Economic summit focuses on Northwoods

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WAOW) — Northwoods economic development was at the forefront of a summit  on Monday.

Dozens gathered at Nicolet College in Rhinelander to hear from presenters. Topics ranged from manufacturing trends to rural and farm trends.

Presenters say there’s a lot of opportunity in northeast Wisconsin. However, the area is growing slower than the state’s overall rate of growth. At the same time, Wisconsin’s economic growth rate is slower than that of the national economy.

Ron Wirtz, a Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis representative, said it’s important to gauge how local communities are doing.

“We’re trying to do a better job of coming to regions,” said Wirtz. “Talking to businesses. Presenting at conferences. So we can not only present what we know about the economy, but, equally important, to hear from business owners and other people who have lots of contact with businesses. We get a lot of reinforcement about how we think the economy is going, but we learn an awful lot about the nuance of every community.”

Wirtz added that the biggest barrier to increased economic development in the Northwoods is the workforce shortage. That, he said, has no single solution.

“There’s certainly no silver bullet. There are lots of things to help encourage more people that are already here to work more,” said Wirtz. “It might have to do with better childcare availability. It could also have to do with workforce training programs to give people the skills to match the jobs that are available.”

Curtis Aderholdt

Curtis Aderholdt

A WAOW photo journalist since December 2014.

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