Summer Newsletter 7-09
Executive Director-Greg Krantz
715-635-8242 (Phone)
Administrative Coordinator-Margie Quinn 715-635-8236 (Fax)

As my first year as Washburn County Economic Development Director will be complete on the first of May, I would like to give a brief overview of my first year as Director. From May 1, 2012 through April 17, 2013 I have visited 140+ businesses and business owners in Washburn County. I am pleased to report that even the poor economy and the uncertainty with the new tax laws and health care programs, the business owners in Washburn County are the most upbeat and resourceful people you can hope to find.  When I asked one business owner how his business was doing he stated,  and I quote, "it's not much worse than before and I don't expect it to be much worse tomorrow, so I guess that my business is about even with everybody else's, so I think I'm OK".

During the first three months as WCEDC Director, a lot of my time was spent collaborating with several business owners and concerned citizens trying to find a solution to keep the doors from closing on the Spooner Civic Center. A total of eleven public meetings were held at the Spooner City Hall. It was quite revealing to see the number of people that attended these meetings that believed that the local businesses had a vested interest in keeping this facility open. These meetings were held to gather public input on how to save, what almost everyone at these meetings thought was an integral part of downtown Spooner and a huge drawing point for Washburn County. Finally in September, former Spooner resident Lars Geary stepped to the plate and purchased the Civic Center. The community owes Lars and his family a debt of gratitude for their purchase of this facility which has been renamed, "The Ice House".     

During the past year I spent a large amount of time meeting with the local bankers and their loan officers in Washburn County. I felt it was necessary  to re-establish our working relationship with them and to outline all of the loan programs that are available to them through the Washburn County Industrial Development Agency revolving loan fund. The loans that WCIDA can provide to partner with the local banks can sometimes mean the difference whether a new business can start-up or an existing business can expand. These partnerships with the local lenders are crucial because of the new lending regulations that were imposed on our banks.      

I have had several meetings with local units of government to explain how WCEDC can work with them in different capacities to promote business growth and expansion in their particular areas. An example of this was a three month long collaborative effort between the Town of Sarona, Washburn County, Barron Electric Cooperative, Allied Waste, DTE Energy of Ann Arbor Michigan and Washburn County Economic Development Corporation. This group coordinated efforts to try and get Dairyland Power to return to the negotiating table and finalize a deal on a methane to electricity project at the Sarona Landfill. DTE Energy was proposing to build a 7 million dollar methane powered electrical generating power plant at the Sarona Landfill and the electricity would then be sold to Dairyland Power and distributed to a projected four thousand homes by Barron Electric Cooperative. This project would have created several short term construction jobs and four permanent full time jobs to run the power plant as well as some additional tax revenue for the Town of Sarona. As of now, I haven't been notified that anything thing has changed or progress has been made since our last meeting in September.

WCEDC facilitated several meetings with a large manufacturing company that was possibly moving to Washburn County. Different government entities were invited to these meetings to determine what services and monies were available to possibly help with the relocation of this company. At this time the Company has relocated and is in the early stages of set-up and limited hiring of employee's. WCEDC also held the same type of meeting at the Spooner City Hall when two, out of area, companies were looking at the possibility of relocation to Spooner to merge with a manufacturing company located in the Spooner Industrial Park.   

In September, Village President Gillette from Birchwood and Village President Wallace from Minong, Mayor Peterson, Brad Pederson, City Administrator from Shell Lake and Spooner City Administrator Wm. Marx attended a meeting at the WCEDC office to meet Seth Hudson and Marie Steenlage. They are the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation representatives that have offices in the Eau Claire area. This was an excellent opportunity for Washburn County government officials to meet someone that they will have direct access to for questions about local infrastructure project needs and funding resources that might be available for these projects.  

In October, I had the privilege to be one of the presenters for the Washburn County Leadership Program held at Link's Snacks in Minong. Lloyd Wallace - Minong Village President, Brad Pederson - Shell Lake City Administrator and I described how the Villages, Cities and Washburn County Economic Development Corporation work together to sustain and grow a healthy business climate in the Cities and Villages in Washburn County. This is truly a worthwhile and informative program for everyone that is willing to commit the time and effort to attend. I was impressed with the intelligent and carefully thought out questions presented to our panel by the attendees at the Leadership Program.  

WCEDC Administrative Assistant Marge Quinn completed and submitted a grant application for the Bank of the West's Charitable Investment Program.   
WCEDC was informed that again this year we will receive Spooner's Bank of the West $2,500.00 Charitable Contribution Grant. Each year Bank of the West's Charitable Investment Program selects local non-profit businesses to compete for this grant. This grant award will be used to promote WCEDC's mission statement to expand the tax base, create new jobs and retain existing businesses in Washburn County. The WCEDC Board of Directors sincerely say thank you to Spooner Bank of the West for their generous donation!     

In the last newsletter that was sent out in August of 2012, I described a new marketing program and advertising brochure that WCEDC wanted to move forward with. Even though this was in the last newsletter, I want to put it in again for those of you who possibly didn't see it. The new advertising brochure features the following.


