Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) this week announced a $1 million investment to support the state’s rural entrepreneurs. A new initiative led by UW-Madisons Division of Extension and WEDC, provide training, technical support, and legal and financial advice for entrepreneurs to either start their own business or strengthen an existing one.
“We know that in Wisconsin, great ideas can come from anywhere,” he said Missy Hughes, WEDC Secretary and CEO. “However, rural entrepreneurs often do not have access to the capital and knowledge networks of other entrepreneurs. Our goal is that everyone in our country has the chance to put their great ideas into practice.”
A report released this spring by the Wisconsin Startup Coalition, the University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural & Life Sciences and Alliant Energy found that the number of startups formed in rural Wisconsin has decreased by 50% since 1978.
Issues highlighted in the report included difficulty getting through the patenting process and low employment rates in industries categorized as research and development. Access to finance capital has also been one of the major obstacles faced by rural entrepreneurs.
“We know that rural communities and economies can thrive when local ideas are given the opportunity to grow into mainstream businesses,” he said carl martin, Dean and Director of the UW-Madison Extension. “We partner with entrepreneurs and industries directly in their own communities to leverage the knowledge and talent around them. This is an exciting opportunity to focus on the types of businesses that can benefit from training and advice to bring innovation and action to rural areas.”
As part of this newly announced initiative, five rural Wisconsin communities got help in boosting their economic development plans. There are also new programs being developed by UW-Madison Extension in partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension, using funding from two farm credit associations: Compeer Financial and AgCountry Farm Credit Services.