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Southwest Partners featured at Mayors Conference
8-27 Breininger
Mike Breininger

With a focus on how to turn around the “brain drain” from Wisconsin communities and improve the “brain gain,” 85 mayors, city administrators and village executives from across Wisconsin gathered in Elkhart Lake on Thursday, Aug. 20.  

Southwest Partners, a community building group from the greater Richland County area that created the Career Education Cooperative and is now focusing on the Pine River Trails and Silent Sports development, was asked by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities to present to the Chief Executives about how to develop strategies for attracting and retaining people in Wisconsin communities.  

SW Partners Executive Team member Mike Breininger spoke about building a community perspective towards a positive view of itself by developing relationships with people who help discover their passions and natural assets. He also spoke about how much communities can do when they work together that they cannot do when they work individually or as small special interest groups that are single issue oriented.  

Breininger noted that SW Partners is relatively young and still experimenting with how to build a strong community, but “check us out in five or ten years” to see the positive results. Already many high school students, school partners, and business partners are talking with each other in ways that did not exist in the past. Young people are finding new career pathways and businesses are looking forward to being able to fill their job vacancies with local people who want to stay where they are because it is a great place to live. With the development of silent sports there will be a special attraction for sports loving people and young professionals.

The efforts of SW Partners are also being examined by the Wisconsin Statewide Association Leaders as a possible model for community building efforts in communities across Wisconsin. Initiatives have begun in the Fox Cities area, Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, and Oshkosh. These cities have called upon SW Partners for consultation and implementation of developing a “relational culture” strategy that will create an environment for citizen led community building efforts.  The Kickapoo Valley is the second protégé of the SW Partners model. Each of these regional efforts are in their early stages, but have already built momentum through relationship building and will soon be ready to launch actions in their own areas.

Many of the mayors and chief executives at the conference requested that SW Partners consult with them in bringing similar cultural shifts to their own communities or regions.

SW Partners is a grassroots people driven effort that seeks to create a healthy forward thinking culture for attracting, retaining, and nurturing people and their dreams in the greater Richland Country region. The Partners include six school districts, eight of the area’s largest employers as well as many smaller businesses, Southwest Technical College, UW-Richland, CESA 3, Friends of the Pine, many area churches, and hundreds of people of passion. SW Partners has vision for community building in many ways in the near future.  The Partners know they can change the area in a positive way if we work together.


If you are interested in joining the SW Partners passion to turn our area into a place of choice to live and prosper, contact Mike Breininger, <>, Dale Bender <>, Becky Dahl <>, Kevin Hauser <>, Mick Cosgrove <>, or Larry Engel <>.