Executive Summary & Highlights


On November 9, 2005 more than 135 Sawyer County citizens gathered to create a vision and strategies for our economic future. This diverse group representing various groups, organizations, and perspectives learned about regional, national, and global influences on our economy and then identified vision themes and actions for achieving our economic future. The idea and need for an economic summit was borne out of the Sawyer County Economic Development and Planning Committee and was supported by the Sawyer County Board. Presenting and facilitating at the summit were staff members from UW-Extension and from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Summit Presentations

Several themes emerged from the economic summit presentations that we must factor into our economic development efforts and initiatives. Major themes emerging from the presentations include:
  • Our aging population at the county, state, and national level will have a significant impact on our economic future and services.
  • The population of northwest Wisconsin is notably older than that of the state and nation. The older population impacts the demand for goods and services.
  • Population growth in Sawyer County has been and will continue to be due solely to the in-migration of residents.
  • Wages in Sawyer County are lower than state averages across all major occupation groups.
  • Our workforce participation rates are greater than average, but the size of the labor force in northwest Wisconsin is projected to peak in the near future and then decline in size.
  • Regional economic approaches and strategies are a recommended response to globalizing markets.

Vision Themes for Our Economic Future - 2025

Several vision themes were summarized and consolidated into key themes for action planning and further development. The vision themes that follow attempt to capture and summarize the many thoughtful and articulate individual vision statements developed by summit participants.

In 2025:

  • Sawyer County citizens, organizations, and governments plan, cooperate, and work together effectively and efficiently to achieve our outstanding quality of life both locally and within northern Wisconsin.
  • Natural Resources and Lakes are the backbone of our economy and are recognized as fundamental to our economic future and quality of life.
  • Business and economic development are supported and appreciated. A long-term, sustainable development approach builds a strong and lasting economic base. Entrepreneurs are encouraged and appreciated and small, local businesses contribute to higher paying wages. Tourism and recreation opportunities abound contributing to peoples desire to live here.
  • Quality programs and services help meet the needs of Sawyer County citizens and build a strong and stable economic base. Human services, public transportation, affordable housing, and opportunities for seniors contribute to our diverse social fabric.
  • Education is valued, available, and vital to our growing economy. There are quality formal and informal educational opportunities for all ages.
  • Sawyer County is unique. Its quality of life, culture, history, and heritage create a location where people aspire to live, work, and recreate.