Creating Livable Communities as an Economic Development Strategy





Traditional economic development approaches such as building industrial parks, constructing speculative buildings and recruiting businesses through various incentive packages are not working for small communities in Wisconsin.  In the new economy, more and more of the workforce select where they would like to live and then find a job that enables them to live there.  This is especially true for new college graduates and the baby boom generation – two highly critical market segments.  This workforce is looking for livable and walkable communities, where people can feel safe as they enjoy attractive neighborhoods, vibrant downtowns and popular gathering places.  For Wisconsin to grow and prosper in this new era of choice, we must find ways to help communities understand these forces and to help them create communities, neighborhoods and places where people can flourish.  Small communities are especially challenged in making needed changes due to lack of resources (human and financial) and must be strategic in their planning.

The goal of this project is to identify components of successful “livable communities”, test their applicability to small communities in Wisconsin and then create a mapping and assessment tool as well as an educational process to inform community decision-making.


University of Wisconsin-Extension Cooperative Extension

University of Wisconsin–Barron County
University of Wisconsin–Marshfield/Wood County
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Continuing Education
USDA - Rural Development


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