A University of Wisconsin and Extension study says the economic impact of second homes in Wisconsin is large and is often forgotten as an economic driver. While the study had a component in southern Wisconsin, it also had key results from the Northwoods.
Professor Russ Kashian at UW-Whitewater and Professor Andy Lewis from UW-Extension looked at the impacts of connecting second homes with high speed internet. The lack of such connectivity has been cited as a potential loss of revenue in some parts of the Northwoods.
The study found second home residents with high speed internet access spent more time at those residences. In addition to construction work, residents spent money on food, gas, entertainment and medical care and many other goods and services.
While half of the respondents said they wouldn't spend more time at their second homes, the rest said they would, some as much as one to two months if better connected...
"....we know that people who stay in a lake home spend money on a daily basis, and we have a lot of them..."
Professor Kashian says Wisconsin residents should look to use our natural resources to our economic advantage by trying to find ways to get people to stay here longer...
"....we have natural resources in the state of Wisconsin that other states don't have that we can use to promote the economy of the state. Sometimes we underplay those resources...."
Three Lakes was used as an example, with downtown businesses that might not be there without the extra spending from second home residents. Grown North Regional Economic Development Corporation Director Don Sidlowski says the spending is not a one-time thing. Sidlowski's recommendation led to the study...
"....I would like to remind everybody that this impact we're talking about is annual. This is not a one-time impact this is every year that these people come back and access these services...."
The study found more broadband would create 1,750 jobs with more than $91 million dollars a year in economic activity in Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas counties.