Dodge County Board Seeks to Expand Economic Development Staff

(Juneau) The Dodge County Board were recently updated on the Land Resources and Parks Department efforts to grow economic development. Last month, the board voted to terminate services with ThriveED. The organization was hired in 2017 to support local businesses and build a network that would attract new industries to the region. Over the last year several supervisors have voiced their concern that their invest in the non-profit did not yield a significant enough return. Others argued the work could be done in-house.

The vote to end their agreement with Thrive, rolled their operations into Land Resources and Parks. Currently, the department’s sole staff member for economic advancement is Community Development Administrator Nate Olsen. Department Head Bill Ehlenbeck says in order to expand their economic development efforts they need to give Nate Olsen some help. He says short of cloning Olsen, they believe immediate assistance is needed. The plan is to hire an experienced economic marketing and communications professional. This individual would lead the department in their multi-media marketing efforts, enhancing the county’s economic development website, as well as grant writing.

Ehlenbeck says they are currently developing job descriptions with the goal of bringing a resolution to create the position in front of the board in February. He says at this time, this is the only additional position they are proposing. Ehlenbeck says there are several key areas they are focusing their efforts on. This include engaging communities and businesses to work together, housing, broadband, and workforce issues.

Ehlenbeck says his department is working on ways to measure progress in these areas and encourage county board input. Land Resources and Parks will also hold several meetings with Thrive to discuss ongoing business projects.