Below is an article about a Grant County Business, First Contact a.k.a. Photonic Cleaning Solutions, is located in Platteville with direct ties to the University of Platteville. WiSys Ambassador Kaitlyn Timmins shows off a vial of the First Contact™ polymer that was a part of her research experience at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. First Contact™ is an adhesive polymer demonstrated to clean telescope lenses at the atomic scale. In development with NASA, it will be used to clean the “star shade” to be used with James Webb Space Telescope. The research goal is to develop methods that capture and isolate microbes by taking advantage of their unique adhesive properties. Timmins has been successful in presenting research about the polymer at WiSys events, including taking first place in WiSys’ 2019 Poster Symposium. WiSys Ambassadors enhance the vital connection between WiSys and the #research, #innovation and #entrepreneurship communities on University of Wisconsin System campuses. #AmbassadorDispatch
Reminder that our Grant County EDC Annual Meeting will be December 2nd and will be virtual via Zoom at 5:00 p.m. Kelliann Blazek, Director of Rural Prosperity for the WEDC will be our keynote. Contact our office for a Zoom link.
The fall colors are peaking, the soybeans and corn are being harvested, and we begin the last quarter of 2020. From a tourism perspective, this latest stretch of weather was great. I usually disregard the State’s Fall Color Report, which typically has Grant County reaching peak color in late October and find it most colorful around October 12th. Your oak trees may still be green in color, but the vibrant colors of the maples, poplar, birch, and hickory paired the with remaining green colors is what I enjoy most.
ATV and UTVs remain the newest and most highly popular touring vehicle. This is the one area that has resulted in the newest and highest impact to tourism in the county and region. What were UTVs 3 years ago? I recall my assistant scrambling to try to keep up with the development of maps for the industry. At the time, each township, city, or village was doing their own thing. Some were welcoming the new vehicles and others, not so much. “How do we get from the east side of the county to the west?” was a common question asked of our office. The changes we have seen in regulations and acceptance of ATV/UTV on our roads and into our communities is a great example of how economic development works. It is usually not quick and simple and takes years to develop. My office supported the purchasing of signs for ATV/UTVs in several townships and municipalities. The County’s actions addressing this on a county-wide basis, followed by the cities and villages, have made life easier for navigating from one end of the county to the other. Like them or not, these new vehicles on our roads are having an impact on tourism. We have had groups from Iowa use our maps to plan weekend trips in Grant County. Where I live, on a county road, seeing one or two a day is now the norm, while dozens a day are common on the weekends. I have had several businesses comment that this has helped them particularly with the pandemic’s negative fiscal impact.
Covid is driving new tourism, especially outdoor activities. Fishing license purchases are up significantly. The trout fishermen have been hitting the county in full force, with a lot of Iowa and Illinois vehicles parked along our county and town roads. Camping is up, recreational vehicles are in high demand, and of course the ATV/UTV movement is growing. When you see the Cassville Ferry full of just ATV/UTVs, then you know there is something to plan around. We see the motorcycle clubs tour through, as well as the bicyclists and classic cars. Now, there are UTVs. My office has created various maps for all these modes of transportation. I am curious, though. What will be the new mode in 10 years?
Get out and enjoy our county and our region. The great thing about Grant County is that you are near great scenery no matter where you live. A leisurely drive around the county is a great way to relax, be with your family sharing quality time, and be isolated as the times sometimes require. Enjoy the fall!
As we move along through the current situation we are seeing signs of improvement in the economy. We are working to assist our area small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has announced a new grant program, the “We’re All In” program has been released and the application window is fast approaching. This program is for businesses with less than 20 full-time employees and makes more than 0 but less than $1Million in annual revenue, and must have been in business prior to February of 2020. This is a grant of $2,500 to the business, it will be considered taxable income, the business will receive a 1099 form for tax purposes. Our small retail and service-based businesses are the target of this program, however, farmers are not eligible. The WEDC website (WEDC.org) gives the details of what you will need to apply, including tax/revenue information. The application window is open only 1 week, do not procrastinate on this if you have interest. The WEDC is planning to issue 30,000 grants around the state. During a meeting I had with WEDC, they indicated that various scoring criteria will be used and that they will work to make sure these grants are issued to businesses in all 72 counties. The WEDC stated during the meeting that the application does not take long to complete and submit. Applicants will need a letter from a recognized entity stating that the business was in business prior to 2020. My office can issue such a letter as well as the Fennimore Chamber.
