Baraboo recognized for developing economy - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Baraboo recognized for developing economy


BARABOO (WKOW) -- The city of Baraboo is gaining national attention as an example of economic stability.

Baraboo is among about 70 other small towns across the nation featured in the book "The Economic Viability of Micropolitan America". It's written by Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in Virginia.

The book examines cities that managed and some that overcame the 2008 recession. Baraboo is categorized in the book as a "hub micropolitan city", one that stands on its own economically despite the recession, and is a center for regional growth.

Mayor Mike Palm credit's the city's can-do attitude and willingness to build on ideas that promote economic growth and new business.

"When others on the national stage look at us and say this is good, it gives us pause for thought and say, I guess we are going in the right direction," says Palm. "We've got a strong, diverse economy. Could we have more? Certainly, but we are building towards that and we are trying to find businesses that are absolutely good fits."

Sauk County Development Corporation's Executive Director Jim Allen tells 27 News Baraboo is appealing to businesses, especially large ones. Companies want to bring business to the area and add employees that have job security.

Unemployment is 5.7 percent throughout the county, which is lower than the state and national average. Allen says the recession didn't seem to affect the population in Baraboo, which is part of what the book examines. In fact, population went up about 30 percent in the 2010 census.

"I see nothing but great things in Baraboo's [future]. I think the industrial park will continue to grow, I think that we'll see new growth in the downtown area," says Allen. "We have seen in the past year quite a bit of increase in the expansion of our companies."

More entrepreneurs, like Mike Weckerly, are reaching out to find a home for their business in the area. Weckerly moved from Illinois to start his business-- a distillery and restaurant-- in Baraboo.

"It just had the mix of warmth of people to work with, we had a city who very much wanted our business but was still protective of this town and wanted to take care of it and that was obvious," Weckerly tells 27 News. 

Mayor Palm says the distillery is a good fit for Baraboo, it's future site next door to Circus World. It's already started bringing other entertainment-based interest to the area.

Palm says Baraboo already has a diverse economy, with strong manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare industries. Big businesses, like Sysco, have gotten their start in the small town and he hopes the future brings more prosperity.

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