Economic Development

The following are a list of economic development tools and programs available in Sauk County through UW-Extension:

Downtown and Business Market Analysis

The market analysis is designed to help local business leaders, entrepreneurs, developers, and economic development professionals understand the changing marketplace and identify business and real estate development opportunities that are realistic and make sense for their communities. To learn more click here.

  • Sauk Prairie Market Analysis
  • Baraboo Retail Market Analysis
  • Riverfront Revitalization Survey – A baseline survey of Baraboo residents was conducted in 2007 to begin to evaluate the impact of the WI Department of Commerce funding. Another survey will be conducted after the riverfront revitalization has been completed. Click here for 2007 survey results.
  • Baraboo Labor Skills Survey– High School students and graduates are a vital part of the Sauk County workforce. In order to ensure that their skills and knowledge sets meet the needs of local businesses and industries, the School District of Baraboo, the Sauk County UWEX, the Sauk County Development Corporation and the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a labor skills survey. (Brochure inside and brochure outside)

Economic Impact of Natural Resource Nonprofits

Sauk County is widely recognized for its diverse natural resource gems and a long history of conservation efforts. Recently a number of natural resource-related organizations and economic development entities from the Baraboo area gathered to discuss how they can collaborate and better support each other. This assembly, known informally as “Fostering Collaborations,” formed a work group to assess the economic impact of all the natural resource-related organizations operating in Sauk County. A survey was sent to these organizations to measure their economic impact (wages, jobs, etc.) and the survey included general questions about land holdings, visitors, and volunteer hours donated throughout 2016.

Freight Rail Research

The University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX) in Sauk County has collaborated with the Pink Lady Rail Transit Commission (PLRTC) to conduct periodic surveys of rail users on the Merrimac to Reedsburg freight rail line (26 miles) since 1988. The purpose of this effort is to track rail usage and assess the economic impact of the rail line to Sauk County’s economy. Over the years, this partnership has produced significant impacts. Previous reports have helped prevent the Chicago & North Western Railway’s rail abandonment in the 1990s. This work also influenced the State of Wisconsin’s decision to purchase the Madison to Reedsburg rail line in 2014. In 2016 the PLRTC requested that UWEX conduct a five-year follow up to their 2010 study.

How fast is your internet? Check out the results of UWEX’s broadband demand survey conducted in the Spring Green area.

Access to high-speed broadband Internet is essential to the future success of our rural communities.  It creates economic growth, expands access to quality healthcare, enhances educational opportunities, and improves our quality of life.

Sauk County UWEX designed and conducted an Internet demand survey that asked residents in the village and town of Spring Green about their current Internet service and their need for high-speed broadband. The detailed information gathered was used to support a PSC Broadband Expansion Grant application (  The response from Spring Green was loud and clear.

Check out what they said in the 2018 Spring Green Internet Report Final.

First Impressions Program

In this community improvement program volunteers from two similar communities (size, location, county seat, etc.) agree to do unannounced exchange visits and then report on their findings. Participants became “secret shoppers” for the day to discover what they can about their sister city. They follow procedures and reporting guidelines in a fully developed manual, which is copied for each participant. The manual helps ensure that the evaluations and reports are thorough and somewhat uniform and minimize the training of volunteers.

Community Economic Development Preparedness Index

The CEDPI helps communities analyze their strengths and weaknesses before developing a plan to improve economic development opportunities in the community. Index results provide a reflection on your community’s readiness to retain existing businesses and income; attract new businesses, residents, and income; and expand small businesses and income within the community.

Design Reedsburg Final Report

On May 4, 2017, a group of 21 planning and design professionals found their way to Reedsburg, Wisconsin to dedicate their time and expertise in hopes of helping the community discover their shared vision for the future.  The Design Reedsburg Final Report documents the outcomes of the Design Wisconsin Team’s visit.

Jennifer Erickson, Professor and Community, Natural Resource & Economic Development Educator for Sauk County, has provided the community with the technical support necessary to bring the Team to Reedsburg and will be assisting the community with implementation after the Team leaves.  To learn more or if you have questions, please contact Jennifer Erickson at 608-355-3252 or

Next Generation Report

Sauk County and its Economic Development Committee launched an initiative in mid-2015 to
learn more about the desires of adults, ages 25-35, and how to attract and retain them to live and
work in the county. The initiative, called Next Generation Sauk County, is the county’s first
placemaking area of focus. Placemaking has been described as the process of creating quality
places in which people want to live, work, play and learn.


  •  Additional Links:

For more information please contact:
Jenny Erickson
Sauk County – UW Extension
West Square Administration Bldg
505 Broadway
Baraboo, WI 53913-2404
Phone: 608-355-3250
Fax: 608-355-3550

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