In an effort to fill a vacant property in our downtown, the Ellsworth Community Development Corporation is testing out a concept – a non-profit retail shop to raise funds for community revitalization projects. Through your support, this has the potential to fund projects currently underway in our community! Current projects already in the works are walk/bike trails and a dog park, with future projects such as public art.

THE STORE
Shop an eclectic mix of home decor, art, antiques, books, clothing, and furniture in a range of styles and eras that you won’t find anywhere else! Also featuring a collection of Wisconsin and Minneconsin merchandise. The store will open on Saturday, October 19. Hours will be Fridays/Saturdays 10a-6p and Sundays 10a-4p through December 29, 2019.

VOLUNTEERS
We are asking for volunteers to donate their time to work store hours. Saturday, October 19 – Sunday, December 29. Fridays/Saturdays 10am-6pm, Sundays 10am-4pm. Each day is split into two shifts. Sign up here: https://signup.com/go/sEhRQhM

DONATIONS
We accept donations on behalf of our charity partner (Ellsworth E3), sell the items in our store, and then disburse the proceeds to Ellsworth revitalization efforts. Donations will be sought from the local community (personal and business).

DONATION DROP-OFF IS DURING OPEN STORE HOURS OR BY APPT. OR WATCH OUR FACEBOOK PAGE FOR SPECIAL DROP-OFF DATES/HOURS.

ACCEPTABLE DONATIONS
Household furniture
Home decor
Clean, new, or gently used adult clothing (quality items or vintage)
Jewelry and accessories
Art and collectibles
Antiques
Vintage vinyl and cassette tapes (with covers/cases)
Books (Current reads, hardcover, or vintage cookbooks)
Handmade items
Items should be in clean and sellable condition. Some items are subject to refusal.

UNACCEPTABLE DONATIONS
Unfortunately, we are unable to accept everything. Items that are broken, chipped, cracked, damaged, dirty, odorous, scratched, worn-out, stained, torn, wet, moldy, rusty, or frayed DO NOT SELL. Items that have spent numerous seasons exposed to pet hair or the elements DO NOT SELL. Items that have survived a month of garage sales DO NOT SELL. We are forced to haul items like these to the dump, which is costly and wasteful and takes away funds from our disbursements to revitalization efforts.

There are also several specific items that we cannot accept for a variety of reasons:
Children’s items
Baby & children furniture (unless antique or handmade)
Children’s clothing and toys (unless antique or handmade)
Cosmetics or toiletries
Electronics
TV’s
Outdated or broken media
CDs without jewel cases
Encyclopedias
Sheets, blankets, or sleeping bags
Towels
Bean bags
Box springs
Futons & sofa beds
Mattresses
Office furniture (cubicles, conference tables, filing cabinets)
Large desks (over 5 ft.)

Thank you for your support in this endeavor!

We have a very exciting tourism initiative taking place in our area!
Pierce County Economic Development (PCEDC) is working with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Tourism Research Institute to complete a research project with the goal of attracting greater tourism exposure to Pierce County.

Part of this project includes gaining a better understanding from community members on the local perceptions of tourism in our county. Local residents are invited to this special input session to help them answer the question, “How do you see Pierce County growing as a place for people to visit in the future?”

Ellsworth Community Meeting on Tourism
Thursday, April 4, 2019
6:30-8:00pm
Ellsworth High School Library (323 W. Hillcrest Street, Ellsworth)

All are welcome to attend this free community input session! We ask that you also spread the word to your neighbors. We’ve made sharing and inviting friends and family easy through our Facebook event here.

What does Tourism have to do with Ellsworth’s revitalization initiative?

Over the past two years, Pierce County has shown increases in consumer tourism spending. Yet, Pierce County ranks among the lowest in consumer tourism spending in the state. That means there’s nowhere to go but up and we have some great potential in this area–moving the needle in even a small way will mean millions of dollars funneled into our local economy! In addition, the same assets that attract tourists are what also make our community a great place to live and enhances the quality of life for local residents. That makes tourism a win-win for everyone!

As if we needed another reason to be proud of our community…

A recent study by financial technology company SmartAsset set out to find where people are donating the most money. The study measured how much people donate as a percentage of their net income, and the proportion of people in a given county who made charitable donations.

Pierce County ranked 6th among those donating the most in Wisconsin!

Thank you for having such big and kind hearts! You’re what makes our community a great place to live, work, and raise a family. With your help, we’re moving our community forward!

You can learn more about the study, including the methodology, here.

Since the kick off of Design Ellsworth, doors have been opening and opportunities have been presenting themselves for our community!

Recently, the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce was approached by Reba Krueger, Director of Red Letter Grant. Red Letter Grant is expanding their programs into Western Wisconsin with the hope of inspiring local women to start (or expand) businesses in Ellsworth.

Just 31% of businesses in Wisconsin are owned by women, leaving a gap rural communities like ours feel not only in ownership, but leadership and mentorship. We all know that there are many women making things happen within a household, within an organization, and within the community–but we don’t always see those women at the helm. Red Letter Grant was created to encourage more women to take risks to build a stronger more innovative region.

The main way they do this is through their $2,000 Red Letter Grant program. They also partner with local organizations to host small business workshops and networking events locally for women. The knowledge and connections gained through these events can give women the confidence to make their business dreams come true!

After Design Ellsworth, we’ve been hearing more and more women come forward with business ideas, or the desire to start one. But taking the risk can be hard for a variety of reasons. Reba shared that this is exactly what they hope to overcome through their programs.

