Chippewa Valley Future Region

What is the Future of Our Creative Economy?



You remember the scene in Alice in Wonderland, where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which way she ought to go? The Cheshire Cat says, “That depends where you want to get to.” Alice admits she doesn’t know, and the Cheshire Cat says, “Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Here in the Chippewa Valley, we know where we want to go: we want to develop and nurture a robust and vibrant Creative Economy for current and future generations. We have a lot of strength to build on, and the Chippewa Valley Future Region initiative will help us explore and envision the future we want.



The Future Region project is focused on the future of our creative economy and has several goals. Some of them are about having a rich and inclusive process, and others are about milestones and outcomes:

  • We will engage diverse mix of people from across our community. We will reach beyond the “usual suspects” and bring in youngsters and oldsters, Republicans and Democrats, entrepreneurs and bureaucrats, creatives and technicians. This process is open to everyone who wants to help build and sustain a vibrant creative economy.

  • We will use a blend of in-person events (like those in November, December and January) and online participation through Wisconsin-based Polco. Create a Polco account today, to stay in the loop on the pubic discussions.

  • We will use the tools of strategic foresight (see “PROCESS” below) to have a clear-eyed and creative discussion about our Creative Economy’s future.

  • We will develop a long range vision of our preferred future, and we will expect our community to work together, across disciplines and across jurisdictions to bring that vision to life

  • We will enjoy the process. We will eat together, disagree together, find common ground, and create together. Above all, we will remember that we are in service to our future generations, those who will inherit today’s decisions.


“This is a place where people with ideas and financial resources and academia are all coming together to... do things differently.”

Sarah Godlewski|  Eau Claire Resident


What does "Creative Economy" mean? 

The term "Creative Economy" refers to all economic activity that depends on a person’s individual creativity for its economic value whether the result has a cultural element or not. In this usage, the creative economy occurs wherever individual creativity is the main source of value and the main cause of a transaction.

The Process

We will use the “Strategic Foresight” process to achieve these goals. Strategic foresight is a professional process used by trained futurists that help clients debate, discuss, and design their futures.


The Chippewa Valley’s creative economy has been building for years. Stoked by the likes of Bon Iver, an incredible line-up of musical festivals (Eaux Claires, Blue Ox, Country Jam USA, Country Fest, and Rock Fest), Volume One, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, UW-Eau Claire, Artisan Forge Studios, the Brewing Projekt, along with developing projects like Altoona’s River Prairie Park and the Confluence Arts Center, the region has a unique opportunity to nurture this grassroots movement- to diversify and strengthen its creative economy and parlay it into becoming an even more desirable community.


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