NORTHWOODS - A new Forward Analytics report showed people are leaving Wisconsin's rural counties and moving into more urban ones.
Two-thirds of rural counties in the Badger State saw their populations decrease from 2000 to 2018. That trend contrasts with studies that showed population growth in these areas in the 1990's.
"We're aging, so our demographics are getting older, and our populations are shrinking," said Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) regional director Jim Rosenberg. "Community development is economic development. You have to make it a place where people want to come."
These population trends are expected to continue in the Northwoods. Price County is predicted to lose 18% of its current population by 2040.
Experts said the best way for people and businesses to thrive in these communities is by expanding broadband access.
"In the 21st century, technology is not going away," said Grow North director Brittany Beyer. "A good percentage of our businesses [need] connectivity. We have to talk about it being a utility rather than an amenity."
In order for that to happen, Beyer said elected officials need to take a stand.
"We also need to ask our local officials be part of the solution and help the communities have these long-term visions about where they want to go," said Beyer.
Governor Evers has directed the WEDC to create a new division called the Office of Rural Prosperity. This division will focus on a number of issues, including broadband expansion.
MADISON - University of Wisconsin President Ray Cross asked Gov. Tony Evers and legislative leaders Wednesday to call a special session of the Legislature to allow for UW to borrow money through a line of credit and possibly start classes earlier to help deal with "unprecedented financial and planning challenges" due to the coronavirus pandemic.
MADISON - Wisconsin environmental regulators will consider high-capacity wells' impact on surrounding water bodies when issuing permits, aligning with Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul's stance on the issue.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry (RAFP) dispersed hundreds of boxes of food to community members Wednesday. A line of cars could be seen stretching from the pantry all the way to Home Depot.
Linda and Henry Delisle were some of the many waiting in line for their box of food.
"We've never done this before," said Linda.
Normally, people qualify for the food pantry based on their income. But on Wednesday, anyone in need could come pick up a box of food, no questions asked. General manager Jane Motowski said it's all thanks to a program called 'Farmers to Families.'
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a tougher charge against the police officer at the center of the George Floyd case and charged three other officers, delivering a victory to protesters galvanized by a death that roused racial tensions and unleashed coast-to-coast unrest.
The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd's neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder. The three other officers at the scene - Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao - were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All four were fired last week.
NORTHERN WI - The State of Wisconsin will start to take applications for money to help small businesses get back on their feet.
The 75 million dollar "We're All in Small Business Grant" intends to touch 30 thousand small businesses--distributing 2,500 dollars to each one.
The Oneida County Department of Economic Development says the money will be focused on all areas of Wisconsin including the Northwoods
"The great news is this is not a first come first serve program, it's done really by area and by need," director, Jeff Verdoon,said. "The aid will be divided up by region so we have a good chance for our businesses up here to be able to receive the money."
During the safer at home order, local businesses could apply for small businesses loans, but some had trouble getting approved--others couldn't qualify.
The Rhinelander chamber of commerce which will work closely with businesses applying, says this program is much different from other grants, executive director Lauren Sackett added.
"Some of those other grants require you to already have financial loans," Sackett said. "[The We're All in Grant] will also look at who has already received funding to try and determine essential businesses who may have been missed."
Unlike different programs that may have more restrictions and requirements, local businesses find this application process fairly easy.
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