The Creative Economy as a Catalyst for Growth

Embracing Innovation: The Creative Economy as a Catalyst for Growth

[Monroe, June 19, 2024] – Creativity plays a significant role in economic transformation. Rural communities have unique challenges that benefit from shared ideas, networking, and learning from one another. The recent Creative Economy Summit held in Monroe connected a diverse group from southwest Wisconsin to address economic development from a different perspective.

Hosted at the Monroe Arts Center, Create Wisconsin, Green County Development Corporation (GCDC), Lafayette County Economic Development Corporation, and Prosperity Southwest teamed up to sponsor a the summit aimed at generating ideas and conversation for economic development strategies in our communities.

Anne Katz, Executive Director of Create Wisconsin shared that Wisconsin’s creative sector, comprised of over 35 key arts and culture industries, contributed $11.9 billion to the Wisconsin economy, and employed over 89,000 workers. She pointed out the social impact that innovation and creativity have on our economy and how it builds a climate for businesses to succeed.

“A creative economy is not just about art and culture; it encompasses a wide array of sectors from technology and design to entertainment and beyond,” said Olivia Otte, GCDC Executive Director. “Partnering with others to share and create new ideas and solutions can be transformative for rural economies.”

Local leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, elected officials, community groups,  educators and others interested in discussing creative solutions and opportunities to help our region thrive came together for a morning of creative discussion and action planning. The consensus of the group was that collaboration and sharing of ideas to support one another in growing southwest Wisconsin in unique and diverse ways makes all our communities better.

“The summit aimed to establish a platform fostering bold ideas, experimentation, and empowerment for entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators. By cultivating an environment where creativity flourishes, we ultimately cultivate thriving communities.” Lafayette County Economic Development and Tourism Director, Allison Taylor said.

Understanding the expansive nature of the Creative Economy helps us all recognize that the impact of the creative economy extends far beyond economic metrics; it enriches societies, empowers individuals, and inspires progress.

Monroe to Host Creative Economy Summit

Monroe to host Southwest Wisconsin Creative Economy Summit

Bringing creativity together with economics fosters innovation and prosperity that are vital to sustainable economic growth. A creative economy includes arts and culture, and extends beyond to entertainment, architecture, advertising, technology and more.

On June 19th, Create Wisconsin will team-up with Prosperity Southwest, Lafayette County Economic Development Corporation and Green County Development Corporation (GCDC) to host the Southwest Wisconsin Creative Economy Summit.

The event will be held at the Monroe Arts Center, 1315 11th Street in Monroe from 9:00AM-12:30PM. Local leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, elected officials, non-profit and community groups, service clubs, educators and others interested in discussing creative solutions and opportunities to help our region thrive are invited to attend.

The purpose of the event is to bring together people in southwest Wisconsin who are involved in placemaking, community engagement, and economic and workforce development, to discuss the role of arts and creativity in economic vitality. By identifying current assets our communities can create economic action steps to grow opportunities for all in our communities.

To take part in this free event, please register at

Questions? Please call GCDC at 608-328-9452, or email


GCDC Annual Award Nominees and Winners Announced

GCDC Announces Annual Award Recipients


With record breaking attendance, Green County Development Corporation (GCDC) held their Annual Dinner & Awards on Thursday, March 21st at Turner Hall in Monroe. Attendees celebrated outstanding community and business leaders and included a presentation from Keynote speaker Missy Hughes from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

GCDC Executive Director, Olivia Otte welcomed over 200 people, revisited accomplishments of 2023, and recognized the 18 nominees from the three award categories. Otte also shared her vision for 2024, noting that Green County is what opportunity looks like!

Awards presentations followed for Outstanding Large and Small Business of the Year, Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, and the Richard B. Schmied Leadership Award.  The Outstanding Business of the Year, recognizes existing businesses that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the county’s economic growth through innovation, job creation, new investment, and/or extraordinary long-time interest in supporting other business.

