SHAWANO - A long-range plan is underway to create jobs and turn around the Shawano area's unemployment.
It is one of the areas highest at almost 9 percent.
The program is called Vision 2017, and its goal is to create 1,000 jobs over the next five years.
A check for more than $758,000 means the investment group Vision 2017 is ready for business.
"We are not going to sit by and wait to see how things shake out in Madison, or in Washington. We are going to proactively move forward and help our local businesses grow," said Nancy Smith, Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce.
The $1.27 million program is a joint venture of public and private organizations in the Shawano and Menominee Counties.
Four strategies will focus on business. This includes loans, tax credits and incentives for employers.
Tourism and retail development will include a program called shop local.
Community development will include worker training programs.
Campaign administration will handle investments and expenses related to the initiative.
"We're looking at generating 1,000 jobs over five years. That equates in the fifth year to about $22 million of disposable income that is going to, in stages, begin circulating through this economy," said Dan Miller, Vision 2017 co-chair.
"If it means we're helping companies create jobs, we're helping entrepreneurs launch new enterprises. The bottom line is improving the quality of life for people who live and play here," said Steve Sengstock, Shawano County Economic Progress, Inc.
Wisconsin Film and Bag is an example of what this program will be designed to do. The company had planned to expand out of state, but a $1.8 million loan through the state changed the game.
"That kind of support and thinking allowed us to change our strategy and say we're staying in Shawano, and we're making it bigger," said Jim Feeney, Wisconsin Film & Bag president.
Jim Feeney says 46 new jobs will be created. Feeney owns the company, and is co-chair of the initiative.
"We also want to show the rest of the state how good we are. That's part of the initiative as well. We're facilitating, we're making our area better for others to consider what we already know," said Feeney.
Leaders of the initiative say they hope to contact two hundred more businesses in the coming months.
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