Who We Are

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Building Rural Communities

As part of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the Office of Rural Prosperity seeks to foster vibrant, prosperous and resilient rural communities across Wisconsin. We aim to be a one-stop shop to help rural stakeholders navigate programs and resources serving rural communities and businesses.

The Office of Rural Prosperity was formed in January 2020, along with Governor Tony Evers’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity. The commission was charged with gathering public input on the long-term, recent and future economic challenges facing Wisconsin’s rural communities. The role of the Office of Rural Prosperity is to increase economic activity and improve the quality of life for future generations of rural Wisconsinites by putting the ideas and input gathered by the commission into action.

Promoting rural infographic

Who We Serve

Wisconsin’s rural landscape is integral to our state’s identity, both for the quality of life it affords its residents and for the escape it offers to those seeking to partake of Wisconsin’s natural splendor. Maintaining the vibrancy of Wisconsin’s rural economies requires an understanding of the diversity of its industries, from agricultural production and working forests to main street businesses. The variety of rural Wisconsin’s economic assets must be reflected in a coordinated statewide approach to building and maintaining rural prosperity throughout the state.

Our Support Organizations

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), its economic development partners and other organizations around the state offer a range of resources on all aspects of economic well-being, from childcare and education to businesses and housing. The support organizations listed here have all contributed programs to our resource directory.

Our Team

Beth Haskovec

Beth Haskovec

Director of the Office of Rural Prosperity

Beth joins WEDC from LISC, one of the nation’s largest community development financial institutions, where she oversaw strategies and programs related to access to capital for small businesses across rural America, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She brings to the team a wealth of expertise in commercial real estate development, commercial corridor development, small business capital, entrepreneurship and initiatives at the intersection of arts and culture and economic development. Learn more about Beth.

Kietra Olson

Kietra Olson

Rural Initiatives Manager

Kietra grew up in the pines, prairies and pastures of Wisconsin. She brings extensive experience of coalition building, placemaking, community engagement and sustainability. She has a background in natural resources, micro-business marketing, and sustainable agriculture and has a deep interest in celebrating the culture and stories of rural Wisconsin. Learn more about Kietra.

David Fleming Sr.

David “Waabigekek” Fleming Sr.

Rural Development Specialist

David “Waabigekek” Fleming Sr., (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe) has over 25 years of experience working in rural communities as a business leader and economic development professional. David is an alumnus of University of Wisconsin-Superior and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with experience in community development finance, small business loan funds, and, most recently, post-secondary education.  David and his family have lived in northern Wisconsin their entire lives. Learn more about David.

Jim Cleveland

James Cleveland

Rural Development Specialist

Jim Cleveland has a diverse career path that began in finance after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1989. After holding a variety of roles in the banking industry, in 2007 Jim made a career change, spending eight years in a workforce development position with the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce, then moving on to the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation, where he provided technical assistance to communities and originated loans ranging from $5,000 to $4 million on projects totaling up to $24 million. Prior to joining WEDC, Jim was employed as a project manager for a local steel fabricator. Jim is married with three adult children and one grandchild. He enjoys spending time at his family cabin in the Three Lakes area and hiking in the Nicolet National Forest. Learn more about Jim in this post.