The 7 Rivers Alliance is a tri-state leadership council dedicated to regional economic growth by fostering collaboration in Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota, and Northeast Iowa.
The 7 Rivers Alliance brings together public and private resources to forge entrepreneurial growth and serves as a clearinghouse of vital information to enhance quality of life in the region.
Our Value Proposition
The 7 Rivers Alliance is the only economic development membership organization for the Upper Mississippi Region that is dedicated to economic development across geographic and state boundaries. We understand that the needs of businesses and workers are not limited to zip codes and municipal boundaries.
With our tri-state Board of Directors we are able to convene community and business leaders to grapple with and strategize solutions for complex regional policy issues.
The 7 Rivers Alliance was created by the entrepreneurial spirit that lives in the 7 Rivers Region. Area leaders understood the connection that exists between the natural beauty and recreational opportunities in the region and the way in which it inspires leaders to launch and grow businesses. It is this connection to the natural beauty of the region that drives our love and loyalty to the area.
The 7 Rivers Alliance business leaders learned early on that good things happen to their businesses when they surround themselves with clusters of companies with similar and complimentary expertise. They share knowledge and people that help grow existing businesses and launch new ones. Some of our leaders, quite naturally, pursue and build careers elsewhere, but are often drawn back to the 7 Rivers Region to begin new entrepreneurial dreams or return to help other existing business clusters.
Our Board of Directors consists of the region’s top business leaders. They understand the importance of investing their time and their company resources to attract like businesses to the region to collaborate and help each other learn, grow and build upon the natural loyalty to the area.
The 7 Rivers Alliance took root in 1999, when the Technology Business Alliance (TBA), led by WWTC (now Western Technical College), began addressing technology development opportunities in the La Crosse/Southeast Minnesota region. Nineteen organizations contributed $1,500 each in seed money to match a Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) grant to build technology capacity in our area. A feasibility study led to the proposal of a membership-based alliance of public and private organizations to coordinate and support technology growth activities. In 2001 Marsha Kurth was hired as the group’s executive director and a Board of Directors formed shortly afterwards. Members would participate in a listserve.
In 2001 the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the La Crosse Tribune, and several other organizations contributed funds for development of the “7 Rivers Region” brand as a rallying point for regional collaboration.
The region was awarded Wisconsin Technology Zone status in 2003, an effort coordinated by the La Crosse Area Development Corporation (LADCO) with the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission (MRRPC) and the UW-La Crosse Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
The 7 Rivers Alliance named our first Board of Directors in 2004 and adopted our bylaws in 2005. The following year, the United Coulee Region, a former partner organization dedicated to government collaboration, dissolved and donated their fund balances to the 7 Rivers Alliance.
In 2013, the 7 Rivers Alliance took over the convening role for ECO DEVO, a group uniting economic development professionals in the 7 Rivers Region for economic prosperity through networking, sharing information, cluster development, and for grant writing purposes.