Ideas into reality: Public-private partnerships build the future

30 Oct 2023


Too often, initial discussions of community challenges can devolve into frustrating criticism sessions that reach a dead end, leaving opportunities for change in the dust. But across Wisconsin, communities are finding ways to move beyond complaining into a constructive approach to building the future. Community officials discussed their route to success at WEDC’s Wisconsin Economic Summit in Appleton on Oct. 24.

In Jefferson County, for instance, employers are having trouble recruiting employees because of a housing pinch.

Tina Crave, president and CEO of the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation, said the first step toward a solution was conducting a study that found the area is 3,500 units short of the housing it needs. The foundation partnered with Thrive Economic Development, WEDC, and Jefferson and Dodge counties to form the Heartland Housing Initiative, a program to bring hands-on housing development assistance to municipalities there. Heartland is funded with federal, county, and philanthropic funds to help overcome the lack of capital that was a barrier to more housing development. Last September, it rolled out a revolving loan fund to help spur housing development.

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