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  • 12 Apr 2023 5:00 AM | Anonymous

    Four projects, Wisconsin Women in Conservation, Antigo Child Care Center, UW-Eau Claire Small Business Clinics, and The Meadows in Darlington, have been selected to receive Wisconsin Rural Partners’ 2023 Top Rural Development Initiative awards. The awards will be presented at the Wisconsin Rural Partners (WRP) 2023 Rural Summit in Mauston on April 27.

    Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC) is a collaborative project that established a community of women landowners/farmers in the state interested in land stewardship. Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Renewing the Countryside, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Marbleseed, and USDA-NRCS Wisconsin partnered to create WiWiC. The organization provides a safe space to share, connect, learn and network among women peers. Since its inception in 2020, more than 2000 women have engaged in program elements, including in-person gatherings, a Listserv, e-newsletter, and webinars. The organization’s goal is development of individual land conservation plans by the women. To date, 44 conservation plans have been completed and 60 are in the pipeline.

    The Antigo Child Center was established by a mom who had lost daycare necessary for her employment. Working with the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation, Antigo Housing Authority, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Childcaring, the building was secured and renovated. A community-supported Go Fund Me campaign helped purchase playground equipment and supplies. A serious issue for childcare programs is the long-term financial sustainability of the business. The Center addressed this problem by putting together a Tiered Partnership agreement with employers. Businesses support the Center with a monthly stipend, providing discounts to partner employers’ workers, as well as some funds for staffing/attraction of childcare workers, a farm to table nutrition program, and savings for future school-age programs and Center expansion. The Center is at full capacity and is currently considering expansion.

    UW-Eau Claire Small Business Clinics are an in-person rural outreach initiative developed and run by student consultants at the Small Business Development Center at UW-Eau Claire. The Clinics provide one-on-one technical assistance and resources to Wisconsin rural business owners in the areas of QuickBooks, finance, marketing, general business startup, legal and cybersecurity, among others. Clinics were held in Rice Lake and Abbotsford in 2022 and served 52 clients. Additional clinics are being planned in nearby counties in 2023.

    The Meadows is a new affordable housing community designed to support farm workers. A collaboration of Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP), USDA-Rural Development, Cinnaire Solutions, Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Wisconsin Department of Administration and United Migrant Opportunity Services resulted in construction of a 32-unit complex dedicated to agricultural employees. Utilizing CDBG funding, an adjacent community building is being built with space for childcare, a free health clinic, and a WIC nutrition program to support Meadow residents and their families.

    “Wisconsin Rural Partners applauds these initiatives as outstanding examples of the many efforts across the state that improve the lives of citizens in rural Wisconsin,” said Sandy Decker, WRP president. “These are excellent collaborative models for serving our rural areas.”

    Wisconsin Rural Partners 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, non-profit organizations, and rural citizens, WRP fosters and promotes locally-based solutions to rural needs and issues.

    This is the twenty-third 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 past-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 to benefit our rural communities.”


    For More Information

    Contact: Megan Purtell, telephone - (608) 358-8458; email –

  • 20 Sep 2022 10:20 AM | Anonymous


    Tuesday, September 20, 2022

    Contact: Sandy Decker, President, Wisconsin Rural Partners

    Wisconsin Rural Partners Announce 2022-2023 Board of Directors

    Madison - The Wisconsin Rural Partners (WPR) proudly announces the 2022-2023 Executive Committee and board members.

    Executive Board Members - The WRP Executive Committee was approved by the board of directors for a one year term of President, Sandy Decker, and Vice President, Kenyon Kies. For a two-year term, Treasurer, Kyle Kuntz; and Secretary, Marie Barry.  Board of Directors Board Members elected to a second 2-year term are Seth Hudson, Rebecca Giroux, Errin Welty and Todd Johnson. The WRP welcomes new board members, Kelly Borchardt and Deborah Reinbold to two-year term.

    2022-2023 Board of Directors

    • Sandy Decker, Retired Mayor, Evansville, WI - President
    • Kenyon Kies, Retired, Kies Consulting – Vice President
    • Kyle Kuntz, Vice President Loan Officer, WBD - Treasurer
    • Marie Barry, Director of Community Economic Development, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative - Secretary
    • Kelly Borchardt, Executive Director, Childcaring, Inc.
    • Rebecca Giroux, Community and Economic Development Officer, WHEDA
    • Seth Hudson, E.D.F.P. Executive Director Corporate Relations and Economic Engagement, UW-Stout Discovery Center
    • Todd Johnson, Land Use & Community Development Specialist, University of Wisconsin River Falls (Extension)
    • Deb Reinbold, Interim Executive Director, Thrive
    • Donna Walker, Senior Economic Development Specialist, Dairyland Power Cooperative
    • Errin Welty, CEcD, Senior Director of Downtown Development, WEDC

    USDA Liaison: Jillian Lindholm, Area Director, USDA Rural Development

    About New Board of Directors
    Kelly Borchardt is the Executive Director of Childcaring, Inc., a nonprofit child care resource and referral agency. She has worked for the agency for 17 years, promoting positive outcomes for young children and their families in 10 Central Wisconsin counties. Her current focus is on connecting families with child care services, developing child care professionals, and collecting data that impacts communities. She works to develop solutions to the complex child care challenges in her service delivery area.

