"A small business voice for clean and plentiful water."
In this wonderfully watery state of Wisconsin, there are entire business sectors where environmental protection and economic growth are so integrally connected that businesses would be harmed, even driven to failure, if there was not a reliable supply of clean, plentiful water.
But we are distracted by a divisive and ultimately false argument that environmental protection hurts the economy and gets in the way of creating jobs.
Here are just a few ways that thoughtful water management has helped to keep small business growth healthy in Wisconsin:
In the Wisconsin Dells, tour boats would run aground without carefully regulating flows in the Wisconsin River to balance all uses.
Potato farmers count on plentiful and reliable groundwater to make their crop.
Lakeshore taverns and resorts need their water clean, not smelly and offensive to diners, boaters and vacationing families.
And what would a platter of fried walleye or perch at that lakeside tavern be without a fine Wisconsin craft beer? The livelihood of those craft breweries for which Wisconsin has become famous depends entirely on high quality water.
This doesn’t even take into account the outdoor industry economy in the state: the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars generated from paddling, fishing, swimming, hunting and wildlife viewing in Wisconsin.
The River Alliance of Wisconsin organized the Blue Water Business Consortium to:
Castle Rock Lake, Juneau County
Central Waters Brewing, and owner Paul Graham, is committed to being one of the most environmentally sustainable breweries in the country –from upstream product sourcing to downstream management of every step of the business. And they make some mighty fine Wisconsin beer.
Chequamegon Adventure Company has been outfitting paddlers, cyclists, boaters, skiers and all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts since 1997. With a wide range of rentals and used products for sale, the team at Chequamegon also offers great resources about local trails and outdoor fun options year round.
The mission of Door County Brewing Company, inspired by its surrounding landscape, is to create beers that lead to community and friends coming together no matter were you gather. The brewery aims to create great tasting, thought provoking, carefully sourced, eco-conscious beers that push the edge of the imagination and the senses.
The Driftless Angler is a full service fly shop and guiding service,centrally located in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin’s thousands of miles of spring creek trout streams. Mat and Geri Wagner are the proprietors.
Based in Madison, Fontana Sports Specialties is a locally owned, family operated specialty outdoor retailer with more than six decades of experience in the Midwest. They currently operate stores in downtown Madison and on the city's west side, as well offering as a robust online retail presence.
Nestled among the tall trees on the shores of beautiful Lake Thompson, Holiday Acres has been owned and operated by the Zambon family for more than 60 years. The vast acres provide a veritable playground for guests through all four seasons - whether enjoying the heated indoor pool, nature trails, water sports or dozens of other activities - with hundreds of cottage rental options and great spaces for dining, banquets and retreats.
Myrna and Dave Schneider operate a family-owned campground and boating livery on a private lake near the Upper Fox River. As business owners in Wisconsin's tourism industry, they intuitively understand that "people come here for the water." While the campground lets customers commune with nature in many ways, their outfitting business gets people paddling on the upper Fox -- an ancient water trail and section of that river few people know about.
The Isherwood family has been farming this property in Plover, Wisconsin since the 1860s, and Lynn and Justin have been on their farm for over forty years, nurturing a deep commitment to water and land stewardship. They were early adopters of the Healthy Grown potatoes initiative, to grow potatoes with less reliance on pesticides and fertilizers in a way that protects water quality. But they have also been leaders in melding stream restoration with their farming and in pushing for efficient water use and retention on their crops, both by partnering with university researchers and leading workshops to share their experience.
Bill King fell in love with the Northwoods of Wisconsin when he bought a lake home in 1972. A native of Chicago, "the call of the wild" lured him to settle in Bayfield County and, in 2002, he founded King Realty – drawing on and combining his diverse experience in tourism, hospitality, silent sports and construction. A local and independent real estate provider in a market dominated by larger franchise offices, King Realty is founded on King's commitment to the environment and to the environmental landowner's buying and selling needs. He leads a team that supports responsible land management practices that preserve wildness and beauty and add value to our great Northwoods natural resources.
Lake Louie Brewing, and its owner, Tom Porter are true products of the Wisconsin River. The Arena, Wisconsin native grew up in the area and built his craft brew business on family property where he played and swam. (Lake Louie is named for the pond on the property.) Tom is passionate about his water, where it comes from and where it goes. Aside from producing award winning beers, he is a passionate advocate of the Wisconsin River and the stewardship of our water resources.
Lake Petenwell, Adams County
Owners Tom and Joan Koren, who also operate Barnum Bay Marina, preside over a perfect place to settle in for a drink and a burger to catch a spectacular sunset over Lake Petenwell for their outdoor patio.
MKC, owned by Beth Handle, is a community-driven company with a goal of getting more people in kayaks to enjoy the privilege of seeing Milwaukee by water. This new company is a direct result of the successful cleanup and redevelopment of the urban Milwaukee River.
You'll always find a member of the Endersbe family when you stop at The Rivers Eatery. Family owned and operated since 2008, the restaurant - with all pizzas named for local rivers - has become a popular destination among the residents, visitors and silent sports enthusiasts for whom Cable is a gateway to the Chequamegon National Forest, Lake Superior, the Namakagon River, the Birkie ski trails and the CAMBA mountain bike trails.
Owner and brewmaster Bo Belanger’s fisheries science background and love of Wisconsin’s barley and hops “terroir” makes it easy to see why this gem of a brewery - a stone’s throw from Lake Superior - is inseparable from its place on the land and relationship to water.
Mike Coke, Owner and Founder of TFM Wisconsin, Inc. (Terra Firma) and Kirk Boehm are realtors who focus entirely on lake- and riverfront real estate in south central Wisconsin. As lakefront homeowners themselves, these guys are passionate about the beauty and value of our clean lakes and rivers and about getting involved as citizen-voices for water.
Underground Food Collective is the brainchild of Jonny Hunter, who has blended his passion for public policy and food into an award winning string of food businesses including Underground Butcher, Forequarter Restaurant, Underground Meats and Underground Catering. The collective works with more than one hundred small Wisconsin farms, returning around $800,000 to producers every year.
Wisconsin Canoe is the fastest growing canoe and kayak rental company in the Midwest, owned and operated by Ryan and Amy Schmudlach. WCC offers boat rentals and trip planning services to get you to your favorite sandbar on the Lower Wisconsin River.
Are you a business owner who cares about water issues? Click here for more information.