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Start-up and Small Business Resources

Do you have an idea for a product or new business? Looking to kickstart or diversify your existing business? DDI and our affiliates can help!  Our goal is to provide hands-on assistance for new and small businesses to quickly solve your problems. We know every business is unique, so we’ll work with you to identify the specific resources you need to be most successful. Then we’ll help you get connected so you can get back to business.

The Crawford County Small Business Resource Guide below is a list of agencies that provide financial, business planning assistance, and  information to direct you to local, state and federal level programs or download our quick guides below.

  • Crawford County Business Start-Up Regulations & Information Guide outlines everything you need to know about starting a business in the county – registrations, permits, and business forms.
  • Crawford County Quick Business Resource Guide includes contacts for local business resources.

People start businesses in Crawford County for many reasons: to have more control of their income, exercise creative freedom, profit from their work, or simply gain the satisfaction of becoming successful through their own hard work.  The resources below can  help you ask the right questions, evaluate your idea along the way, and guide your business to success.

Think you’re ready to be an entrepreneur or start a small business? While starting a business might not be difficult, keeping a business in business can be a challenge. Entrepreneurship takes some basic skills that can be learned and requires a few personality traits. Take the time to analyze your personality, skills, and lifestyle to see if entrepreneurship is a good fit for you. Check out this Small Business Readiness Assessment from the SBA or find out your Entrepreneurial I.Q.  

A great new free short online class is available from the UW-Madison SBDC office.  It consists of 4 sections (Entrepreneurial Mindset, Business Idea, Financial Readiness, Next Steps).  The course will take between 60-90 minutes to complete and it can be stopped and started at any time, so it fits schedules easily.  When people take the class from our region, the Madison office sends us a follow-up email so that we can reach out to them to offer consulting.  Here is the link to the free class:

These tests are also available from our neighbors in Green County, Wisconsin. Take the Entrepreneur Quiz  and  Do You Have What It Takes?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers multiple resources, partners and programs to support the needs of the small business. or by phone 1-800-U-ASK-SBA These include free online courses through the SBA learning center on topics ranging from “An Introduction to Accounting” to “How to Win Government Contracts” as well as many online resources to help you think through a business idea including Ten steps to start your business. 

Whether you have a high school diploma, a college degree or a Ph.D., you will need some practical advice to start a business. Here are a few programs and services in the Crawford County region designed to get started:

Small Business Development Centers – Business Counselors from the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC), part of University of Wisconsin Extension, provide free counseling services and classes for new business owners. To schedule an appointment with a counselor or find out more about classes offered through the Southwest Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Coulee Community Action Program (Couleecap) Job and Business Development Program also offers business counseling, financing, and technical assistance for businesses in Crawford County. Visit the Couleecap website or contact or Aaron Reimler, 608-782-5525.

Western Wisconsin Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) counselors are active and/or retired business executives who are highly qualified to assist new or expanding businesses. Visit to find out how they can help.  

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) – The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation is an economic development corporation providing quality business education and access to capital for entrepreneurs. WWBIC consults, educates and mentors owners of small and micro businesses throughout Wisconsin. (414)263-5450 or (608)257- 5450


If you choose to start a business you should prepare a clear plan that takes your idea from concept to reality. A business plan lays out how you are going to run your business and is a management tool to help guide the future of your company. This is a required document for most business financing.  Go here to find ideal business plans.

Entrepreneur Magazine – 9 Top Business Plan Resources

You may also purchase software programs to assist in writing a plan. Most business counselors can help you develop your business plan. There are a host of other business resources available online including online business planning tools, apps,and mentorship opportunities.  Here are a few recommended by Entrepreneur Magazine.

SizeUp – Online Data Tool

A powerful online tool to help enable business owners and start-ups make more intelligent decisions is called SizeUp.  SizeUp provides three core features that:

Get Your Scorecard

Determine what percent of businesses you are outperforming in your industry. See if your score places you in the top or bottom for revenue, size, salaries, and more.

Map the Best Performing Areas Around You

See where the typical business owner in your industry near you is doing best. This may help you determine where to expand into a new location, or where to target a marketing campaign.

Get Recommendations

See how to look at the information and how to make better decisions based on data. Consider SizeUp your business intelligence go-to source.

Benchmark Your Business

See how your business sizes up by comparing your performance to all other competitors in your industry. Isolate areas where you can improve and find ways you can save money.

Map Your Competition

Map where your competitors, customers, and suppliers are located. Determine how you can best serve existing customers, find new customers, and pick suppliers. Use the map to isolate areas with many potential customers but little competition.

