September 2022

Director’s Message

Beth-Haskovec-Staff-Bio-200sq.jpgOver the past two months, I’ve been thinking a lot about kitchen table talk—passionate conversations around the table with friends, family and co-conspirators in life to explore and make sense of issues and challenges that affect our communities. The Blue Ribbon Commission Report serves as a North Star for the Office of Rural Prosperity's (ORP's) work and was born out of those types of kitchen table conversations with rural advocates from across the state who know best what it will take to advance prosperity in their communities.

ORP has taken the wisdom and guidance of those kitchen table conversations and has begun to put recommendations into action over the last 18 months. We’ve made it easier to navigate state and federal resources through the creation of and partnered with the U.S. Economic Development Administration to enhance grassroots support to rural communities to navigate resources through our specialists with the Revitalizing Economic Vibrancy After a Major Pandemic (REVAMP) program.

At my kitchen table, I’ve had the privilege to meet (virtually) and learn from the talented and passionate ORP team about the important work the office has been doing the past two years. I’ve sat in on inter-agency meetings to strategize with colleagues across state government about how we can maximize resources in service of rural development by building the capacity of rural municipalities to access competitive funding to enhance community projects through the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. I’ve been invited into conversations with economic development professionals, nonprofit partners and rural citizens to continue to move important projects forward for rural Wisconsin.

It is an exciting time to have joined ORP as its director. I look forward to building upon the wisdom and guidance that served as a framework for this office—and to working with rural stakeholders like you to advance great ideas for rural Wisconsin. Over the coming months, there will be many more virtual calls from my kitchen table, as well as opportunities to visit communities across Wisconsin to meet with stakeholders at conference tables, coffee tables and kitchen tables in person. Together we can be co-creators of a more thriving and prosperous rural Wisconsin.

Beth Haskovec
Director, Office of Rural Prosperity


Featured Resources

Green Tier Legacy Communities

Working from a core list of best management practices, members focus on improving their communities’ efforts in transportation, land use, energy, waste, water conservation and public health.

Brownfield Site Assessment Grants

Grant funds to assist local governments with conducting initial environmental assessment and demolition activities on an eligible abandoned, idle or underutilized industrial or commercial site.

Economic Development Administration Program

This program assists tribes in planning and implementing economic development strategies derived from their own comprehensive development planning.

Creation and Presentation Grant Program

​​​​​​Creation and Presentation Program (CPP) grants provide artistic program and operational support to established nonprofit arts organizations whose primary mission is to create or present ongoing arts programming that makes a significant local, regional or statewide impact on the cultural life of Wisconsin and that furthers the Arts Board’s community development and arts education goals.


Child care in rural Wisconsin: Challenges, a crossroads and hopeful opportunities

by Ruth Schmidt
Executive Director, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association

At Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA), we know child care access and affordability are critical for Wisconsin’s workforce productivity and growth, particularly in rural Wisconsin. Employers and economic leaders are becoming more vocal about child care as the economic ripple effect of the broken private business model and continued lack of resources becomes more and more apparent.

Over the past year, WECA has hosted employer-legislator forums across Wisconsin and has heard countless stories of child care access and affordability challenges. 

Read more


Meet your neighbor,
Kietra Olson

Kietra Olson lives in the house she grew up in, a two-story, timber frame home between Middleton and Cross Plains, in the unincorporated community of Ashton.

It’s not that she never left. Kietra attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, earned her bachelor’s degree in science and natural resources from UW-Stevens Point, and then lived on Madison’s northeast side for several years.

But when her parents decided to downsize and sell the country home they had built, Kietra snapped it up. “I missed seeing the stars at night and hearing the coyotes in the woods,” she says. “I never thought I’d move back, but it’s been the best.”

Not only does the home keep Kietra close to her roots, it provides plenty of space to run for Mürren, her Bernese mountain dog—named after a Swiss mountain village, a place that Kietra and her family visited years ago.

Read more


Time is running out to register!

Time is running out to join hundreds of other Wisconsin business and industry leaders, economic-development professionals, and academics at the first-ever Wisconsin Economic Summit.

Summit highlights:

  • Perspectives on Wisconsin’s Economy Today - with a panel of experts with diverse viewpoints
  • Wisconsin Ambassadors - perspectives from the new generation of business leaders
  • Keynote speaker Rebecca Ryan - a top 50 futurist, economist and best-selling author
  • Discussions devoted to workforce solutions, clean energy & climate change, and business competitiveness and automation

Complete details including the agenda, speakers and accommodation information is available on our website.

Register today!


Rural Partners Network (RPN) program is hiring in Wisconsin

The Rural Partners Network introduces a new way of doing business: a collaboration among federal agencies meant to improve access to government resources, staffing and tools. Participating agencies designate key points of contact who focus specifically on rural strategies, improving visibility and attention to rural issues.

The Rural Partners Network also puts federal staff on the ground to support designated, economically challenged communities. Known as “supervisory community planners,” these federal employees provide local leaders with the expertise to navigate federal programs. They help build relationships and identify additional resources to get the job done. As their work progresses, the lessons learned will impact future federal rural policy development and investment strategies.

There are two positions currently available (Position 1 and Position 2). The deadline for applications is Sept. 20, 2022.

Supper clubs: A Wisconsin tradition

We asked our team to select their favorite supper club in rural Wisconsin. 

David prefers the Chippewa Inn in Hayward while Jerry favors Green Acres in Sauk City. Both Beth and Dana gives a thumbs up to the Black Angus in Prairie du Chien while Kietra raves about The Edgewater in Jefferson. Danielle doesn't have a favorite yet but is willing to keep trying until she finds one!

Looking for a supper club in your neck of the woods? This website lists over 260.

Grant opportunities available now

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

Wisconsin Cooperative Feasibility Grant
The WCFG Program is designed to support the success of current and future cooperatives by allowing them to explore all facets of their business before large investments are made. Deadline: Oct. 15, 2022

Wisconsin Help For Homeowners
​Wisconsin Help for Homeowners (WHH) is a statewide program that can help with overdue bills like mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities and more.

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