Business and community leaders are focusing on northern Wisconsin this week. It's the second annual Northern Wisconsin Economic Development Summit. However you define it, northern Wisconsin has some unique challenges and opportunities, which will be discussed today and Tuesday at Lac du Flambeau. "The summit is a continuing discussion of key issues on the economy, jobs, and workforce development," according to Sarah Klavas, Wisconsin's Brand Manager with the Department of Tourism.
Klavas says tourism continues to play a major role in the economy up north, and that industry is getting a shot in the arm right now, with gas prices as low as they've been in months. Klavas says that makes northern Wisconsin an attractive destination for the target markets in Chicago and Twin Cities. "People need to get away from the stress environment that they're currently in, because of the economy," she says.
The conference isn't just about tourism, though. Again, Klavas says there are those challenges. "One of the big issues that surfaced in last year's first summit was the need for reliable broadband communication" says Klavas. That's still a problem in many parts of northern Wisconsin. Another hot topic this week: the impact of invasive species. "It's an environmental issue, but it's also a business development issue and it's certainly a tourism issue," according to Klavas.