A Pro-Business Community

Chippewa County, Wisconsin

ChippewaBanner


Chippewa County, Wisconsin is known for its positive business climate. “We have a stable history of growth and pro-business environment,” says Charlie Walker, President/CEO of The Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation. The EDC is committed to continuing this legacy of business success. “The economic development organization leads the state and we have won many awards in recognition of our innovative programs. We are proud of that.”
~
The county also benefits from its location within the pro-business state of Wisconsin. “The manufacturing tax rates continue to drop with the goal to eliminate manufacturing tax rates in Wisconsin. So the business climate continues to improve.” The state has the funds that workers need, even as taxes continue to drop. “Wisconsin’s public pension program is 100 percent funded,” Mr. Walker points out. “That is important – unlike states like Illinois and California that have such a huge deficit. When their employees retire, that could be an automatic tax increase to cover the cost. Wisconsin is totally 100 percent funded.”

Chippewa County keeps local taxes low as well, and incentives are available for incoming or expanding businesses. “We customize our incentives per the project, so it is a combination of land buy downs, tax credits, and tax increment finance assistance. We are able to customize and meet an industry’s needs so our incentives help take some of the risk out of those expansion decisions.”

The County’s location is also a boon to business. Located just outside Eau Claire, Chippewa County is a stone’s throw from the tier one market of Minneapolis and St Paul. The county also enjoys easy access to a variety of tier two markets, including La Crosse, Green Bay, Rochester, and Fargo.

Chippewa County lies along the largest intermodal logistics hub in Wisconsin, so reaching these markets—and points farther afield—is a snap. Two tier one railroads and one short line railroad run through the community, and a network of US and State Highways whisk residents and freight to Interstate 94, located nearby. The county is also home to the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport—northern Wisconsin’s largest airport.

Currently, Chippewa County enjoys a low unemployment rate of just 3.8 percent. The labor participation rate is 69 percent—higher than both the nation’s and the state’s, and residents work across a wide variety of industries. “We have a diversified economy. Not only do we have manufacturing and healthcare and retail, we have an agricultural community that is pretty balanced.”

Corn, soy, and dairy are foundational agricultural products. Organic dairies and organic food growers are enjoying strong growth, as is organic food processing. The community is also an ideal location for companies that produce animal feed to support the region’s thriving dairy industry. The sector’s newest arrival is feed producer Star Blends, which just announced the opening of a $7 million facility in Chippewa County that will employ 25 people.

Part of the Technology Corridor of Wisconsin, Chippewa County is also active in a wide range of advanced manufacturing. “Not only is the total economy diverse, but the advanced manufacturing is diverse—from tool and die, to computer peripherals, to agricultural equipment,” Mr. Walker says.

For instance, Cray Inc. got its start in Chippewa County when founder Seymour Cray, the legendary ‘father of supercomputing,’ based his company’s R&D and manufacturing in his hometown of Chippewa Falls. Now a global corporation, the company continues to manufacture in Chippewa County. The internationally known computer company SGI also manufactures in Chippewa Falls. Circuit board producer TTM is another well-known high-tech manufacturer located in the tech-centered town. In addition, Intel Corporation has a branch location just a few miles away in Eau Claire.

The county’s manufacturing goes beyond the tech sector, to cover everything from shoes to beverage bottlers. Founded by a Chippewa Falls father and son team back in 1904, B.A. Mason continues to manufacture high quality footwear in the town. Also located in Chippewa Falls, craft brewer Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. is the fourth oldest brewery in the nation. Premium Waters, Inc. produces and distributes bottled water and filtration systems in the manufacturing mecca.

“Manufacturing is 20 percent of our GDP,” Mr. Walker reports. “And that could be because of the foundation of the Wisconsin work ethic that continues to hold as strong today as it did in the ‘40s.” The addition of advanced manufacturing has helped drive the community forward while maintaining a focus on its foundational industry. “What the advanced manufacturing has done to this county is push us to stay ahead of the curve.”

To do so, the county is focusing on workforce development. “We pride ourselves on our community college and our university system. Wisconsin is a leader in education and Chippewa County is no different.” The surrounding community is home to the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire as well as UW-Stout, the state’s polytechnic university. “When you add those educational resources to our work ethic, you will see that the environment is such that it allows manufacturing to continue to prosper.”

