October 2022

Director’s message


One of my favorite childhood memories was helping my dad pick the pumpkins and gourds from our garden and set up little fall displays each October. As an adult, since I no longer have such easy access to his master gardener skills, instead I get my pumpkin fix at one of the many pumpkin patches in Southeastern Wisconsin. 

Outdoor recreation is core to the economies and livelihoods of much of Rural Wisconsin. In fact, Wisconsin established the Office of Outdoor Recreation, which is dedicated to uplifting the $8 billion industry that supports 93,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Rural stakeholders have lauded the access to state resources and information the office provides.

Fall is the perfect season to get outdoors and explore the natural beauty, agricultural abundance and cultural heritage of our rural communities. This month’s newsletter features some of our favorite ways to enjoy fall in rural Wisconsin and highlights programs that help us protect the natural resources that drive the tourism and outdoor recreation industries in our state.

My personal recommendations for exploring rural Wisconsin this fall include:

Happy exploring,

Beth Haskovec
Director, Office of Rural Prosperity


Featured resources

Building a Better America

Access a guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for state, local, tribal and territorial governments and other partners.

Connect Communities Program

Join a network of local leaders interested in revitalizing their downtown or urban commercial districts to benefit from networking opportunities and technical assistance.

Ready for Reuse Loan and Grant Program

Ready for Reuse loans and grants are used for environmental cleanup of hazardous substances or petroleum at brownfields throughout Wisconsin.

Agricultural Producer Security

This program provides a level of assurance that producers of milk, vegetables and grain will be paid for the products they sell and that grain in storage is properly cared for.


Pay as You Save: A forward-looking model for home retrofits

by Claire Cowan
Director of Program Design and Delivery, Slipstream

Old and inefficient houses can create excessive energy bills and deepen homeowners’ financial burden for homeowners. The Voices for Rural Prosperity Report captured the need for more alternative and affordable energy solutions for rural Wisconsinites. A partnership between Slipstream and EEtility offers a unique opportunity to lower the up-front costs of energy upgrades.

Read more


Meet your neighbor,
Danielle Jones

Danielle Jones has lived in cities around the U.S. and in Europe, but it wasn’t until she came to Wisconsin that she felt she was home.

“There is something about Wisconsin that is kind of magical,” she says . “It can be the view of the landscape or someone I’ve met. I was at a meeting in northern Wisconsin and walked into a restaurant to meet someone for dinner and the person saw me, spun around and gave me a big ‘hello,’ like he’d known me all his life. You can go anywhere in rural Wisconsin and this is how you’re greeted. I love that,” she said.

Read more


Small Community Forums

Over half of Wisconsin’s cities and villages are communities of fewer than 2,500 residents. Despite their large number, these small communities represent a wide variety of geographic and economic areas within the state. Because of their small size, these municipalities have unique issues and needs that are often very different from those of larger communities.

The eleventh annual series of Small Community Forums will be held in four locations in October and November, to allow residents in these communities to come together, address common issues, network, share best practices, and identify strategies to address shared concerns. Representatives from many state and regional resource partners will be on hand to connect with attendees and provide guidance on specific concerns introduced during the sessions.

The fee for each forum is $20, which includes materials, morning coffee and muffins, and lunch. Current public health guidelines in each community will be followed.

The 2022 Small Community Forums are made possible through a coalition of statewide agencies and organizations involved in rural community development:

  • Create Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's Office of Rural Prosperity
  • Wisconsin Main Street Program
  • Wisconsin Downtown Action Council
  • Wisconsin Rural Partners
  • UW-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
  • and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development.

Contact Anne Katz at akatz@createwisconsin.org with questions.

Register today:



Friday, Oct. 28
7:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Orfordville Village Hall
Local host: Village of Orfordville


Tuesday, Nov. 1
7:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative
Local host: Rosholt Area Business Association


Thursday, Nov. 3
7:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
The Club
Local host: Washburn Chamber of Commerce


Tuesday, Nov. 15
7:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Reedsville Fire Station
Local host: Village of Reedsville
Staff picks: State parks and forests

We asked our team to select their favorite state park or forest for recreation. 

Jerry favors the cliffs at Devil's Lake State Park in Sauk County while Beth is fond of the sand dunes at Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County. Dana prefers the stunning views from the trails of Hixon Forest in La Crosse County while Kietra cannot wait to get back to Copper Falls State Park in Ashland County. Danielle enjoys the trails and prairie restoration at Governor Nelson State Park in Dane County.

Grant opportunities

Take a moment to review some of these important grant opportunities available to you.

Department of Transportation
Programs can provide financial assistance to local governments, along with other public and private entities, to make a variety of improvements to highways, airports, harbors, bike, rail and pedestrian facilities.

Wisconsin State Park System
​Several grant programs are available to Friends Groups projects that support the mission and activities at Wisconsin State Park System properties.

Community Connect Grant
​This grant program looks to open for applications sometime in December or January, typically for 60 days or so, then closes until the next funding cycle.
This program has very different regulations and focus than the current, more complex, ReConnect 4 program. Now is a good time to get up to speed on the basics. Please remember to use the latest application material when it does open, as there may be changes to the program from last year.


Interested in hearing more from us?


We're always adding to our resource directory, covering new initiatives and sharing success stories from around the state.

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Office of Rural Prosperity
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
201 W. Washington Avenue, Suite 1801, Madison, WI 53703