I commonly get asked how economic development is going and if I am staying busy. Well, the answers are usually similar time after time. Economic Development is going well. I am a “glass is half-full” person and things are always busy. In county economic development, we are diverse enough with a blending of agriculture, manufacturing, service-based, and entrepreneurs that we always seem to have projects and new ideas being developed, even during a recession. Our office is called upon to do so many things, that it is never really slow or lacking of things to do.
The agriculture market and economy in Grant County is obviously very soft and needs improvement. Everyone in the region knows this, but we are still seeing opportunities in the dairy and Ag industries. We have several new dairy processing facilities being proposed and evaluated. I have a dairy farmer looking to add value to his milk by developing new product lines and a marketing plan.
Manufacturing is stable. We are even seeing some growth in this sector with some new production lines and modest expansions being developed and implemented.
Our service-based businesses continue to look for workers to address their economy and the stability and growth in that sector.
Entrepreneurship is very much alive and well in the county. My goals for prospect development have already been met for the year, largely driven by entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking growth. I do foresee that entrepreneurship will be a major force every year for years to come.
Grant County Economic Development does whatever is asked of us. We are a “go-to” on many different fronts. We fielded calls about the Mt. Hope elm tree when the story aired on a Madison television station. A Rabbi from the Chicago area stopped by my office to discuss a variety of plans. Housing is on the front of many of our municipal leaders’ minds. Working to update comprehensive plans or to develop a strategy on funding new housing is a common topic in my office. Providing ATV/UTV maps and other tourism materials to visitors is a daily occurrence for us. Working with a single dairy farmer’s idea to a multi-national corporation looking to build one of the largest factories in the world has become a daily thing. Assisting businesses with challenges is another aspect of what we do.
We are not everything to everyone. Our goal is to provide an answer but if we don’t know the answer, we know the person who does. I do not know a lot about exporting products to a foreign country but I know people who do. This is what we do and it is one of our greatest strengths. I can be at a conference or meeting on the other side of the state almost every single day. I do attend conference and training from time to time, usually about once a month, but I don’t need those conferences to keep busy. When work at home isn’t getting done, then it is time for change. My members, partners, and businesses are what really matter in my career. Toward the end of the year in a future Buzz About Town, I will recap some of the highlights and unusual projects I have worked on during my past 20 years. This will demonstrate some of the “diversity” that our office has experienced over the years.
Ron Brisbois – Executive Director, Grant County Economic Development Corp.