Tourism is another important sector in Chippewa County. Known for its local charm and natural beauty, the community is an ideal destination for people who want to enjoy the great outdoors. The county boasts hiking and biking trails, cross county skiing trails, snowmobile and ATV trails, sprawling parks, acres of pristine forest lands, hunting, camp sites, golf courses, opportunities to view birds and other wildlife, and waterways that are ideal for boating, sailing, kayaking and fishing. “It is the perfect natural environment for folks who love the four seasons and the outdoors.”

In addition, Chippewa County hosts nationally acclaimed music festivals, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, and other festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Winery tours, craft brewery tours, history tours, and seasonal activities such as apple picking and ice fishing are also popular. Furthermore, the community enjoys easy access to the urban amenities available in neighboring Eau Claire. “You’ve got the big city amenities right across the river,” Mr. Walker points out.

With so much to offer, it should come as no surprise that Chippewa County is expecting ongoing expansion. “It is amazing when you look at the projections. The growth of Chippewa County is estimated at 8 to 10 percent. When you look at all of our industrial clusters they are up. The only down one is public administration—which means we are reducing the size of government and putting our resources into trade, manufacturing, healthcare. Construction is up, mining is up, transportation/warehousing is up, leisure/hospitality is up. So when you look at a diversified economy, all the key indicators are up.”

All sectors are expected to continue growing, particularly advanced manufacturing. “We are definitely the spirit of Wisconsin’s manufacturing, through our history and through our innovation into the future. There is no doubt that Chippewa County folks enjoy making things.”

Developers are busy building homes and clearing land for the newcomers. The Chippewa County EDC already has 13 state certified, shovel ready sites in the Lake Wissota Business Park, making it a snap for businesses to relocate or expand. Because the site is state certified, “we have all the data, all that information that will cut build time, typically by four months,” Mr. Walker explains.

Millennials are also choosing to stay in the community, or are moving there, ensuring that Chippewa County has a strong workforce for years to come. “We are situated well for future growth, especially for the younger generation,” Mr. Walker shares. “We are seeing Millennials attracted to a [place] where they can enjoy life.”

From a pro-business climate to outdoor recreation, Chippewa County has plenty to offer both young and old.

Chippewa County, Wisconsin is known for its positive business climate. “We have a stable history of growth and pro-business environment,” says Charlie Walker, President/CEO of The Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation. The EDC is committed to continuing this legacy of business success. “The economic development organization leads the state and we have won many awards in recognition of our innovative programs. We are proud of that.”
~
The county also benefits from its location within the pro-business state of Wisconsin. “The manufacturing tax rates continue to drop with the goal to eliminate manufacturing tax rates in Wisconsin. So the business climate continues to improve.” The state has the funds that workers need, even as taxes continue to drop. “Wisconsin’s public pension program is 100 percent funded,” Mr. Walker points out. “That is important – unlike states like Illinois and California that have such a huge deficit. When their employees retire, that could be an automatic tax increase to cover the cost. Wisconsin is totally 100 percent funded.”

Chippewa County keeps local taxes low as well, and incentives are available for incoming or expanding businesses. “We customize our incentives per the project, so it is a combination of land buy downs, tax credits, and tax increment finance assistance. We are able to customize and meet an industry’s needs so our incentives help take some of the risk out of those expansion decisions.”

The County’s location is also a boon to business. Located just outside Eau Claire, Chippewa County is a stone’s throw from the tier one market of Minneapolis and St Paul. The county also enjoys easy access to a variety of tier two markets, including La Crosse, Green Bay, Rochester, and Fargo.

Chippewa County lies along the largest intermodal logistics hub in Wisconsin, so reaching these markets—and points farther afield—is a snap. Two tier one railroads and one short line railroad run through the community, and a network of US and State Highways whisk residents and freight to Interstate 94, located nearby. The county is also home to the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport—northern Wisconsin’s largest airport.

Currently, Chippewa County enjoys a low unemployment rate of just 3.8 percent. The labor participation rate is 69 percent—higher than both the nation’s and the state’s, and residents work across a wide variety of industries. “We have a diversified economy. Not only do we have manufacturing and healthcare and retail, we have an agricultural community that is pretty balanced.”

