This program is aimed to build relationships with businesses, identify companies at risk, and provide assistance with growth opportunities. The desired outcome is a gauge of the health of the local economy and identification of barriers to marketplace expansion, as well as feedback to improve economic development policies and strategies. The City of La Crosse is partnering with the 7 Rivers Alliance, who will function as the program manager, and will work with other local public and non-profit volunteers to meet with businesses for one-on-one interviews and data collection. This program targeted manufacturing and composite industries during the initial round of interviews scheduled to launch late 2013 – early 2014.
Why does this initiative target certain sectors?
- Global companies' average worker wage are $16,000 higher.
- Manufacturing and other companies with a national customer base bring in fresh money to the region that then circulates to their suppliers and employees who then spend it elsewhere in our regional economy.
- Fluctuations in top employers' employment have the greatest impact, positive and negative, on our economy
- A higher than national average of food processing companies in the region, in part because of our high concentration of organic farming. We want to monitor these companies to retain our competitive advantage
- The metal manufacturing industry, while it still is experiencing losses, is not experiencing losses as significantly as in other areas across the nation. This means there is a competitive advantage held by metal manufacturers in this area that is tied to their high level of innovation. If we can help them keep their competitive advantage, we stand a chance to retain these employers.
- Composites is an industry still in its infancy. It is highly innovative, with ways to change boats, airplanes, and more in ways yet to be discovered. Our region gives them competitive advantage by having 14 companies in the region, which supports Winona State University creating the nation’s only undergraduate composite materials engineering program. Growth in our composites companies means they have captured a larger customer base and can support their high-paying, higher skilled jobs.
Why are the 7 Rivers Alliance and public and non-profit organizations involved in this program?
The mission of the 7 Rivers Alliance and partner organizations is to boosts economic growth by fostering collaboration in western Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, and northeast Iowa. By keeping communication open and developing regional networks in the Upper Mississippi Valley through regional meetings and networking events, the 7 Rivers Alliance brings together public and private resources to forge entrepreneurial growth and serves as a clearinghouse of vital information to enhance quality of life in the region. Results of this program will assist government entities to make more educated decisions on how to allocate resources and how their decisions impact businesses. They will also be able to work collaboratively with other communities facing similar barriers to growth.