisconsin Continuing Education Extension Deans and Directors and Outreach Program Managers from the UW System Campuses in Northern Wisconsin ,
  • Northern Wisconsin Small Business Development Center Directors and Counselors.

Individuals from these groups provide project management and coordination at the local level.

Collaborating Partners include:

  • Chambers of Commerce,
  • Department of Workforce Development,
  • Public utilities,
  • Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs),
  • State of Wisconsin Department of Commerce area development managers,
  • Tribal Colleges,
  • U.S. Department of Labor,
  • Wisconsin Economic and Development Association (WEDA),
  • Wisconsin Technical College Campuses,
  • Workforce Investment and Development Boards (WIBs & WDBs),Representatives take part in county collaborations, help to set agendas, and participate in decision-making review teams for the Profiles of Best Practices and Fund for New Initiatives components.

Experts in a range of issue areas joined the Northern EDGE Advisory Council , which acts as a consultative body for Northern EDGE. Members include:

Agriculture – Ted Johnson
Banking – Gene Knoll
Economic Development – Brad Zweck
Education – Virginia Helm
Energy – Linda Clark
Forestry/Paper – Butch Johnson
Labor – Dale Carlson
Manufacturing – Al Toma
Legislature – State Senator Russell Decker
Legislature – State Senator Sheila Harsorf
Technology – Allen Mahnke
Tourism – Kim Swisher
UW Extension – Robin Shepard












This material was prepared by Greg Wise.

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