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Wood County may consider county-wide economic development approach


WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAU) - It’s possible that economic development in Wood County could become a unified effort instead of communities working independently like they do now.

The Wood County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Marshfield’s economic development leaders. County Board Chairman Lance Pliml says it’s possible there could be a more regional and focused effort. “We’ve had a number of different groups trying to accomplish, in many cases, the same end result and sometimes I think we’re chasing our own tail, so we’ve really made a concerted effort here through what is called the “Reggie” group out of Wisconsin Rapids which was funded by the Incourage Foundation with cooperation from the people out of Marshfield to really try to look at how we approach economic development.”

Pliml believes it’s time for an out-of-the-box approach to create some positive economic development, because what they have been doing for about thirty years hasn’t worked exceptionally well.

The Chairman says the challenge will be tying everything together the county has to offer. “We certainly have the medical community up in Marshfield, and a number of manufacturing plants up there. The paper industry is still a huge employer down here (Wisconsin Rapids), but how do we tie those things in between together and have a real concerted effort?”

Pliml says there may currently be some duplication in Wood County communities, as indicated in a Marshfield study. He believes at some point, the County Board will eventually vote to support an economic development person. “I’m guessing that you will probably see someone hired to probably coordinate economic development throughout Wood County, and I don’t know that this person would report directly to the Board (of Supervisors) but we would certainly be one of the groups responsible for funding a position like that.”

Pliml says no matter where economic development comes from in the county, it benefits everybody. It will be up to the County Board to vote on hiring a regional economic development professional, but he believes it would be money well spent.