Thrive Rural Wisconsin

This new initiative of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Office of Rural Prosperity is a way for rural and tribal communities to bring together local leadership, set common goals in a neutral and facilitated structure, and access resources that will help them take action on those goals. Provided at no cost to communities, the Thrive Rural Wisconsin program brings project management, financial support, and technical assistance to advance housing, community economic development, community facilities, and sustainable energy projects and connects them to the resources they need to be successful.


County economic development organizations, nonprofits, and tribal organizations that are based in communities of 10,000 people or fewer are eligible to apply for the Thrive Rural Wisconsin initiative, so long as they are not located in a county that contains a Metropolitan Statistical Area (i.e., an urban area of 50,000 or more inhabitants). The selection process will give priority to communities and organizations located in a county that appears on the FY24 Wisconsin Distressed Counties List.

Communities must propose a project that advances at least one of the Thrive Rural Wisconsin focus areas:

  • Community-based economic development
  • Small business development
  • Rural housing
  • Community facilities
  • Sustainable energy projects
  • Organizational and financial management

Communities should identify a specific individual to be the point of contact for this project; this person should be supported by a leadership team and should be
prepared to seek and manage significant amounts of funding (e.g., from $50,000 up to $1 million). Communities must demonstrate readiness and community buy-in, and should document that a project leverages applicable resources. They must be willing to develop and execute a work plan that moves proposed projects forward within a two-year timespan (January 2024-December 2025).

Benefits and support

The benefits participants will receive include:

  • A community assessment
  • Work plan development for priority projects
  • Project management support
  • Fundraising mapping and funding identification
  • Grant writing consulting (process guidance, review, etc.)
  • Creation of customized toolkits and resources to build capacity in grant writing, grant compliance, or Thrive Rural focus areas
  • Referrals to consultants, state agencies, and federal programs that help advance the projects identified in the work plan
  • Exclusive invitation to apply for predevelopment grants (of up to $25,000 per year for up to two years) to advance a project and prepare for state and federal grant applications (with possible uses including feasibility studies, architectural renderings, engineering studies, mapping, business plans, curriculum design, and more)*

* WEDC will award these predevelopment grants to up to 10 eligible partners of Thrive Rural Wisconsin. Grant applications will only be accepted from eligible partners that are invited to apply. No community is guaranteed to receive a grant.

Webinar recording

View the webinar below or download the slide deck from the presentation.

Download answers to questions raised during the informational webinar and through calls and emails from communities.

Thrive Rural Wisconsin webinar

For more information, please contact:

David Fleming Sr.
Project Specialist
WEDC Office of Rural Prosperity

Beth Haskovec
WEDC Office of Rural Prosperity

Download PDF


This opportunity is currently closed