    Deborah (Deb) Reinbold is the Interim President of ThriveED. She joined the organization in June of 2020 as Managing Director of Business Development. During her time at the organization, Deb has been an active participant in several business and community organizations, including the Dodge County chapter of SHRM, NAIOP, CARW, Bread Basket Food Pantry and Leadership Watertown. In 2021, she served as a member of the planning committee for the Dodge County SHRM Diversity, Equity and Inclusion conference.

    About WRP: Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. (WRP) serves as a network hub for organizations, government agencies and people working to make rural Wisconsin a better place. ​​We strive through our work to build leadership for the communities of rural Wisconsin.  ​​Through our annual Rural Summit, Small Community Forums, Top Rural Development Initiative awards and other events, we communicate the needs and successes of rural Wisconsin to policy-makers at the local, state and federal levels.


  • 7 Sep 2022 2:24 PM | Anonymous

    Anne Katz, Create Wisconsin,
    September 7, 2022

    Sessions provide participants opportunity to network, share best practices
    and identify strategies for small community success.

    Register at

    Over half of Wisconsin’s cities and villages are communities of fewer than 2,500 residents. Despite their large number, these small communities represent a wide variety of geographic and economic areas within the state. Because of their small size, these municipalities have unique issues and needs that are often very different from those of larger communities.

    The eleventh annual series of Small Community Forums will be held in four locations in October and November, to allow residents in these communities to come together, address common issues, network, share best practices, and identify strategies to address shared concerns. Representatives from many state and regional resource partners will be on hand to connect with attendees and provide guidance on specific concerns introduced during the sessions.

    These convenings are about sharing ideas, learning and networking concerning the health and future of rural Wisconsin.  People interested in small town and rural Wisconsin are invited to attend, including those involved in quality-of-life issues, business, government, education, the nonprofit sector, civic and community development.    Civic leaders, elected officials, volunteers, business leaders, educators, and local and regional economic development associations are encouraged to participate. Case study presentations and resource discussions will focus on infrastructure, partnership, innovation, inclusion in housing, creative economy, childcare, and workforce development, among other issues.

    Hosted by local organization and agency partners, and these statewide organizations:

    • Create Wisconsin
    • League of Wisconsin Municipalities
    • UW-Madison, Division of Extension
    • USDA Rural Development Wisconsin
    • Wisconsin Downtown Action Council
    • WEDC Office of Rural Prosperity
    • WEDC Wisconsin Main Street Program
    • Wisconsin Rural Partners.


           Orfordville (Rock County) – Friday, October 28
    Location: Village Hall, 303 E. Beloit Street
    Local host: Village of Orfordville

           Rosholt (Portage County) – Tuesday, November 1
    Location: Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative, 10401 Lystul Rd.
    Local host:  Rosholt Area Business Association

           Washburn (Bayfield County) – Thursday, November 3
    Location: The Club, 3 West Bayfield St.
    Local host:  Washburn Chamber of Commerce 

           Reedsville (Manitowoc County) – Tuesday, November 15 
    Location: Reedsville Fire Station, 100 Industrial Park Drive
    Partner: Village of Reedsville

    Forums agenda (subject to change):

    • 7:30 am – registrations/coffee and rolls
    • 8 am – welcome and introductions
    • 8:45 am – Local Case Studies:  Stories and examples of the good work going on in the community
    • 10 am – Wisconsin by the Numbers:  presentation on data
    • 10:45 am – Roundtable Discussions
    • 11:45 am - wrap up
    • 12 noon – lunch with resource leaders 

    Alan Nugent, a past Forum participant and small business owner in Stockholm, WI, had this to say about the forums: “As a small business owner, finding ways to help our community thrive and grow is important from a personal and professional standpoint. Being able to network and gather creative ideas and best practices from others in similar situations is a really valuable experience. I came away from the forums refreshed and reenergized.”

    The fee for each Forum is $20, which includes materials, coffee, and lunch.  Public health guidelines in each community will be followed.

    The 2022Small Community Forums are made possible through a coalition of statewide agencies and organizations involved in rural community development:  Create Wisconsin, Corporation’s Office of Rural Prosperity and Wisconsin Main Street Program, Wisconsin Downtown Action CouncilWisconsin Rural PartnersUW-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, and USDA Rural Development-Wisconsin.

    For more information and to register, go to
    Contact Anne Katz at with questions.     

About us

​Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. (WRP) serves as a network hub for organizations, government agencies and people working to make rural Wisconsin a better place. ​​We strive through our work to build leadership for the communities of rural Wisconsin.  ​​

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Wisconsin Rural Partners
601 Sawyer Terrace #5184
Madison, WI 53705

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