When one thinks of places to locate a business, a bustling city is often the image that comes to mind. With all of the resources available in a larger city, why should someone choose instead to locate a business in a small town like Whitewater, Wisconsin?
A Micropolitan Area
Bizjournals studies show that a large number of Americans prefer to live in what are referred to as “micropolitan” areas – small towns and cities on the fringe of large cities.
Whitewater fits that description to a tee:
According to the 2018 census, Whitewater has a population of only about 15,000.
Whitewater is conveniently located just 50 miles from Madison and Milwaukee and 80 miles from Chicago.
Whitewater is also nearby several other population centers such as Janesville, Racine, Kenosha, and Rockford, Illinois.
Highway 12 and State Highways 59 and 89 connect Whitewater to Interstates 43, 90, and 94, making it an ideal location for commuters.
The small college town comes with several other business incentives that you simply can’t find in a large city, such as the following:
Below-average costs of labor and utilities
One of the lowest tax rates of Wisconsin cities
A Community Development Authority that is eager to help incoming businesses to thrive and is able to provide Economic Development Loans to prospective businesses.
The University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
Not only is Whitewater a micropolitan area, but also the home to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. UW-Whitewater currently enrolls more than 12,000 students in 47 undergraduate majors and 13 graduate programs (Learn more). There is a consistent supply of an educated workforce as well as students eager for internship experiences.
The College of Business of Economics is Wisconsin’s largest AACSB-accredited business school and their Entrepreneurship major has been ranked as a top Entrepreneurship Program in the nation by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship® (USASBE). Student entrepreneurs benefit from a combination of practical courses, programs, and events (For more on student entrepreneurs).
Moreover, UW-Whitewater is recognized for its diversity and inclusion initiatives. The entire campus is wheelchair accessible and embraces more than 200 international students from more than 40 countries.
Whitewater Business Park & Technology Park
The Whitewater University Technology Park is a 130-acre park that includes 35 acres of certified shovel-ready land. There are 12 building sites ready for construction with all utilities included and state-of-the-art technology infrastructure in place.
The mission statement of the Whitewater University Technology Park is “to create and foster durable businesses and jobs through a close alignment of UW-Whitewater’s research and educational competencies and the resources of the City of Whitewater. The Technology Park serves as a foundation for a diversified and robust regional economy through the attraction of new residents, utilization of UW-Whitewater faculty, staff and student expertise and the retention of alumni talent.”
As the cornerstone of the Whitewater University Technology Park, the Whitewater University Innovation Center serves the University and community through business incubation services. The Innovation Center is a mixed-use business incubator that offers office and laboratory space, training and meeting space, and all the infrastructure an entrepreneur needs to succeed. The LEED Gold Certified sustainable facility provides high-speed fiber optic internet, VOIP phone service, and 24/7 electronic access. Through the University Incubation Program, the Whitewater University Innovation Center offers entrepreneurial education and mentorship, programming and events.
Adjacent to the Technology Park is the Whitewater Business Park. There are over 20 businesses in the park, employing more than 2,300 people. Among the residents of the park are Generac Power Systems, Inc., Husco International, and Golden State Foods. The Whitewater Business park is operated by Whitewater’s Community Development Authority, which provides assistance such as site selection, securing necessary public infrastructure, planning, and getting access to loans for new and incoming businesses.
A Great Place to Live
When choosing a location for a business, it is critical to consider that many of its employees will want to live in the city or town where the business will be in order to make the commute easier. Whitewater is not just a great place to start a business – it’s a great place to live! The city is located in the rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine, and is on the edge of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The area is filled with scenic trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, and jogging (not to mention cross country skiing in the winter). There are also many lakes of varying size in the area that provide ample opportunity for fishing, boating, and swimming.
What else is so great about living in Whitewater? It is one of the safest cities in the state! The Whitewater Police Department is one of only 21 state-accredited law enforcement agencies.
Historic Downtown Whitewater is a growing retail environment filled with unique locally owned small businesses, which creates a one-of-a-kind experience for diners and shoppers. For those who prefer to do their shopping in malls and shopping centers, Janesville is a mere 20 minutes away.
Together, the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, the Community Development Authority, Whitewater University Technology Park, and the Whitewater community have fostered an entrepreneurial spirt that resonates throughout the community.
As a micropolitan area, the Whitewater community is extremely supportive of entrepreneurs and eager to support emerging businesses. As John Hyatt with IIB Consulting, a tenant of the Whitewater University Innovation Center explains, “When IIB Consulting first came to Whitewater, they felt as if they were welcomed into a family. There is something special about Midwestern hospitality! The entrepreneurial spirit of the community and the willingness to help differentiated Whitewater from other locations. It was clear there was untapped potential in this market.”
To learn more about the community:
Visit the Whitewater Chamber for information on local businesses and exploring the community.
Visit Discover Whitewater for information on tourism and a directory of services, restaurants, shops, places to stay, and things to do.
Visit Choose Whitewater for more on living, learning, working, and playing in Whitewater.