Rural central Wisconsin was hit hard by the economic upheaval felt by many midwestern communities. In unprecedented fashion, residents united to rebuild their lives, livelihoods and their community. Together, 2,000 residents designed the Tribune, a social enterprise unique in both its development process and resulting purpose, as a resident-led, community-owned source of good jobs and great lives. Support for the Tribune's renovation will launch this powerful symbol of renewal in rural America.
In the early 2000s, rural Central Wisconsin was devastated by the sale of its major employer, a century-old Fortune 500 paper company. The community lost 40% of its jobs in five years and felt a 22% decrease in median family income. Amidst a vacuum of leadership, innovation and community identity came a decimation of local businesses and life as usual. The economic crisis exposed a need to overhaul how we operate as a community and member of a global economy. Residents are now united for change.
In 2012, Incourage purchased a vacant 25,000 sq. ft. downtown riverfront property. Two thousand residents then came together to design the Tribune-a community-owned development featuring a training microbrewery/pub, instructional kitchen/cafe, recreational rentals facility and indoor/outdoor event space-all of which foster entrepreneurial skill-building, and rebirth of a community identity. The Tribune gives residents the power of self-reliance, cohesion, and long-term economic resiliency.
The Tribune is an innovative, localized resource that will grow good businesses, great jobs, and exponential opportunities in rural Wisconsin. It is more than just a building; it is a gathering of unprecedented resources and a transformation of traditional local decision-making processes. The Tribune's resident-led and community-owned model will show state and local leaders nationwide that resident ownership is a competitive and sustainable way to grow small town economies in rural America.
This project has provided additional documentation in a DOCX file (projdoc.docx).