To take advantage of what Red Letter Grant offers we could use some help and we are hoping we can count on you…

  1. We’re looking for 20-30 local women who have even the tiniest desire to start (or expand) their business in the area. The Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce is working to compile a list so they can gauge interest and will have a group of women to invite to local trainings and networking events. The hope is that eventually these women will be ready to apply for a Red Letter Grant and start their business. There’s no obligation or pressure–women who are curious and interested in exploring the possibility for themselves are the ideal candidates for this initiative. Who do you know? Is it you? Email the Ellsworth Chamber at eteam@ellsworthchamber.com for more information or to have your name added to the “Curious” list.
  2. Red Letter Grant and the Ellsworth Chamber will need some space locally for the networking and training events mentioned above. Red Letter Grant likes to patronize women-owned businesses. In Ellsworth, this poses a challenge. Typically networking events are held at a women-owned bar or restaurant. We may need to get creative. Do you have an off the wall idea or suggestion for training space or a social function for 20 enthusiastic women?
  3. Once things get rolling, we invite area business women to consider taking part. Your career experiences can do a lot to support other women. There might be a training opportunity you are interested in. Perhaps you could be a trainer or speaker at a workshop? Or maybe you’ve got a secret business (or expansion) idea you want to explore? For now, just be thinking on it!

This is an exciting opportunity that has the potential to change our community. Imagine what would happen if just 1-2 additional women-owned businesses were generated in our community–what a huge win! However, it’s not just about adding new businesses, it’s about creating new leaders in our community, too. That’s going to make the biggest impact on our community over time.

You can learn more about Red Letter Grant, and what they’ve achieved so far in the Chippewa Valley, on their website: https://www.redlettergrant.org/

If you’re to the point where $2,000 of start-up money would help get your business going, the deadline for their first round of grants for the year is Monday, May 6! If you’re not quite ready yet, there will be another opportunity in the fall. The Ellsworth Chamber has more information. And watch the Ellsworth Chamber’s Facebook page for opportunities for women to take part in Red Letter Grant trainings and networking events, or better yet, send an email to eteam@ellsworthchamber.com and ask to have your name added to the “Curious” list!

Consider it the Oscars of economic development for Pierce County! While there wasn’t a red carpet, the nominations and awards were just as exciting!

Our community was well-represented among the attendees AND the award winners. Our local Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce was the recipient of the 2018 Pierce County Cornerstone Award. The award recognizes extraordinary contributions to furthering economic development in Pierce County.

The Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival and the Design Ellsworth initiatives caught the eye of the nominating committee. The Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival made a $2.55 million economic impact to our region in 2018, and the 2019 event looks to be just as impactful! The event will remain in Ellsworth’s East End Park, with the overall footprint expanding into the East Ellsworth Business District. Why would we continue to hold the event in the downtown when we have such a beautiful county fairgrounds?

There are 3 main reasons and they also support Design Ellsworth’s goals. As the festival continues to grow, the Ellsworth Chamber and the Festival Committee remain steadfast in their goals for this event:

  1. Provide a proof of concept and exposure for our East Ellsworth Business District. If we provide unique and engaging experiences, businesses and customers will come.
  2. Provide economic impact for our downtown. More visitors equal more dollars spent in our town, leading to more successful businesses and economic growth and expansion.
  3. Be a catalyst for the revitalization of our business community. Thriving businesses increase our community’s tax base, allowing for quality of life improvements without increasing taxes for residents.

Considering that 57% of festival attendees come from the Twin Cities, bypassing our downtown would not support our downtown businesses or provide for economic development there. The Cheese Curd Festival is not only a fun festival, but it’s also an important economic development strategy!

Also, receiving an award at the Pierce County EDC Awards Banquet was YB Urban?. They were named Pierce County’s Small Entrepreneurial Star. How thrilling to see an Ellsworth business proving small businesses can not only survive, but actually thrive in our community!

And congratulations to the Ellsworth High School Fab Lab for receiving the Career Pathways Award. The innovation and training our students, and the community, are receiving through exposure to the Fab Lab’s equipment and technology is sure to lead to new inventions and innovative business concepts–our hope is that when that happens, Ellsworth is the community these students choose for their start-ups!

A big thank you to David Clarey, RiverTown Multimedia, for covering the Design Ellsworth Community Input Session on behalf of the Pierce County Herald. The event took place, Friday, October 19 at the Ellsworth Elementary School.

Design Ellsworth Input Session

Close to 275 community members attended the event. Attendees broke into groups and worked through thought-provoking questions such as, “Ten years from now, what’s one thing about Ellsworth you hope to brag about?” and “What should be Ellsworth’s next great community space?”

Design Ellsworth Answer Cards

Community members discussed many ideas. Some very specific such as a coffee shop with a drive-thru or a family restaurant, while others were more general in their wants, and curious to see how the event would unfold.

Design Ellsworth Input

Several participants mentioned the desire for a multi-functional property. This space would accommodate a new and larger library, senior center, teen hangout, and community center. Members of the Design Team commented on such a space being multi-purpose and a smart use of space. Since all groups would tend to use the space at different times (i.e. Seniors during the day, teens in the afternoons and evenings, the community on the weekends, etc.) the entire community would be served by the one location, making the space affordable for the community.

Design Ellsworth Community
Answers to the questions were all written on large pieces of paper and displayed on walls throughout the gym. Attendees then showed their support by voting with sticker dots. As a result, it was clear which items were the most popular.

For the full story from the Pierce County Herald, please click here.