Want To Work Where You Play???

Washburn County Economic Development Corporation has several reasons why you should consider starting a new business, expanding or possibly relocating your present business to Washburn County!!!

Many of you have second homes in Washburn County, and you already vacation here. Have you ever thought of just staying? Washburn County Economic Development Corporation and Washburn County Industrial Development Agency can help you make that possible. WCEDC works with WCIDA to promote new business growth and the expansion of existing businesses.


WCEDC is able to provide funds for technical assistance for the development of business plans as well as marketing and managing your business. WCIDA manages a portfolio of six different loan funds that are available for the financing of new and existing business ventures. The interest rates of these loans vary depending on the program they originate from but are generally below market rates and terms.


  1. Washburn County is the perfect location with the major highways 53,  63, 70 and 77 passing through Washburn County. Rail access is also available in two areas of Washburn County. Our close proximity to the Twin Cities, Twin Ports and Eau Claire makes Washburn County the ideal business location.
  2. There are (TIF), Tax Increment Financing Districts established in Birchwood, Minong, Shell Lake, Spooner and Stone Lake. Most of these TIF Districts have commercial lots available in them. Several of the lots have sewer and water with 3-phase power already on site. All TIF Districts are served with long standing reliable Utility Companies.
  3. The Villages and Cities have storefront buildings and space available for rent or possible sale in the downtown business districts. These business buildings are available for viewing and contract review with our local realtors who work in close relationship with the Washburn County Economic Development Corporation.
  4. Washburn County has excellent K-12 education systems in Birchwood, Minong, Shell Lake and Spooner. Washburn County also has five post secondary schools with-in 30-90 minutes of any City or Village in the County. Access to the most reliable family health care is also located within minutes of these areas in Washburn County.


WCEDC also listed the top twenty plus business employers in Washburn County believing that some second homeowners might want to relocate here permanently and will apply for employment at one of Washburn County's established businesses. This will be good for the retail health of our area businesses as it will provide permanent customers for our local economy.  

WCEDC has had some very positive feedback on the content and factual data included in this brochure. I have had two responses that are directly attributed to this brochure. One inquiry was from the Chicago area and the other from the Twin Cities. These inquires were about a business purchase and the other about possible competition in the area if they did relocate.

At the end of fiscal year 2012, WCEDC packaged and presented eight business loans to the WCIDA Board of Directors for approval. These loan packages totaled $420,000 and had the cumulative effect of creating 54 new jobs and the retention and expansion of 63 current jobs. This might not seem like a large number of jobs in the grand scheme of things, but 100 people still have good jobs and are working in Washburn County. The creation of these new businesses and the expansion of the existing businesses has a positive influence on the business health of Washburn County.

I attended the Governor's Northern Wisconsin Economic Development Summit held at the Heartwood Conference Center December 13th and 14th. The Governor gave the keynote address during the lunch hour on the first day of the Conference. Governor Walker stressed the importance for all Departments of Government to work together to streamline the process for the public when moving projects forward. The Governor had almost all of his department heads present to answer questions and lay out their plans to implement the process the Governor explained earlier. This also gave everyone present, a chance to put a face with a name and meet with them at the breakout sessions. Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch opened the second day's session by stating her commitment for the future of Economic Development, Tourism and Education in Wisconsin. This Conference was well attended by Economic Development Agencies, Lending Institutions, Units of Government and Educators.   

In January, WCEDC was welcomed to the Spooner Area Chamber of Commerce. At the monthly Chamber meetings, all members present are invited to speak about their business and what has happened in the past month and what they are going to promote in the coming month. I find these monthly Chamber meetings to be very informational, besides giving everyone attending a chance to catch-up on what is going on in the local business community. This is a well run organization that serves this community with a high level of personal commitment and involvement.     

On March 27th, WCEDC was honored to have Lt. Governor Kleefisch at our office in Spooner to discuss Economic Development and Tourism strengths and weaknesses in Washburn County. As well as Marge and myself, those also attending this meeting were Mayor Cuskey of Spooner, Mayor Peterson, Brad Pederson, City Administrator from Shell Lake, Minong Village President Lloyd Wallace and Washburn County Tourism Director Michelle Voight. During the hour long round table discussion, we talked about local issues and Governmental regulations that have a direct impact on everyone in Washburn County. Everyone had a chance to express their views on possible solutions to problems that they perceive to be important in Washburn County. I sincerely thank Lt. Governor Kleefisch and her staff for taking time to include Washburn County Economic Development Corporation and our local officials in their busy schedule.      

2012 was a very busy first year for me. Visiting with 140+ Washburn County businesses and numerous other business owners in the past year has been no small task. Countless meetings and strategy sessions demand a lot of time and effort from everyone involved with each particular project and as you can tell from the content of this newsletter there have been many. As my first year as WCEDC Director comes to a close, I will end this newsletter by sharing an observation with you. Almost all business owners that I had the opportunity to visit with recognized the fact that when there neighbors business was doing well and was busy, they also had more customers coming thru the door!!!