EXPERIENCE: Our Projects

Industry Cluster Analysis for Lakeshore Region of Wisconsin

SeVEDS Advancing Southern VermontWith the support of the VE Alliance team, the EDC of Manitowoc County committed to launch a regional economic development initiative supported by the VE Alliance team and set S.M.A.R.T. goals.

In the spring of 2011, the EDC of Manitowoc County asked Jim Haguewood of the ViTAL Economy Alliance to facilitate a strategic planning session. This full-day event concluded with a number of key findings and recommendations.


  • Regional economic development efforts lack goals and measurement, and success has been thwarted by the lack of a solid business case
  • A plan should be developed to attract current and future investors into economic development
  • The region is not using asset-based economic development principles


  • EDC of Manitowoc County should create and adopt a regional economic vision and goals
  • Regional economic development should identify four priority industry clusters and engage business leaders in an action-oriented initiative
  • Create a blueprint before promoting the region


As a result of this strategic planning event, the EDC of Manitowoc County committed to launch a regional economic development initiative supported by the ViTAL Economy Alliance team. The Lakeshore Industry Cluster Initiative, which includes five counties on the shore of Lake Michigan (Door, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Kewaunee and Calumet), was launched in the fall of 2012. The initiative focuses on four industry clusters; agriculture, energy, tourism and manufacturing.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Since the start of the initiative, the region has established 2017 S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  • Increase population by 10% to 324,300
  • Maintain a 70% labor force participation rate
  • Increase regional average wage by 2.5% per year to $45,000
  • Realize 1,218 new jobs @ $49,500
  • Achieve 10,958 new jobs @ $45,000
  • Improve 16,685 jobs by $5,000 per year
  • Increase the 18-44 prime workforce by 7% (+6,489)


The project has conducted regional and industry specific asset mapping session with leaders, held industry-specific value chain mapping sessions and identified key niche markets. The niche markets and opportunity values by industry are as follows:

  • Agriculture (Dairy, Fruits & Vegetables, Farm Digester byproducts, Specialty grains) – $3.6M by 2018
  • Energy (Compressed natural gas from farm and food waste digesters, CNG for fleet fuel, CBG as a farm greenhouse fuel) – $207M by 2018
  • Tourism – (Extended-stay strategies, Birding and biking, Niche and branding touring,
  • Events and festivals) – $37.5M by 2018
  • Manufacturing (Fill value chain production gaps in the region, Convergence of metal and plastic manufacturing, Export opportunities, Workforce development) – $6M by 2018


  • Multiple “speed networking” events with the manufacturing industry cluster, raising awareness of regional capabilities
  • Compress Natural Gas regional summit
  • All industry cluster teams have goals and action plans
  • Wisconsin legislative impact of local food production
  • Regional dairy industry survey
  • Manufacturing capabilities survey and summary