SPARTA, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- Monroe County wants to attract new business in an effort to expand the tax base and lower unemployment.
How to accomplish that was the subject Thursday during the second annual Economic Development Conference in Sparta.
John Tessmann, the general manager of Band Box Cleaners and Laundry, a more than 5-decade old company based in Tomah, attended the conference. Band Box employees about 120 people.
"A couple of things have been great assets to us in Monroe County. One is the people," Tessmann said. "We have a fantastic workforce, great work ethic here."
According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, unemployment in Monroe county, as of December 2012, was 6.4 percent. That means the county ranked 45th out of the 72 counties in the state.
"We just have to tell people what we have," said county board supervisor Sharon Folcey. "We're like a best kept secret sometimes."
"When I look at our manufacturing base in Tomah where we're located, I see great growth potential," Tessmann said. "We have great housing, great school systems. Great manufacturing areas that are vacant now where we can add new businesses."
Tessmann says for his company, Tomah is ideally situated for shipping.
"We encompass nearly the entire state of Wisconsin on the transportation side, with the trucking of our products," Tessmann said. "So when we can easily access 90 and 94, it's a great plus for us."
In order to encourage companies to set up shop, Monroe County plans to hire an economic development coordinator.
"If people do want to come here and expand their businesses, they don't have to go through call this person, no this person. This will be the person," Folcey said.
Folcey says she's confident in what the county offers; now it's about coordination and getting the word out.
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