Building Community

Our Community. Our Direction. Our Legacy.

One of the best parts of living in Washington County is the wonderful people who live here and our strong sense of community. During the first 150+ years of our existence that can partly be attributed to a number of large families scattered across the county who have served as leaders in varying capacities for nearly ten generations, as well as strong religious institutions and civic organizations. As the county grows we need to foster that family and community environment that makes this home. To help make this possible we need to create a social capital initiative that promotes “connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.” – Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam

One of the primary reasons that people live in and move to Washington County is the high quality education institutions. Every year these wonderful institutions produce some of the best and brightest students that the State of Wisconsin has to offer. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer of those students stay in or return to Washington County to live, work and raise a family. Simultaneously, businesses throughout Washington County are experiencing major challenges in maintaining an adequate workforce talent pipeline. In the coming years the county should take a leadership role in fostering the connection to Inspire to connect kids to careers and employers, and then work to identify and overcome hurdles to keeping and bringing our kids home to live, work and raise their families.

One major obstacle to keeping our kids in Washington County and growing that sense of community is a complete lack of housing options for young people and starting families. Despite the prognostications of many, there is a complete void in the market for single family 750 -1,500 sq ft homes at an achievable price point. Filling this market void in our suburban/exurban communities, combined with the compounding negatives of urban living (i.e. COVID spread, Defund the Police efforts, etc.), will drive our kids back home and will bring their friends with them.

Finally, a major obstacle to financial security and therefore community prosperity is the unceasing burden of debt on young people, including vehicles, student loans, credit cards and mortgages. While this is certainly not a problem for county government to solve, resolution to the staggering problem will undoubtedly create a more prosperous county and thriving communities.

As part of this initiative leaders in government, nonprofit, religious and business sectors should work together to create solutions to attract our kids back home and make us all more prosperous