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 Market Analysis
  • Baraboo 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)

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.

Resources for Starting a Business in Sauk County

  • Let’s Talk Business – A newsletter put out by the UW-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development, Let’s Talk Business covers a wide variety of topics. The newsletter is available online from the UW-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development.

Wisconsin Small Business Development Centers

The Small Business Development Centers provide educational assistance to strengthen small business management. This service is available at twelve of the 4-year UW campuses. Specialty centers include:

  • Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation –
    Uses technology Transfer to connect entrepreneurs with “unused” technology from large companies.
  • Center for Innovation and Development –
    Helps small businesses with prototype development.
  • WI Innovation Service Center –
    Specializes in new product and invention assessments and market expansion opportunities.
  • Wisconsin Business AnswerLine: (800) 940-7232
    Provides entrepreneurs access to resources of the Wisconsin SBDC Network.

 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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