ELLSWORTH -- Leaders from across Pierce County including River Falls, Ellsworth and Prescott spent a day and a half working together on economic development ideas. The event Feb. 4-5 explored creative solutions to solving many common obstacles rural communities face, including housing, broadband and capitalizing on local business experiences and service which consumers cannot find elsewhere.

Along with leaders from each community, the chamber of commerce and business leaders attended. The attendees spent 90 minutes in each community followed by a working session the following morning, according to a news release.

Each community has its own struggles, but the group's discussion continued to turn to the importance of housing and having available broadband and its impact on the community's future growth.

“Rarely is money the issue in moving a project forward. It’s often the leadership,” Zach Mannheimer of Alchemy Community Transformations said according to a news release. “The leadership I have seen from this group can help transform the region.”

Many of the leaders who attended the event believe that collaboration between the communities can make solving community problems and obstacles much easier for all involved.

Prescott recently held a planning session on housing, while other similar conversations have been happening in other Pierce County municipalities.

“The goal is not to replace any individual communities’ efforts, but rather to collaborate and partner to bridge common issues in Pierce County,” said Nate Boettcher, Pierce Pepin Cooperative’ president and CEO.

Access to broadband is currently a discussion that is picking up in popularity across Wisconsin. Housing options for people of all income levels is another popular issue.

“Working together and utilizing our collective abilities benefits all of the communities and our region. If River Falls does something, we can all learn and benefit and vice-versa with the other communities,” said Joe Folsom, executive director of the Pierce County Economic Development Corporation.

The group plans to revisit the discussion in the next couple of months to figure out if there is a project that can be worked on together by the communities.