Florence County Project Selected for Wisconsin Top Rural Development Initiative Honors

April 19, 2018

Robert T. Borremans

Wisconsin Rural Partners

EDGERTON – Three community development projects received a 2018 Wisconsin Top Rural Development Initiative award. The award was presented by Wisconsin Rural Partners at the Wisconsin Rural Summit held April 18-19, 2018 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in West Baraboo.

“Wisconsin Rural Partners (WRP) applauds the initiatives recognized as outstanding examples of the many local efforts to improve the lives of citizens in rural Wisconsin,” said Sandy Decker, WRP board member and award committee spokesperson. “These projects are notable for showcasing the variety and breadth of successful local efforts to enhance the quality of life in the rural areas of our state.”

The three projects receiving Top Rural Development Initiative awards are:

•Florence County Broadband Expansion Project
•Advance Shullsburg
•Southwest Partners

The Florence County Broadband Expansion Project was selected for its concerted efforts to obtain eighteen financial partners, including the county, regional technical college, area school district, five town governments, businesses, community organizations, and citizens, as well as contributors from neighboring counties, to meet the monetary match required to submit a broadband expansion grant application. The successful grant award has significant, wide-ranging impacts on businesses, students, emergency services, enhanced delivery of medical treatment, government efficiency, and lasting improvements to the lives of Florence County residents.

Advance Shullsburg was recognized for its successful implementation of components of a multi-pronged plan to accomplish downtown revitalization, increase tourism, provide additional residential housing choices, and enhance community vitality. The efforts showcase the effective use of collaborations with other organizations to reach identified goals for the betterment of the community.

Southwest Partners was recognized for its effective use of citizen-driven partnerships to identify and address quality of life issues and needs in the Richland County area. Over 300 local individuals, collaborating with governments, businesses and civic organizations, contributed to the successes of Southwest Partners. Examples of projects are development of the Career Education Cooperative, an apprenticeship program for high school students to encourage young adults to return to their home communities to live and work, and creation of the Community Prosperity Alliance, a public-private partnership for area economic development. A current project is establishment of “safe routes”, providing bike and walking trails to rural schools.

Wisconsin Rural Partners (WRP) is the state’s federally-designated rural development council. Committed to improving the quality of life in rural Wisconsin, WRP is a non-partisan forum for identifying, discussing, and addressing rural issues. Through collaborations with a wide array of partners, including local, county, state, tribal, and federal governments, as well as for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations, WRP fosters and promotes locally-based solutions to rural needs and issues.

This is the eighteenth year that WRP has recognized Wisconsin’s Top Rural Development Initiatives. “The program is designed to identify, highlight, and share innovative models, practices and programs that have a positive impact on rural Wisconsin communities,” said Errin Welty, WRP president. “WRP created the program to provide a mechanism for rural communities to learn from each other and we are pleased to report that many of the award winners are still actively operating in their communities.”

Additional information about Wisconsin rural Partners and the Top Rural Development Initiatives can be found at www.wiruralpartners.org.

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