2010 Winter Volume

208 VINE STREET, SPOONER-WI 54801
WASHBURNCODVCP@CENTURYTEL.NET OR MQECONOMIC@CENTURYTEL.NET
WWW.WASHBURNCODEVELOPMENT.COM
Winter Newsletter-2010
Executive Director-Dick Hartmann 715-635-8242 (Phone)
Administrative Coordinator-Margie Quinn 715-635-8236 (Fax)

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

According to financial experts from around the country, the U.S. Economy experienced a meltdown beginning in 2008 only to be followed by a market upsurge starting in 2009.  Major Federal stimulus efforts helped avert a disaster and restore some consumer confidence, which just until recently seemed to mimic the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  Currently, however conditions have stabilized and despite lasting and painful unemployment levels, the recession seems to be winding down with recovery underway.

The economic outlook appears encouraging for 2010, due to the recent rise in corporate profits.  A leading economic indicator, the GDP grew newly 3% in the final quarter of 2009.  Future growth rates could be 3-4% this year.  However, it appears the rate of growth will be slower than past with past recession recoveries due to the high levels of consumer and government debt.

Now, availability of credit has been limited to primarily large companies, further aggravating recovery efforts.  Many small to mid-size businesses, primarily manufacturers, still face challenges in obtaining credit, limiting their potential for solid growth.  The Washburn County Industrial Development Agency is still making loans, due to the fact that we are a secondary lender and “funding gap filler.”  We’ve also been seeing a majority of our loans in the last six months going to help retain existing operations and not so much for new or expanding businesses.  The big downside is the continuing decline in the jobs market.  Although bleak, it too is expected to begin to rebound in 2010.

The other thing currently happening, that may benefit our economy, is that many emerging market nations show greater strength than U.S. market.  Their growth could help expand our growth through increased trade and export of products abroad.  Washburn County businesses need to look at expanding their market share, to take advantage of this situation.

One caution to be keenly aware of now, is inflation.  While we are not seeing this in the short term, as interest rates continue to remain low, it could become a significant problem for our financial markets over the next several years.  The reason for the concern is the unprecedented amount of government stimulus dollars by the Fed (Federal Reserve System) and the U.S. government.  The Fed has pumped more than $1 trillion (12 zeros) into the economy and our government is spending billions of dollars to stimulate growth.  By doing so they have created the largest national debt in history.  As economic recovery continues increasing consumer spending, capital investment and increased lending could dramatically increase the flow of dollars throughout the economy leading to higher prices and spending more for less (inflation).  With all this spending the Fed and the government need to keep take decisive action to keep inflation under control.

Executive Director’s Report – by Dick Hartmann

Since June of 2009 the Executive Director and staff of the WCEDC have been very busy.  The following list is some of the more notable accomplishments by the staff.

The WCEDC completed and had approved an amended set of Corporation By-Laws.

The completion and submittal for approval of the 1023 Application to the U.S. Department of the Treasury-Internal Revenue Service for designation of the Washburn County Economic Development Corporation as a Non-Profit Corporation allowing for donations and memberships to be Federally Tax Exempt.

Completed and implemented a “Certificate of Exemption,” for the WCEDC with the State Department of Revenue.

Assisted in the development and completion of seven (7) new loans through the Washburn County Industrial Development Agency – Revolving Loan Fund Programs for a total amount of $337,400.00.  There were two (2) new refinances of business debt for existing county businesses for $127,000.00.  We also restructured a number of loans due to the current economic situation.  A total of 54 jobs were saved and 9 new jobs created.

The Executive Director with the help of the Administrative Coordinator, Marge Quinn, put together a Summer Newsletter for the organization the first since 2006 and also the development of a Winter Newsletter.

The WCEDC has increased its membership from 48 members in 2008 to 63 members in 2009 and is anticipating similar membership in the future.

WCEDC is currently co-sponsoring a series of Webinars with UW-Extension, Washburn County on “Building Communities in a Difficult Economy.”  The series has a total of six (6) monthly sessions.

WCEDC continues to work in conjunction with the UW-Superior – Small Business Development Center to begin Business Plan Development Classes to begin in late March on into April 2010.  The “kick-off,” meeting for the training, will be at the WCEDC Offices.

The WCEDC Executive Director continues to meet with area businesses, prospective businesses wishing to relocate into the County.

The EDC continues to work with existing business on retention and expansion opportunities.

The EDC also continues to work with local units of government (Cities, Villages and Townships) on economic development issues.

Washburn County’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Rise

 

According to the State Department of Workforce Development (DWD) the February unemployment rates dropped in 22 Wisconsin counties, 12 cities and four metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) according to the latest statistics available.  The indications are that Wisconsin’s economy as a whole may be stabilizing and moving toward recovery.  The seasonally adjusted Unemployment Rate for the State as a whole was 8.7% or the same as the previous month, and is still 1.0% more than a year ago.

 

Wisconsin, when compared to the nation is still better off.  The current national seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for the nation is 9.7% also the same as it was the previous month and is 1.5% greater than a year ago.

 

Washburn County February not seasonally adjusted rate is 11.8% up from 11.6% a month ago and up from a December rate of 10.1% a jump of 1.7%, this rate is the same for the same period a year ago which indicates the seasonal flux in unemployment.  As compared to the nation the State of Wisconsin is 1.7% below the national average.  The national rate is unchanged from the previous month and 1.5% of where it was last year at this time.