The Outstanding Large Business of the Year was presented to Precision Drive & Control (PDC). PDC, a 100% employee-owned company based in Monroe was recognized for its commitment to Green County through business reach, employee growth and participation in local events. PDC has also recently been recognized by trade groups earning varied distinguished awards and recognition, representing the pride of the PDC employee-owners.

The Outstanding Small Business of the Year was presented to Dirty Dog Taphaus owners Leah Hansen-Kube and Keith Kube. The New Glarus business was recognized for making significant contributions to the economic growth and vibrancy of Green County through their innovative approach, dedication to the community, and commitment to excellence.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award honors an entrepreneur who leads the way for the business, demonstrating a growth mindset, a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn and find solutions to challenges, and a hunger for opportunity.  This year’s award was presented to Joey and Jordyn VanMatre. The VanMatre’s were identified as exemplifying the true definition of entrepreneur by taking risks and giving back to their community.  Together they own TruHome/Bath Planet, Sweet Serendipity, Smokin’ Joes’s, Iron Haus, Cheese Country Rentals, and Safe & Sound Securities. Joe is also an agent with Advantage Real Estate Group. They were major donors for the Monroe Splash Pad and give donations monthly to non-profit organizations.

The Richard B. Schmied Leadership Award commemorates Richard B. Schmied, a former New Glarus resident and business owner, remembered for the characteristics of selfless leadership he exhibited, and exemplifies the character of a true leader.  This year’s recipient was presented to Chad Kundert of Kundert Construction. Chad was nominated for his commitment to the success and well-being of his customers, employees, and company.  His leadership style is characterized by empathy, mentorship, and a genuine interest in the professional and personal growth of each team member. In addition, Chad actively engages in initiatives that benefit the community, demonstrating a sense of responsibility beyond the bottom line.

GCDC is proud to recognize all nominees (see below) and honor the commitment and dedication it takes to run a successful business and give back to their communities. The mission of GCDC is to promote and encourage economic growth while maintaining the quality of life that makes Green County, Wisconsin a great place to live and work. As a non-profit organization they are building the economic future of Green County communities and businesses through public-private partnerships.

For more images of the event, visit GCDC’s Facebook or LinkedIN pages.  You can find more information on GCDC online at or by contacting the office directly at (608) 328-9452 or email

This year’s Green County Award Nominees:

The Outstanding Business of the Year Award – honors an existing business that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the county’s economic growth through innovation, job creation, new investment, and/or extraordinary long-time interest in supporting others in business.

  • Brookly Barn
  • Ludlow Mansion & Events
  • Main Street Music & Events, Brooklyn
  • Pink Heifer Saloon & Smokehouse
  • SSM Health
  • Dirty Dog Taphaus
  • Decatur Cheese Plant
  • Precision Drive & Control

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award – honors an entrepreneur who leads the way for their business, demonstrating a growth mindset, a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn and find solutions to challenges, and a hunger for opportunity.

  • Tess Palmer, Trouvaille Coffee Co.
  • Angie Schumacher, Full Moon Brew Bar
  • Scott Mosher and Kyle Keehn, M&K Properties
  • Andy and Lisa Beach, Son of a Beach Beef, LLC
  • Joey and Jordyn VanMatre, TruHome and several other businesses
  • Chelsea Andrews, Nuturing Tree Learning Academy

The Richard B. Schmied Leadership Award – commemorates Richard B. Schmied, remembered for the characteristics of leadership he exhibited.  The winner of the award exemplifies the character of a true leader.

  • Trent Henning
  • Kasey Bruehlman
  • Dan Wegmueller
  • Chad Kundert

ChatGPT/AI workshop

Artificial Intelligence/Chat GPT  –  Workshop November 15th    chatgpt workshop new

Green County Development Corporation (GCDC) will be holding a free workshop focused on ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. This workshop is designed as a beginner friendly session for entrepreneurs and will be held on November 15 from 5:30-7:30PM at the Monroe Campus of Blackhawk Technical College

Heather Ferguson, Program Manager of Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at UW Madison will help participants gain a basic understanding of how generational AI thinks, help explore key components of effective AI prompts, and provide sample prompts and tools to use.

