• Students at Black Cat Coffeehouse

Utilizing a variety of data gathered from governmental and print sources as well as information collected through original research by the Center for Rural Communities, this program supports a public database of assets and amenities across one hundred twenty-six rural communities in the north woods of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Assets, or resources with value specific to a place that have the potential to provide future benefit, and amenities, value-added resources that increase the desirability of that place, act as important indicators that measure rural community quality of life.

Our database includes a variety of asset and amenity indicators related to:

  1. community demographics
  2. community economic and business characteristics
  3. natural environment
  4. outdoor and indoor recreational infrastructure
  5. downtown vitality
  6. education
  7. healthcare
  8. arts and culture
  9. social capital
  10. food security
  11. transportation infrastructure
  12. energy
  13. technology and communication

The purpose of the north woods Assets & Amenities project is to promote two promising rural development strategies (i.e., capitalizing on community assets and enhancing rural amenities) by providing valuable, up-to-date information to community leaders that helps inform decisions and promotes viable and sustainable policies.

Over the last year (2015), we completed our first community comparison report for Ashland, Wisconsin. The Assets and Amenities Comparison Report identifies Ashland’s unique assets and amenities, as well as many opportunities for amenity development moving forward. Counter to the narrative of decline and loss that has dominated the discourse about rural communities in the last forty years, we find that Ashland has a viable economic future and great potential for development and vibrancy.

Building on the findings in the report, the CRC also worked with the City of Ashland to host the SOARs Forum: Strategies to Optimize Ashland’s Resources with the goals of disseminating information on Ashland’s unique strengths and promoting community discussion among policy makers, local organizations, and citizens invested in the community.

If you are interested in learning more about our database or commissioning data collection, a comparison report, and/or a related event for your community, contact us.