Next to Wal-Mart on the edge of rural Viroqua, Wisconsin, a 100,000-square-foot abandoned industrial building is now bustling with new businesses and jobs from an unconventional source: The local food and farming sector.
It’s a turnaround for a small town that lost one of its largest employers and then bet on the growth of local food markets to enliven that vacant space and the area’s economy.
The Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua is also one of an increasing number of food and farm business development centers that are ratcheting up the economic development assistance.
For Viroqua and southwest Wisconsin, the growing businesses at the Food Enterprise Center are a significant boost both for that abandoned industrial real estate and the regional economy, said Matt Johnson. He is editor of the Vernon County Broadcaster and a charter member of the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA).
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