Prior to the session, participants should download the free app at to get the best experience. While phones can be used, it is highly suggested to bring a laptop if you are able.

This workshop is an extension of the Small Business Series offered by GCDC in the spring, with the goal of providing tools to help local entrepreneurs succeed in their business.

Registration for the event is required. Sign-up at or email the GCDC team at

Fall Breakfast a Huge Success

The Future of Agriculture Topic of GCDC’s Fall Breakfast

The future of agriculture was the topic of focus at Green County Development Corporation’s (GCDC) fall breakfast, held at Wegmueller Dairy Farm in Monroe. Sponsorship by Woodford State Bank, milk and ice cream from Farm First Dairy Cooperative, and a locally sourced breakfast provided by Kimmee’s Kitchen kicked off the event that included 80 state and local leaders, educators, and those with personal interest in preserving the rural lifestyle of Green County.

It is documented that the amount of family farms and farmland continues to decline.  By 2040 it is estimated that only five (5) percent of farms will be owned and run by independent farmers. The inability to stay competitive as a small family farm and shifting family careers have contributed to this decline. Survival depends on creativity and willingness to shift.  Dan and Ashley Wegmueller created an agritourism destination with Wegmueller Dairy Farm & “The Diary” Farm Stay for this reason. Their unique solution allows people to experience life on the farm with an experiential farmhouse stay surrounded by cows, horses, and incredible countryside views.

Agritourism is an avenue to the survivability of medium and small-scale Wisconsin family farms. The last week of September has been designated by the state as Agricultural Tourism Week, and Sheila Everhart, Executive Director of Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association (WATA) shared that WATA is celebrating 30 years in service, with Monroe and Green County being an instrumental leader in the growth and development of agricultural tourism in the state.

WATA honored the late Dave Kamholz, former Green County Ag Chest President & founding Board Member of WATA presenting an award to Mrs. Dave Kamholz of Monroe in his memory.   Dan and Ashley Wegmueller were also presented with a certificate of appreciation for their efforts in agritourism and protecting the future of agriculture.  Ms. Everhart encourages people to support and enjoy agritourism throughout the state. Information and year-round events can be found at

Dusty Williams, Ag Instructor at Blackhawk Tech shared that the fastest growing farms are greater than 1,000 acres or less than 50 acres.  He emphasized that exposing young people to all careers is instrumental in many fields, but especially agriculture. From an educational perspective, “Young people gain interest in careers when they are exposed to them, that is why we (Blackhawk) partner with Ag organizations and employers to educate and reach students of all ages. It’s going to take partnerships and investments in time, people, and resources to get students engaged in the agriculture industry at an earlier age. We must think outside the box to be able to provide future leaders in agriculture.”  Kalee Schaefer, a former student of Williams, and Herd Manager at Wegmueller Farm agreed, and shared her insights about her education and career path in the ag field.

Agriculture is a top economic driver in Wisconsin. 49.3% of our county’s total economic activity and generates over $2B.  The mission of GCDC is to promote and encourage economic growth while maintaining the quality of life that makes Green County a great place to live and work.  Events such as these create awareness and connection for continued conversation and action.

GCDC is a 501c3 non-profit organization dependent upon local investors and partners and can be reached through their social pages, their website at or by phone at 608-328-9452

Image (left to right): Dusty Williams (Blackhawk Tech), Ashley & Dan Wegmueller (Wegmueller Dairy Farm), Olivia Otte (GCDC Executive Director), Kalee Schafer (Herd Manager), Sheila Everhart (WATA Director).

Winning with Wisconsin Workforce

Please join us!  Register here:

The DWD is hosting a workforce event at Blackhawk Tech in Monroe to discuss strategies with business representatives, community leaders, and workforce development professionals to promote apprenticeships, teen employment, work opportunities for people with disabilities, and job center resources.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023
11:30-1:30 pm at Blackhawk Technical College, Monroe Campus

Lunch Will Be Provided

Don’t miss this chance to learn from workforce development leaders and discover new ways to
attract, develop, and retain top talent. Register now and secure your spot at this exciting event!

See full flyer here:  Winning With Wisconsin Workforce