Economic Development

County Level Economic Development

The County Board's Conservation, Education and Economic Development Committee is charged with overseeing day-to-day economic development activities in Wood County. Planning staff are responsible for working with development prospects and participate on the Boards of Directors for Centergy (the economic development organization for Wood, Portage and Marathon counties) and the North Central Advantage Technology Zone (the group that recommends tax credits for technology business expansion). The staff is also responsible for administering Wood County's revolving loan fund program (described below). Finally, Wood County provides financial support to both economic development agencies in the county; the Heart of Wisconsin Business & Economic Alliance (HOWBEA) in Wisconsin Rapids and the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MACCI) in Marshfield.

Conservation, Education & Economic Development (CEED) Committee

The CEED Committee is a standing committee of the County Board. The committee includes five members of the County Board who are appointed by the County Board Chairman and serve a two-year term. The Planning & Zoning Director is the support staff for the committee for economic development purposes. For membership and contact information, visit our Committees Page.

Wood County Revolving Loan Fund

Wood County began the revolving loan fund program in March, 2002 when the County Board adopted the Revolving Loan Fund Manual. The manual was approved by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce in May, 2002 and Wood County was notified of the first application that September.

Revolving Loan Funds are available to businesses and industries for projects that create new jobs, leverage additional private investment in the County and expand the County's tax base. Eligible and ineligible projects are listed in the Revolving Loan Fund Manual and the Revolving Loan Fund Brochure . The minimum loan amount is $20,000 because loans are structured to allow $20,000 for each FTE position created or retained (the owner is not counted as an employee for the purpose of the loan). The maximum amount of any loan will be 50% of the fund balance. Any type of legitimate, viable business is eligible to apply.

A five-member Loan Review Board reviews applications for loans much the same as a bank or other lender. After considering the application and negotiating terms and conditions of the loan, the Loan Review Board forwards their recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Minimum requirements of the program, spelled out in detail in the Revolving Loan Fund Manual, include a commitment of owner equity and commercial loans, creation and retention of jobs that are available to low- and moderate-income persons and the project must be deemed to be economically viable in our community. More information can be obtained by contacting the Revolving Loan Fund Administrator, Gary Popelka, in the Planning & Zoning Office.

Wood County Economic Development & Tourism

Need help planning or financing your business? Several options are available to help you get started.

For business planning, you might try the Heart of Wisconsin's Community Progress Initiative Entrepreneurial Boot Camp. The Boot Camp is an intensive learning program designed to train potential entrepreneurs. The camp provides the framework necessary for participants to take ideas and develop them into workable business plans. designed for persons who are interested in starting their own business. Held over a few days, participants learn how to write a business plan and present their business proposal to a panel of experts who will provide constructive criticism and encouragement. Many boot camp graduates have started their own businesses.

Another source of information is the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. If you visit the "business resources" section on their web site, you will find information on starting or expanding businesses, locating businesses in Wisconsin, writing business plans, financing options and more. This site is very worthwhile for those who are serious about starting or expanding a business in Wisconsin.

Wood County has participated in programs and activities to assist with business and industrial development that creates jobs, improves Wood County's business climate and makes Wood County a better place to live. A few examples of how this program has been used are:

  • Mill Creek Business Park infrastructure development
    The City of Marshfield was awarded $150,000 to assist with installation of sewer and water main to as they prepared their new Mill Creek Business Park for tenants.
  • The Woodlands Business Park infrastructure development
    An award of $150,000 was made to the City of Wisconsin Rapids to aide the city's efforts to ready the Woodlands Business Park for new tenants. The funding was used to help with sanitary sewer, storm sewer and water main installation.
  • Airports
    Wood County provides funding to both the Marshfield Airport and Alexander Field (South Wood County Airport) on an annual basis to support operational expenses. Additional grants have been made to assist with unforeseen maintenance projects and special projects.
  • Highways
    The function of the Economic Development Committee with respect to highways is to actively keep abreast of Wisconsin State Highway 10, 13, 34 and 73 construction initiatives that will be vital to future commerce and travel throughout Wood County and that will impact land uses in Wood County communities. Committee members and staff attend WisDOT meetings and public hearings regarding changes to the state highway system and represent the interests of the county through testimony and input on projects. The committee does not participate in county highway construction or maintenance.
  • State Fair Booth
    Wood County awards $2,500 each year to assist the Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Marshfield Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to have a booth at the Wisconsin State Fair to meet people and promote Wood County. The CVBs reported that this activity results in a measurable increase in tourism in Wood County.
  • Cranberry Highway Promotion
    The Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention & Visitors Bureau received $2,500 to be used as part of the local match for a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to develop and promote the Cranberry Highway tourism program, a tour of the cranberry harvest in the fall. Hotels, cranberry companies and the CVB have reported that this program is very successful, drawing tourists from around the country and outside the United States.

The Economic Development Committee was orginally called the "Transportation & Economic Development Committee." Their function in the area transportation was, and is, to support of area highway improvements, to monitor state legislation that will affect transportation projects and to recommend what projects the County Board should support and what grants they should apply for. In their transportation role, the Economic Development Committee provides financial support to the two airports and has been very active in getting grants for and constructing multi-use trails. The following list summarizes recent activities. It is important to note that this committee does not plan, construct or maintain county roads; that is the function of the Wood County Highway Committee.

  • Trails
    Several miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails have been developed by Wood County through the CEED Committee. The County has worked cooperatively with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, local municipalities and private businesses in Wood County to develop a system of trails that provide a safe alternate transportation option and another recreational opportunity. Many other trails, developed by municipalities, exist in the county and can be found on the Wood County Bicycle Trail Map.

Other Economic Development Services and Links

  • City of Marshfield Revolving Loan Fund.
  • City of Wisconsin Rapids Revolving Loan Fund.
  • North Central Wisconsin Development Corporation Loan Program.
  • Technology Zone tax credit program.
  • Small Business Development Center at UW-Stevens Point provides Business and Assistance Seminars.
  • SCORE Counselors.
  • Business start-up counseling at Heart of Wisconsin Business & Economic Alliance and the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Demographic Data and Geographic Information System mapping.
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