Section 6: Economic Development Element
Town of Wheatland
Vernon County, Wisconsin

Wheatland residents identified the two most significant economic issues facing the town to be taxes and job opportunities.  70.4% of the planning survey respondents stated taxes were their number one concern; 40.5% of respondents indicated job opportunities.  Residential development concerns were next at 36.9% followed by recreation opportunities, quality of life, commercial development, and transportation.  Why plan for economic development?  Simply put, economic development helps pay the bills.

Economic development planning is essential to address these complex, inter-related issues.  Our standard of living, personal income, tax base, government services, and community well-being are tied to a balanced, healthy economy.  Economic development planning is an investment in the future.  Influencing and investing in economic planning allows citizens to determine the future direction and types of development in accordance with their values.


The table below presents data from the year 2000 U.S. Census for the Town of Wheatland and for Vernon County.  Census data provides a snapshot of the area’s economic base at that time.  Obviously, the upcoming 2010 Census will provide a more current and accurate data base to update and improve the town’s comprehensive plan.

The economic base for the Town of Wheatland is largely connected to jobs to which residents commute to outside the town.  The majority of these jobs are in manufacturing, construction, professional occupations, and service industries.  This trend is reflected throughout much of Vernon County.  The town has no large business or employment centers.  The town has small retail businesses, restaurants, and service providers.  The agricultural sector constitutes a significant economic sector in the town, but not in the area of employment.  In 2000, there were only 22 persons employed in the farming, fishing, forestry and mining job category.

Vernon County is experiencing a transformation from traditional rural jobs and farm employment to service and manufacturing occupations.  The increase in service oriented and health care related jobs is expected to continue as the population ages. Improvements in local roads and transportation have encouraged commuting to nearby areas that have more diverse and better paying job opportunities.  The economics of distant commuting could affect the population make-up of the town and its related economy depending on energy costs.

Positive influences on the town tax base are the increasing number of new seasonal and year-round homes being built.  Many of the new homes are being built by retirees attracted to the scenery and remoteness of the hilly topography, the Mississippi River, and the lower cost of living.  A potential negative effect on tax receipts are lands being placed in the State Managed Forest Lands category.

The recession of 2008/09 has had an adverse effect on the regional economy.  The unemployment rates for Vernon and Crawford Counties for May 2009 compared to May 2008 are 7.2% and 3.9% for Vernon County, and 9.2% and 4.6% for Crawford County.



The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis is a snapshot on current conditions to be recognized in short and long range comprehensive planning.  The SWOT analysis must be periodically reviewed and updated.  The information can then be used to review, modify, or change the comprehensive plan. This information is based on input from the SWOT worksheet filled out by the Planning Commission at the July 27, 2009 planning meeting, as well as on information developed during the course of preparing the various sections of the Plan.


Adjacent to Mississippi River, and on Great River Road
Large number of seasonal residents
Rural values, historical sites, and the Black Hawk Trail
Extensive farm land resource and its related economy
Tourism resources and activities, including Black Hawk Park


Shortage of developable land adjacent to Mississippi River
Lack of businesses to serve residents, visitors and tourists
No public land-based outdoor recreation for active sports
No trails
No active economic development assistance or services


Additional economic potential from tourism and recreational resources
Development opportunities in community of Victory and Red Mound
Tap the assistance from various public economic development programs
Need more exposure and promotion of the town and its assets
Ridge-top development consistent with preserving integrity of the land
Greater recognition of town’s national, state, and local historical significance


Continuing farm land loss
Industrial agriculture
Contamination of ground water and the natural environment
Growth in number of nuisance and blighted developments from lack of zoning
Lack of basic development standards due to lack of zoning
Misuse of land
Continued loss of tax base from new Managed Forest Lands designations
Loss of historic and archaeological resources
Uncertainties from old ash landfill site

The town’s planning goals as of 2009 do not include the identification of specific desired types of industries nor any designated industrial sites.  The settlements of victory and Red Mound have potential for continued business development, in addition to new tourism and recreational business locations throughout the town.  The continued development of farming and agricultural related businesses is an important element of future business location throughout the town.  There are no actively monitored sites related to environmental contamination.


1.County Programs
Support and participate in Vernon County economic development programs
Vernon County Entrepreneurs Program
Vernon Economic Development Association
Vernon County Highway Department
Vernon County Parks and Recreation Department
Vernon County Comprehensive Plan

2.Regional Programs
Programs of the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
Economic development programs of Dairyland Power and the rural Co-op
Economic development programs of Vernon County Electric Co-op.
United Coulee Region (7-Rivers Region)
Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE)
Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW La Crosse
Western Technical College

3.State Programs
Governor’s Grow Wisconsin Program
Wisconsin Development Fund—Technology Development Fund (WDF)
Wisconsin Development Fund—Major Economic Development Program (MED)
Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA)
Transportation Facilities Economic Assistance and Development Program
Workforce Connections, Job Training Partnership Act
Dept. Of Natural Resources programs
Enterprise Development Zone, WI Department of Commerce
Customized Labor Training Grant Program
Wisconsin Department of Transportation Highway Assistance Plan
WDOT Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP)

4.Federal Programs
HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) Public Facilities
HUD Community Development Block Grants, (CDBG) Economic Development
HUD Community Development Block Grants, Blight Elimination and Brownfield Development
Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service programs
Rural Economic Development (RED) Early Planning Grant
Historic Preservation Tax Credits
2008 Federal Farm Bill—Rural Development Section, including sewer and water
Federal Disaster Mitigation Act
Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA)
US Department of Agriculture (USDA)


1.Goals and Objectives
Establish an economic development plan to ensure local control.
Encourage and support local businesses to grow job opportunities.
Achieve unity of purpose in the tourism sector.
Improve infrastructure of roads, gathering places, recreation, and related facilities
Provide encouragement and support for agricultural farms, especially contract farms.
Ensure coordinated action of economic development planning with nearby towns, county, and state.
Encourage development of short term lodging opportunities to enhance tourism such as bed and breakfasts and camping 
Encourage and promote the Black Hawk Recreation Facilities as major tourist attraction to area.
Encourage development of handicap accessible fishing site near Victory.

Develop partnerships with the Village of De Soto, adjacent towns and Vernon County to ensure coordinated vision and 
actions on economic development.
Promote and explore programs to assist local businesses
Collaborate with local businesses to promote tourism.
Develop policies and standards to enhance and protect the town’s tax base.
Collaborate with the Corp. of Engineers to promote unity of purpose and protect the regional asset known as Black Hawk 
Use land use standards to preserve the agricultural lands, including family and rental farms.
Prioritize infrastructure improvements based on citizen input and comprehensive planning process.

3.Programs of Action
Use the Comprehensive Planning Process as required by Wisconsin State Statute 66.1001 to promote unity of purpose 
and coordination between towns, county, state and federal.
Review and utilize the applicable development strategies identified by the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission 
in their 2003 report entitled:  Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
Work with adjacent towns and Vernon County government for coordinated economic development projects.
Enact local land use standards to preserve and protect farm lands which contribute a significant part of the Wheatland
economy and atmosphere.  Continue to support and participate in the Friends of Pool 9 volunteer organization to sustain 
Mississippi River ecology.

Town of Wheatland
Vernon County, Wisconsin
Town of Wheatland Town Clerk - DeSoto, WI 54624
Office (608)648-3583   Fax (608)648-3584 

Town of Wheatland Comprehensive Plan

Section 6: Economic Development Element