The 7 Rivers Alliance is a tri-state leadership council that boosts economic growth by fostering collaboration in Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota, and Northeast Iowa. We are persistent advocates for keeping communication open and developing regional networks in the Upper Mississippi Valley through regional meetings and networking events. 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.
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.
Currently, the 7 Rivers Alliance has been working on workforce solutions including the program Inspire, and much more. We welcomed our new CEO, Chris Hardie, in August of 2017.
Principles of Collaboration
EQUITY – We support economic opportunity and high quality of life for people of all backgrounds and skill levels.
COLLABORATION – Our economies and assets transcend physical borders and boundaries. Our ability to compete globally is dependent upon our ability to collaborate locally as a region.
COOPERATION – We advocate for cooperative intergovernmental strategies that maintain regional business development initiatives and improve the overall efficiency of municipal services throughout the region.
STEWARDSHIP – Our preservation of physical assets, infrastructure and natural resources is critical as they are inextricably linked to quality of life. Economic prosperity means a high quality of life and quality of life fosters economic prosperity.
CELEBRATION – We identify, celebrate and market the unique assets of all counties and communities within the region. We recognize that the promotion of our region is a competitive advantage for attracting business and new resources into the region.