Behind the Business of Luring Business
Chippewa County (WQOW) - As unemployed Americans struggle to find work, the communities they live in have also struggled to bring in new jobs. Friday, we're taking a closer look at what one local county does to lure new businesses and jobs for the families who live there.
A national trade magazine helps companies scope out new locations. Right on page 53 of a recent issue: an ad for Chippewa County. It lists reasons to do business there.
"We call it the 'product,' says Charlie Walker. “What is Chippewa's product? Our product is our ready industrial park, our infrastructure. We sell that."
Charlie Walker heads the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, which placed the ad in the trade magazine. The organization works to bring in new companies and keep existing ones.
"How do you get customers? You advertise," Walker says. "You have to go where the market's at. You have to tell them that you're open for business, that you have the product that they might need."
Ads, trade shows and visits with business owners and consultants help "sell" Chippewa County to possible future employers.
"We actually ran a direct mail piece to Illinois," Walker says. "You can recall when Illinois raised their taxes and every company was talking about bailing out of Illinois. We did a target market [mailing] there to Illinois."
Selling points include the county's dual railroad lines, central location and possible tax credits from the state.
"Not just the city of Chippewa Falls is being included in economic development but all of the communities--Boyd, New Auburn, Cornell, Stanley," says Teresa Isensee, chair of the economic development corporation's board.
At any given time, the organization is in talks with 10 to 25 potential businesses, answering their questions and trying to beat competitors.
"The competition in economic development since the Great Recession has been heavy," Walker says. "Outside Wisconsin, our competition--which is Iowa, Minnesota, even Illinois--they've put more financial resources behind the marketing of economic development."
The Great Recession also makes their work all the more important. Successes, like helping SGI relocate all its manufacturing here, bring jobs.
The "selling" of Chippewa County continues.
"To make sure that our county is recognized, that we keep everybody here," Isensee says. "We have a great place to live and great place to work."
There are a number of other economic development organizations in Western Wisconsin, including in Eau Claire, Dunn County and Rusk County.