 

State Department of Workforce Development Secretary Gassman said, “We remain optimistic that Wisconsin’s economy will continue to show improvement, opening up greater employment opportunities for many hardworking families who have been out of work through no fault of their own.”

 

See attached spread-sheet which shows how Washburn County compares to its neighbors.

 

Northwest Wisconsin Unemployment for February 2010  Compared to Regional Counties, State and Nation

County

2/10 Unemp.

Previous Month's Rate

Current State Rank

Rate 1 Yr. Ago

Ashland

13.6%

11.6%

25

10.8%

Bayfield

13.2%

13.5%

6

11.6%

Burnett

13.2%

13.2%

8

11.6%

Douglas

9.4%

9.0%

56

8.8%

Iron

13.7%

13.8%

2

12.2%

Price

11.4%

11.4%

27

11.0%

Rusk

14.7%

14.4%

1

9.00%

Sawyer

12.8%

12.8%

10

12.9%

Taylor

114.7%

18.8%

3

13.9%

Washburn

11.8%

11.6%

24

11.8%

State of Wisconsin

9.7%

9.6%

 

8.8%

United States

10.4%

10.6%

 

8.9%

 

New State-Department of Commerce, NW Regional Representative

Northwest Wisconsin has a new Region 1 Department of commerce – Area Project Manager.  Ms. Dagmar Beckel-Machyckova (pronounced match-a-cova) has accepted the job and will be serving the 15 county region of West Central/Northwest Wisconsin.  Ms. Machyckova recently met with the WCEDC Executive Director.

In the meeting she discussed her background, skills and experience in area economic development while she was with the City of Eau Claire Economic Development Division.  She will assist us with business expansions, promote business retention and assist organizations like ours with our economic development efforts.  She will be able to use her knowledge of State, Federal, and Regional Resources to provide us with a variety of information and assistance to help expand or relocate firms.  She can also assist us in mobilizing resources to help struggling businesses and help us with long-term marketing and planning efforts.  Dagmar can be contacted at:  Ms. Dagmar Beckel-Machyckova – 2322 Alpine Road, Suite 3 – Eau Claire, WI 54703, (715)874-5265, Dagmar.Beckel@wisconsin.gov.

WCEDC Board Looks at Renewable Energy-Special Meeting

The WCEDC on January 6, 2010 has a Special Board of Directors Meeting to discuss possible direction of the EDC regarding it’s role to help position Washburn County as an area for wood – related renewable energy business development.  This type of industry would lend itself to adding value to the area logging industry and potentially creating additional jobs and revenue in the production of renewable fuels for use in heating, liquid fuels, and the generation of electrical energy.

Besides Board Members and the Executive Director the meeting was attended by Mike Peterson – Washburn County Forest Administrator, Pat Scheller-Wausau Paper out of Solon Springs, Max Ericson – Local Logger, D.J. Aderman-President of Futurewood, Inc. a Johnson Timber Company, Mark Broses-Sr. Environmental Engineer with Short Elliott and Hendrickson, Inc. and Gary Isakson of Renewcapital, LLC – developers and investors in renewable and alternative energy products.  The purpose of the meeting was to look at Washburn County and determine if a feasibility analysis could be undertaken to determine a course of action on how the County could take advantage of this new potential market and State of Wisconsin priority.  That of producing 25% or its energy needs by 2025.

Areas focused on during the meeting included: Availability of Woody Resources in the County, Logging Infrastructure, Harvest Capability, Transportation, Technology Costs, Opportunities, Obstacles, Feasibility costs and Where Funds Could Be Found.  The next steps include looking at the funding aspect for doing the feasibility work.

WCEDC Membership

The Washburn County Economic Development Corporation is a non-profit corporation established in 2002, whose mission it is, “To Expand the Tax Base, Create New Jobs and Retain Existing Businesses in Washburn County.”  The services that WCEDC provides include: marketing, and selling Washburn County’s many attributes to targeted business and industry outside the county, networking with national, state, regional and local agencies providing direction and referral for additional services, providing technical assistance on training opportunities, business plan assistance, collaboration with other are agencies providing the most up-to-date business information, seminars, Webinars and resources dealing with solutions to common business issues and problems.

As most of you are aware, the WCEDC as a non-profit corporation is financially assisted with an injection of county funds.  We also have a contract for services with the Washburn County Industrial Development Agency, Ltd. to market and manage their Revolving Loan Fund Programs and their existing loan portfolio.  Currently, the WCEDC actively manages 35 loans total approximately $2 million, with several loan approvals pending.

The balance of the WCEDC Budget comes from members, which include large and small companies, individuals and municipalities in the form of annual dues.  As of the end of 2009 we were 63 members strong, up from 48 members in 2008.  We are now in the midst of our 2010 membership drive. We would like to thank all those who continued their memberships and encourage other that we would like to become members.  Remember that in order to be a voting member of the Corporation you must have paid your dues to be in good standing prior to the Annual Meeting (usually the third Thursday of May). For more information on the WCEDC and how to become a member or take advantage of our services please contact us or go to our Website.

For updated information on business growth in Washburn County, Monthly Meetings, Agendas and available services.