Craft Brewery Day 2020

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EDC Proclaims September 24 as Craft Brewery Day in St. Croix County

At its September meeting, the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board of directors unanimously proclaimed Thursday, September 24, 2020 as Craft Brewery Day in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

The EDC will recognize six micro-breweries in the county with proclamations signed by the board president and executive director. The breweries are Rush River Brewery (River Falls), Pitchfork Brewery (Town of Hudson), Oliphant Brewery (Somerset), Bobtown Brewhouse & Grill (Roberts), and Hop & Barrel (Hudson). The proclamations will be mailed to the breweries. A special, in-person delivery to one of the breweries has not been ruled out.

The proclamation points out craft breweries provide significant opportunities for community and economic development. In many cases, breweries renovate and occupy underutilized or vacant commercial space, sometimes providing additional sparks for other businesses to invest in nearby properties. Breweries are tourist destinations and become a community gathering spot or a place to enjoy local music and food.

Statewide, craft breweries make a big impact. They contribute around $9 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year, along with 62,000+ jobs and $2.5 billion in wages and benefits.

Like many businesses, breweries have felt the impact of the economic downturn. Owners used creativity and offered curb pick-up service for cans and growlers to go. Brewers and owners continue to help one another by answering questions and offering assistance.

The EDC asks residents to consider a pick-up order or in-person stop at taprooms on September 24th, recognizing the importance of social distancing and commonsense health practices.

Whether enjoying a lager, pilsner, pale ale, IPA or stout, please do so responsibly.

For questions or comments, please call St. Croix EDC at 715.381.4383.

2020 Census – Size Matters


2020 Census – Size Matters


With little fanfare, the 2020 census got underway on January 21st in a tiny community along the Bering Sea called Toksook Bay, Alaska. It is so remote that the census bureau director from Washington, D.C. was late to his own ceremonial kick-off event. Lizzie Chimiugak Nenguryarr, a 90-year old elder in Toksook Bay, was the first person counted, leading up to the estimated 334 million people across America participating in the census.

The decennial census is coming to a town, village, city, urban, or rural area near you, too. Mark a calendar – April 1st is National Census Day. No word on school and government closings, however.

The data collected from the census helps the federal government determine financial resources distributed to communities for roads, highways, schools, and hospitals. Can you say $675 billion in federal dollars annually? Developers can use the census information to make investment decisions. Local governments will use the data for planning and public safety. An average citizen will use it for quality of life initiatives or research leading to new or amended ordinances.

The origin of a national census is found in the U.S. Constitution. Our nation’s founders devised a creative plan to empower people over their new government (Wait. What?). The plan was to count every person in the U.S. and use the information to determine representation in the fledgling Congress. The goal was first accomplished in 1790 and has continued every 10 years.

Today, there are 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. From the 2020 census, some states will gain representation and others will lose. Take California for example (it’s yours, take it). Even with its large population base, a congressional seat may be lost in California. Minnesota is in jeopardy of losing a seat, too. West Virginia may lose two seats and Texas could gain two. As many as seventeen state dominos could fall – some tipping forward; some falling behind.

The Census Bureau has a December 31st deadline to deliver findings to the sitting president. This marks the beginning of congressional reapportionment, which goes into effect for the 2022 mid-term elections. The data used for state and local redistricting will be available on March 31, 2021.

An undercount of people is always a reality. The Census Bureau will spend $500 million on a public education and outreach campaign with more than 1,000 ads to reach 99 percent of U.S. households. A tagline, “Shape your Future. Start here” was created to bolster awareness and participation. Videos in 59 non-English languages are available to explain how to fill out the forms. Languages range from Thai to Tamil and from Italian to Hindi. In short, the Census Bureau wants everyone counted.

Back to Toksook Bay and Lizzie the elder. The census from ten years ago estimated Toksook Bay’s population at 590 people. By 2017 the estimate was 661. Toksook Bay is not only holding its own, it is growing. To encourage participation from Alaska’s indigenous groups, the 2020 questionnaires were translated into the Yup’ik language. Elder Lizzie appreciated that. The 2030 census is just around the corner for Lizzie.

Here’s to being counted in the weeks ahead. Shape your Future. Start here.

American Pie


American Pie


Whether it’s East L.A. or East Overshoe, there may be occasional coffee shop chatter that your community is on the brink. First, don’t believe it. And second, find inspiration in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In early 2011, Newsweek magazine published a list of America’s dying cities. Grand Rapids, sometimes referred to as Bland Rapids, made the unenviable list. Seven years later, Rand McNally and even satellite intel suggest Grand Rapids is alive, well, and thriving.

Newsweek’s dire prediction for Grand Rapids led to outcry among its residents and civic leaders, starting at the top with the mayor’s office. He challenged his constituents to prove Newsweek wrong. Along came a barely 20-year old community college student named Rob Bliss. Through corporate sponsorships and fundraising, Bliss produced a ten-minute lip dub video set to Don McLean’s classic ballad, American Pie. For McLean, the untimely deaths of young rock and rollers Buddy Holly, Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1959 was the day ‘the music’ died. Good enough for McLean; good enough for Bliss.

By mid-2011 the Grand Rapids lip dub was released and immediately became a viral sensation on YouTube. Video scenes wove through downtown Grand Rapids and Bliss used 5,000 participants, including firefighters, police officers, city officials, hankie-waving co-eds, pillow fighters, a wedding party, gymnasts, nerf gun battlers, kayakers in the river, news vans, a marching band, fireworks and sparklers, and a local football team. Each took a turn lip-dubbing the lines of American Pie. The video ends with an aerial scene from a helicopter. The hillside of an urban park reads, ‘Experience Grand Rapids’ which was the subtle message all along. The late Roger Ebert had a long career as a film critic. He called the lip dub “The Greatest Music Video Ever Made.” It has 5.7+ million views.

Grand Rapids enjoyed its moment in the media spotlight as feel good stories were published or aired. By 2013, it made several new lists – ‘Most Livable’ and ‘Happiest City’. The story of Grand Rapids, Michigan is still being written. Let’s hope your hometown can say the same.

As a post script, watch the video here. If compelled, sing along or at the very least, lip dub it. As for the video’s creator, Rob Bliss grew up and runs Rob Bliss Creative in New York City, specializing in viral messaging.