News & Media

“Vital Signs 2013” inserted in Daily Tribune

Sat. Jul 13, 2013

Vital Signs 2013 – a snapshot of our area – is included in the July 13 Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune

Daily Tribune editorial by Kelly Ryan, CEO, Incourage Community Foundation

Pay special attention to the inserts in today’s paper – among the sales and advertising there is an important report that impacts all of us in south Wood County.  Included with every Daily Tribune is the third edition of Vital Signs. This annual, 24-page report is a snapshot of our area. In essence, it’s a snapshot of us — the people and institutions that make up the south Wood County area. Inside you’ll find up-to-date information about south Wood County’s schools, businesses, its economy and the engagement of its residents. Vital Signs tells us where we’ve been and where we’re going. At Incourage, we continue to invest in this project because we believe good data is needed to make good decisions and measure impact.

As you flip through its pages, take note of the places where we succeed. The latest edition shows that our area continues to be a beautiful and vibrant place to live. Our high school dropout rate is lower than state and national averages, while the percentage of our residents who’ve earned an associate degree is higher. Crime is low in our area, with society crimes falling 30 percent over the last six years, and OWIs falling by 32 percent. We also care about one another. Volunteerism increased in 2012, with the United Way of Inner Wisconsin reporting 193,000 hours worked — the equivalent of 96 full-time jobs. But while you celebrate our successes, please acknowledge the challenges (and opportunities) the data presents in areas like our changing manufacturing employment base and our aging population.

The report also highlights important community partnerships, including: Workforce Central, an ongoing initiative to match worker skills with employer needs; a forward thinking Regional Economic Growth Initiative (REGI) that seeks to promote collaboration across all sectors toward common economic growth strategies; and a new Business Education Partnership designed to increase communication, improve understanding of each other’s needs and coordinate investments targeting areas of local job growth and industry needs.

I mention just a few of the efforts underway in our community.  I’m sure you are aware of more. The data in this report is not meant to sit on a shelf.  It is meant to spur conversations, partnerships and action.

Use this report to begin a conversation about an issue important to you.  Talk to your neighbors, friends, local institutions and elected officials. Help create a movement of informed and engaged residents who care about the future of this community and all of its residents. Let us know how we can help.

Kelly Ryan’s blog >>


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  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.