Rural Prosperity Projects

Projects to Enhance Rural Initiatives


In Fall 2020, WEDC partnered with Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to launch the Broadband Connectors Pilot, a new broadband technical assistance initiative.

In Fall 2020, WEDC and PSC joined forces to address the significant need for broadband expansion and launch the Broadband Connectors Pilot, a new broadband technical assistance initiative. The goal of the pilot was to provide selected communities with broadband technical assistance so they are better prepared to apply for federal, state, and private-sector broadband expansion funds.

Local governments, tribal governments, and school districts were eligible to apply for the pilot. In total, 96 communities submitted applications, demonstrating the significant need for assistance. Pilot communities were selected based on the following criteria:

  • The community has taken some initial steps toward broadband expansion,
  • Diverse community partners have committed to working together on broadband expansion,
  • The community has a clear vision for the technical assistance they are seeking, and
  • The community seeks to expand broadband in an underserved or unserved area.

A selection committee identified six communities to join the pilot cohort:

  • Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
  • Ho-Chunk Nation
  • School District of Owen-Withee
  • Town of Cross
  • St Croix County
  • Fond du Lac County

Wisconsin Environmental Equity Tool

It’s vital for state government to target resources towards communities most in need. While tools exist to assess socioeconomic need, programs lack an easily accessible, interactive tool that accounts for both socioeconomic and environmental health burdens at the census tract level. The creation of a climate equity map will help identify tracts—rural and urban—most in need of resources and investment. In collaboration with other state agencies and the UW system, this project will provide vital information as new initiatives develop to improving prosperity in rural Wisconsin, low-income communities of color, tribal communities, and environmental protection. Learn more here.

Forest Products Industry Diversification

Wisconsin’s forest industry plays a critical role in supporting the sustainable management of the state’s 17 million acres of forest land, which cover 46% of the state’s total area. The industry has a substantial potential for growth and presents opportunities for investment. This project is a cross-sector collaboration aimed at engaging stakeholders across Wisconsin’s forest products economy to identify priorities that will help the state better understand, enhance, and capitalize on existing timber industries and establish new market opportunities for Wisconsin’s forest products. Due to the forest industry’s contributions to the state economy, it is important that the industry receives the necessary support and investment to enable it to thrive sustainably.

The Wisconsin Council on Forestry and its partners, at the request of Governor Tony Evers, initiated this collaborative process to facilitate a Regional Economic Development Summit (REDS) with the goal of helping the state better understand and capitalize on enhancing existing timber industries and establishing new market opportunities for Wisconsin’s forest products. Through REDS, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) works directly with stakeholders to leverage and align federal, state, and local project implementation resources for specific economic development strategies and priorities.