Lafayette County WI

Lafayette County WI
Lafayette County
Economic Development
Bob Jones
Executive Director
Lafayette Development Corporation
108 N Main St
Cuba City, WI 53807
815-281-2866 cell
cubacitycdc@gmail.com
 
Lafayette County WI Business
Assistance Contacts

Economic development has seen significant changes in Lafayette County through the years. Established by Irish immigrants and lead miners in the early 1800s, the lead mining industry continued in importance through World War II and into the 1970s. Today, manufacturing and agriculture lead the county’s economic profile. Tourism also contributes significantly to the county’s economy.

Darlington is the county seat and largest city. Other leading communities include Shullsburg, Belmont, Argyle, Benton, Blanchardville, Gratiot and South Wayne. Formed in 1847, Lafayette County has a total area of 643 square miles and a population of just over 16,000. Here is more information on demographics and location.

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Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the leading industry providing employment in Lafayette County with metal workers, plastic workers, and other production workers accounting for the largest percentage of manufacturing occupations.

Economic development and financial incentives are available for new businesses and companies looking to expand or relocate to Lafayette County. Darlington has a modern industrial park with a complete infrastructure and a large number of support services.

The Lafayette County area is well-suited for agricultural and food-related industries. The Shullsburg Creamery, Roelli Cheese Company and several other specialty cheese and dairy production plants are located within this highly productive agricultural county.

Other larger manufacturing businesses in the county include Crist Fencing and Concrete Reality, a division of Checker Tile Ltd.

Agriculture

Agriculture accounts for about 85% of the total business sales and provides about 54% of the jobs in Lafayette County. Dairy is the key agricultural industry with 13 dairy and specialty cheese production plants in the county.

Agricultural diversity is important in Lafayette County.

  • Second in the state in sheep and goat production
  • Fourth in the state in swine production
  • Fourth in cattle and calves production
  • First in the number of bee colonies
  • Second in number of goats
  • Third in alfalfa hay production
  • Fourth in corn for grain

Direct marketing sales contribute significantly to the county agricultural sales. Farmers own and manage 85% of the land within the county, incorporating conservation methods into their farming practices to protect the natural environment.

*Source: Lafayette County Agriculture: Value & Economic Impact

Tourism

Visitors to Lafayette County enjoy a variety of activities and special events throughout the year. Museums, historic sites, parks, nature centers, rivers, lakes, and small town charm are all good reasons to plan a trip and stay awhile.

Several of the early 1800s mining camps have been reconstructed and are open to the public, including Badger Mine and Museum at Shullsburg and Swindler’s Ridge Museum in Benton. Other area museums and historical sites focus on agriculture and daily living aspects from the 1800s to present day.

The first state capitol building of Wisconsin is located near Belmont. In 1836 territorial Governor Dodge named Belmont the capital hoping to bring notoriety and financial gain to the area. The capitol building and government complex was used for about 40 days during the 1836 session before Madison was designated as the state capital.

The county courthouse, located in Darlington, features a Tiffany glass rotunda, marble walls, tile floors and a fountain. The courthouse was completed in 1907 and is the only courthouse still in use in the United States that was donated solely by one man. History and architecture enthusiasts will also enjoy seeing the many buildings in the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While you are driving around the county, look for the wonderful display of barn quilts and the early stone country churches. Visit the community antique shops and be sure to see the unique chainsaw carvings mounted around the city of Darlington.

Bloody Lake Black Powder Shoot and Rendezvous at Woodford is a living history encampment weekend held in May.  Participants re-create the early 1800s lifestyle with period costumes, food, shelter, and frontier games such as tomahawk and knife throwing, shooting and other competitions.

Outdoor recreation is highlighted by

  • Cheese Country Trail is 47 mile route from Monroe to Mineral Point. Motorized and non-motorized trails open year-round.
  • Pecatonica State Trail is 10 miles long, motorized and non-motorized trails
  • Pecatonica River has great fishing
  • Yellowstone Lake State Park at Blanchardville offers 2600 acres of camping, hiking, water sports, fishing, skating, and snowmobile trails.
  • Other man-made lakes are being developed for fishing, boating and swimming
  • Lafayette County Speedway has dirt track racing Friday nights through the summer

Darlington hosts numerous festivals during the year including the Cinco de Mayo festival in May, the Darlington Canoe Festival in June, Pecatonica Valley Antique Days in September, and the Christmas Parade and Festival in December. For more information on any of these events, contact the Darlington Chamber office.

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