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.
ANTIGO - What starts with a tumble, ends in neatly packed, ready-to-ship bundles in the Kretz Lumber warehouse. Twenty percent of it will go across the ocean to China, with tariffs tearing into the profit.
"Twenty-five percent of our sales to China was reduced and we still have the same amount of overhead that you have to cover no matter what the price is," said Troy Brown, President of Kretz Lumber.
Though China's tariffs will be gone Friday, Brown says the foreign timber market is much different now from a year and a half ago.
MADISON - Republican legislators and their fundraising committees finished 2019 with four times as much money in their campaign accounts as their Democratic rivals, according to a review government watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released Wednesday.
The review found that GOP lawmakers and their two legislative campaign fundraising committees - one for the Senate and one for the Assembly - ended the year with more than $6.3 million combined in the bank. Democratic legislators and their two committees finished with $1.6 million on hand.
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