Another program in the works is through the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) and is being titled the “Micro Enterprise Grant”. The target audience of this business grant is very similar to the WEDC program but the details have not been finalized. When I was talking with DOA they were thinking grants up to $10,000 per business. I believe this may be reduced. They only had approximately $16MM to utilize in the program, which may sound like a lot but think of the demand and number of businesses. Now this program funds could only be used by businesses in “non-entitlement” counties, which generally means more rural counties. The 7 counties that make up the Milwaukee Metro area would not qualify. Dane County does not qualify either. As stated above, this program is still being developed and I believe the main delay is that the Federal Government agency HUD needed to approve the program guidelines and this commonly takes time. When I see any details on this program I will send it out to the area chambers of commerce and economic development corporations and any businesses that I am aware of that is in need and qualifies for these programs.
Keep in mind that my office is available to assist as are the local chambers and the small business development center. We strive to keep our website up to date to assist you all, www.grantcounty.org for more information and contact info. Stay Safe!
Ron Brisbois, Grant County Economic Development Corporation
Some indicators rank Wisconsin 50th or dead last in entrepreneurship. Other studies are a little more kind to Wisconsin but I have not seen any that have the state in the top 25. This is a challenge that I believe we, as economic developers, can do something about. I have seen several times where entrepreneurs will want to start up a business here in Grant County but cannot get the support or environment to do so. They head to another state to make their dreams come true. Entrepreneurship is tough. It requires courage and intelligence. I believe we have a lot of people living right here that have the courage and intelligence to start and operate a successful business. We need to create the environment. When Wisconsin is ranked 50th, it is in large part because we lack, or don’t foster, the environment for entrepreneurs to develop and grow. So what do we do about this?
We have many of the resources here to support entrepreneurship. We just need to organize a little better, improve communication, and improve opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to access those resources. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) serves our region, as well as Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative (WWBIC), Southwest Tech, (SWTC) and U.W.-Platteville (UWP). We have the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SWWRPC), and our financial institutions. We have our Chambers of Commerce and our economic development organizations. We have many resources (and yes, each resource has an acronym), but we need to improve our communication and efforts to reach and support entrepreneurs to encourage the growth of their ideas and initiatives and to remove the obstacles.
Need help with a business plan or financial planning? We have that available, for free. Need help with a patent, we can help. The resources listed above all have abilities to support entrepreneurship and small business development. Improvements are still needed in areas of mentoring and seed funding or microloan programs. I am working to recreate a loan program with capital to lend. My corporation has some funding available. We have been doing a few microloans, but these funds are best served in conjunction with traditional bank/credit union financing. The idea of “Pop-Up Shops” has been brought up. I think we could work with local chambers and the owners of vacant and available buildings in commercial areas to foster new business development by having the resources to get the business planned and then help with some of the costs of lease/rent of the storefront. Many of the obstacles to starting a business aren’t necessarily complicated, but it is still a challenge. My office is working with those listed above to develop an environment that encourages the risk by reducing the challenges. We are looking to create more and stronger resources, because we need too.
Now is the time. Our demographics show an aging population, fewer young people, and a migration of business and industry to larger urban areas. We need to grow our own future. That is what entrepreneurship is about. Much of our future here in Grant County is, and will be, centered around the development and growth of businesses. That is why entrepreneurship is so important. Interested in starting or growing a business, please contact my office. (822-3501)
Ron Brisbois, Executive Director – Grant County Economic Development
It’s that time of year again! “That Time” when we look ahead to what the rest of the year will bring: Activities, Events, Opportunities, and an all-round good time! Grant County stands ready to provide whatever “That Time” you are hoping to find. Contact us at email@example.com for your copy of the Guide. We will provide you with Community information as well as contact information that will give you the tools for the most memorable summer yet. There are digital copies at several locations on our website grantcounty.org . Make 2020 your best year yet – in Grant County!
The Economic Development area of the website includes all kinds of information for companies and industries looking to develop a new business or relocate or expand an existing business. There are vacant industrial properties and commercial buildings of all sizes available for sale, rent or lease. People of the southwest Wisconsin area have a high work ethic and are excellent employees. Contact Ron Brisbois, Director of the Grant County Economic Development Corporation for information about business development information for Grant County.
If you are looking for things to do in Grant County, the Tourism area of the website is an excellent resource. If you are interested in historical sites, seasonal outdoor activities, specialty wine and cheese shops, fun day trips, good restaurants or comfortable places to stay, the Grant County Tourism Council can provide the information you need.
We extend a handshake and welcome you to Grant County Wisconsin!