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Annual Report 2011: Your Connection to a World of Resources

Connecting communities to solutions

Attracting young workers, stimulating economic growth

photo of skiiers in Gogebic Range area of northern Wisconsin

Participants attend an outing sponsored by the Go-In Forward social networking group

The Gogebic Range region boasts awe-inspiring natural beauty and opportunities for recreation. But keeping and attracting younger workers in the area has been a challenge, causing a decades-long population decline - until now.

Will Andresen, community resource development agent for Iron County Cooperative Extension, has focused on unlocking the area's potential by engaging the community -- hundreds of young people and local residents, area chambers of commerce, local governments, partners and agencies -- to leverage community assets to support and sustain the community's renaissance.

Key outcomes included:

  • Engaging and involving youth in the future of their community
  • Establishment of local working groups to implement community change strategies
  • Shifting local paradigms on why young people leave and do not return, as well as creating a belief that positive change can occur in Iron and Gogebic counties
  • Locally applied research that leads to targeted education, community engagement, and transformational change

As a result:

  • Two counties from two states are collaborating to create a multi-use trail system to attract young people to the area
  • A website and marketing campaign promote the range as a great place to live for the target market of young people seeking an adventure lifestyle:
  • Service-learning and place-based education better connect high school and college students to community assets
  • Enhanced social and networking opportunities exist through a young professionals' organization