Corn, soy, and dairy are foundational agricultural products. Organic dairies and organic food growers are enjoying strong growth, as is organic food processing. The community is also an ideal location for companies that produce animal feed to support the region’s thriving dairy industry. The sector’s newest arrival is feed producer Star Blends, which just announced the opening of a $7 million facility in Chippewa County that will employ 25 people.

Part of the Technology Corridor of Wisconsin, Chippewa County is also active in a wide range of advanced manufacturing. “Not only is the total economy diverse, but the advanced manufacturing is diverse—from tool and die, to computer peripherals, to agricultural equipment,” Mr. Walker says.

For instance, Cray Inc. got its start in Chippewa County when founder Seymour Cray, the legendary ‘father of supercomputing,’ based his company’s R&D and manufacturing in his hometown of Chippewa Falls. Now a global corporation, the company continues to manufacture in Chippewa County. The internationally known computer company SGI also manufactures in Chippewa Falls. Circuit board producer TTM is another well-known high-tech manufacturer located in the tech-centered town. In addition, Intel Corporation has a branch location just a few miles away in Eau Claire.

The county’s manufacturing goes beyond the tech sector, to cover everything from shoes to beverage bottlers. Founded by a Chippewa Falls father and son team back in 1904, B.A. Mason continues to manufacture high quality footwear in the town. Also located in Chippewa Falls, craft brewer Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. is the fourth oldest brewery in the nation. Premium Waters, Inc. produces and distributes bottled water and filtration systems in the manufacturing mecca.

“Manufacturing is 20 percent of our GDP,” Mr. Walker reports. “And that could be because of the foundation of the Wisconsin work ethic that continues to hold as strong today as it did in the ‘40s.” The addition of advanced manufacturing has helped drive the community forward while maintaining a focus on its foundational industry. “What the advanced manufacturing has done to this county is push us to stay ahead of the curve.”

To do so, the county is focusing on workforce development. “We pride ourselves on our community college and our university system. Wisconsin is a leader in education and Chippewa County is no different.” The surrounding community is home to the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire as well as UW-Stout, the state’s polytechnic university. “When you add those educational resources to our work ethic, you will see that the environment is such that it allows manufacturing to continue to prosper.”

Tourism is another important sector in Chippewa County. Known for its local charm and natural beauty, the community is an ideal destination for people who want to enjoy the great outdoors. The county boasts hiking and biking trails, cross county skiing trails, snowmobile and ATV trails, sprawling parks, acres of pristine forest lands, hunting, camp sites, golf courses, opportunities to view birds and other wildlife, and waterways that are ideal for boating, sailing, kayaking and fishing. “It is the perfect natural environment for folks who love the four seasons and the outdoors.”

In addition, Chippewa County hosts nationally acclaimed music festivals, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, and other festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Winery tours, craft brewery tours, history tours, and seasonal activities such as apple picking and ice fishing are also popular. Furthermore, the community enjoys easy access to the urban amenities available in neighboring Eau Claire. “You’ve got the big city amenities right across the river,” Mr. Walker points out.

With so much to offer, it should come as no surprise that Chippewa County is expecting ongoing expansion. “It is amazing when you look at the projections. The growth of Chippewa County is estimated at 8 to 10 percent. When you look at all of our industrial clusters they are up. The only down one is public administration—which means we are reducing the size of government and putting our resources into trade, manufacturing, healthcare. Construction is up, mining is up, transportation/warehousing is up, leisure/hospitality is up. So when you look at a diversified economy, all the key indicators are up.”

All sectors are expected to continue growing, particularly advanced manufacturing. “We are definitely the spirit of Wisconsin’s manufacturing, through our history and through our innovation into the future. There is no doubt that Chippewa County folks enjoy making things.”

Developers are busy building homes and clearing land for the newcomers. The Chippewa County EDC already has 13 state certified, shovel ready sites in the Lake Wissota Business Park, making it a snap for businesses to relocate or expand. Because the site is state certified, “we have all the data, all that information that will cut build time, typically by four months,” Mr. Walker explains.

Millennials are also choosing to stay in the community, or are moving there, ensuring that Chippewa County has a strong workforce for years to come. “We are situated well for future growth, especially for the younger generation,” Mr. Walker shares. “We are seeing Millennials attracted to a [place] where they can enjoy life.”

From a pro-business climate to outdoor recreation, Chippewa County has plenty to offer both young and old.

November 22, 2017, 9:25 AM EST