Find the Best Places to Advertise

Identify the best areas to target your next advertising campaign. Choose from pre-set reports to find areas with the highest industry revenue, most underserved markets, and where average business revenue is highest, or create your own custom demographic and/or business report.

To explore to power of SizeUp, go here.

The Kickapoo Culinary Center in Gays Mills, Wisconsin is an incubator for start-up food businesses. Entrants must:  intend to process a food product that is approved under applicable state license, obtain a $1 million in product liability insurance that names the KCC on the certificate of insurance, agree to complete a business plan within six months of start date, agree to participate in a minimum of 15 hours per year of business development and industry-specific training, complete an application for admission and all other tenant forms, complete a three- to five-page business synopsis, complete kitchen sanitation, safety and equipment training, obtain the appropriate State of Wisconsin or federal license, complete all required classes as determined by the Food Code, and agree to participate in quarterly reviews for documentation of business progress and production. Gays Mills village residents who stipulate, in writing, that the food they process is not intended
for commercial resale will be exempted from certain of the above qualifications.

Sharing Spaces Kitchen in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsinis a shared-use incubator kitchen facility located in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The kitchen is home to a bakery retail  store, a processing and packing operation that strengthens the local food economy and a wholesaler to local businesses. Sharing spaces offers processing and packaging for resale to the public or for personal use.

The Platteville Business Incubator located in nearby Platteville, Wisconsin supports a wide range of companies including manufacturing, technology, culinary and professional services and offer office, manufacturing, distribution and warehouse spaces as well as a number of additional features including onsite daycare and group insurance. Easy access to U.S. Highway 151 support quick access for product shipment and client meetings.

Inventors and Entrepreneurs Clubs –   These clubs are located all over the state of Wisconsin and provide free opportunities for new and existing business owners to network, learn, and share resources at no cost. Clubs typically meet monthly and have a featured speaker address a relevant topic for new businesses or inventors. The Viroqua Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club serves Crawford County. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at the Food Enterprise Center, 1201 North Main Street in Viroqua. Networking starts at 5:30 p.m., the program begins at 6:00 p.m. The meetings are free and no reservations are required.  Everyone is welcome!

“The region is a leader in inventor and entrepreneur clubs and a national resource for how to start them. The inventors and entrepreneurs of our region have pioneered uncharted business waters to explore new opportunities and serve unmet needs in our communities and beyond. The contributions of this industry cluster to our local, regional and national economies are invaluable, but many times go unmeasured. The unconventional thinking and independent spirit of our partners in this group are shared bonds that serve to foster continued growth and collaboration opportunities.”

The Gig is an affordable co-working space for entrepreneurs of any income. Desks and offices available for rent. 119 N. 19th Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin  (608) 797-5746 Find out more at

The Wisconsin Manufacturers Extension Partnership is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s national Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a national network of 59 centers that provide assistance to small and midsize manufacturers. WMEP is a specialized, not-for-profit organization providing targeted consulting services to small and medium manufacturers in Wisconsin. Read more about resources through WMEP at

The Wisconsin Supply Chain Marketplace directory provides companies with a convenient avenue to find Wisconsin suppliers in a simple to use system that delivers results and supplier solutions. The Marketplace also offers suppliers a dynamic platform to get their information out to a broader customer base. Suppliers in the Marketplace get access to RFPs, RFQs, and CFIs with an opportunity to respond to the requests and access new markets. Participation in the Supply Chain Marketplace is FREE.

Crawford County residents are served by several institutions of higher education that provide training for new business owners, residents, and employees. Southwest Technical College in Fennimore and Western Technical College in La Crosse and Viroqua offer programs less than an hour from most locations in the county and include online training options.   These schools offer in-demand training for the region’s industries including Business Administration and Management, Entrepreneurship, Health Sciences and Direct Patient Care, Precision Manufacturing, Human Services, Hospitality & Tourism and much more.  Upper Iowa University also offers some classes in Prairie du Chien with additional courses at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore and Western Wisconsin Technical College in La Crosse.

The Food Financing Institute works to make sophisticated financial technical assistance available for every growing food, beverage and value-added agriculture enterprise.
Food Finance Institute Client Successes.  Directed by Tera Johnson, the Food Finance Institute (FFI) leverages and supports a collaborative network of professionals focused on building and funding profitable businesses in the food, beverage and value-added agriculture sector. The FFI is a Business & Entrepreneurship program of the University of Wisconsin System Administration. By  supporting collaborative network and partners with training, resources, tools and mentorship, FFI fulfills its mission of making sophisticated financial technical assistance available to every growing food, beverage and value-added agriculture enterprise. Read more about resources through the Food Financing Institute.

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