Business Simplified

Get a glimpse of what it's like to do business in such an exceptional place

Helping entrepreneurs and small business owners in Ashland County, Wisconsin.


Ashland Area Development Corporation (AADC) is the primary economic development agent in Ashland County, Wisconsin - your one-stop access point to a wealth of business and community resources.  We work directly with businesses, startup or existing, helping them find the information or resources they seek.  
AADC works in close partnership with local municipalities, including Ashland County and the City of Ashland, other partners and stakeholders in a coordinated effort "to create, maintain and promote economic vitality that improves the quality of life of the people in the Ashland region."  Organized in 1957, we have a well established history of supporting and encouraging business growth throughout the region.  
Our expertise is available to businesses at no charge.  AADC is a non-stock, not-for-profit Wisconsin corporation that holds Section 501(c)(3) status from the IRS.  


Why be a business owner in Ashland County?

Ashland County offers businesses so much more than a wealth of human capital.  There's an abundance of natural resources to enjoy, including Lake Superior and 180,000 acres of Chequamegon National Forest.  You can breath clean air, drink clear, pure water and see the stars in the sky. There are very few places as pristine and unspoiled or citizens who are as appreciative and passionate about their surroundings as you'll find here..

You'll find a positive business environment, skilled and productive labor force, and a well diversified economy, along with a world class quality of life.  Ashland is an attractive regional center for people to live, work and play.  Why not choose to live and work in this place of extraordinary natural beauty where you can feel like you're on vacation every day simply by walking outside!

Are you interested in opening a business in a beautiful and vibrant setting?  Do you want to expand, relocate or build a facility?  Do you need assistance with your business plan, site location or securing financing?  We can help!   


10 Things You Should Know About the Ashland Area

1. Big City advantages with a Small Town feel.  The Ashland area offers world-class, four-season attractions and assets without the congestion and hassle of a major metropolitan area.  The average commute is just 20 minutes.  And people are Midwest-friendly.

2. Housing is affordable.  And so is most everything else.  The cost of living is 11 percent below the national average.  Home to communities big and small, you can enjoy your choice of living style, whether it's a tree-lined historic block, scenic lakefront view, or rural homestead.

3. Education's making the right kind of headlines.  We are home to public and private options for K-12 and higher education.  For reinventing the high school experience, Ashland tops Wisconsin.  The focus on academics and career readiness is improving attendance and graduation rates.  We have two top notch colleges, Northland College and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College,which offer higher education and cultural events.  Northland is a private liberal arts college with a focus on the environment and sustainability.  WITC offers career-focused associate degree programs, technical diplomas, short-term certificates, customized training, and a wide array of courses for personal or career enrichment.  A study by Washington Monthly ranks WITC fourth among two-year colleges nationwide.  

4.  Big business, with a capital B.  The Ashland area exports more than $1 billion in goods and our imports grew to $994 million in 2015. The local economy is quite diverse.  Major business sectors include healthcare, education, government, manufacturing, tourism, forestry, trade, transportation, agriculture and utilities.  The unemployment rate in Ashland County dropped 3.7 percentage points in five years (2010-2015); more than 200 jobs were created or retained over the same time period.  We're seeing steady economic growth and millions are being invested in our community.  Now that's something to shout about!

5.  Healthcare is truly top-notch.  The healthcare industry remains vibrant and is one of our largest employers.  In 2016 we celebrated a major elevation in our already top-notch care with the opening of the Northwest Wisconsin Cancer Center.  NWCC is the result of a collaboration between two of our healthcare organizations, Memorial Medical Center and Essentia Health, working together to provide expanded services and higher quality care for area citizens.

6. Residents are on the move.  Ashland is an active and effervescent community that is home to a triathlon, duathalon, and several 5K races.  Runner's World ranked our Whistlestop Marathon and Half-Marathon #20 in the nation.  It's a wonderful community supported event that many area residents train or volunteer for.  Whether you're a lifelong native, transplant, or visitor, there is a feeling of momentum and vibrancy rolling through the Ashland region. 

7.  It's never been easier - or more scenic - to get around.  The City of Ashland has 11.5 gorgeous miles of paved walking/biking trails that run alongside majestic Lake Superior, as well as along the 5th Street Corridor.  The trail connects with the Tri-County Corridor in case you are feeling ambitious and want to bike, run, or walk the 65 miles to Superior, WI.   Citizens and visitors enjoy an abundance of picturesque trails in our region; within Ashland County alone there are 200 miles of hiking trails, 200 miles of motorized trails, more than 300 miles of snowmobile trails, plus there are 50 miles of cross-country ski trails.  

8.  An abundance of peaceful places to relax and unwind.  Awe-inspiring nature is everywhere you look - Lake Superior plus hundreds of interior lakes, acres upon acres of forest lands, numerous waterfalls - scenic vistas are all around.  Summer is amazing with world-class fishing, hiking, biking, and boating opportunities.  And it's a great place to CHILL.  Discover the winter charm of Wisconsin's northwoods.  We are an ice-fishing, ice-racing (oh, just you wait!), snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing paradise.  When the Northern Lights are visible it's a breath-taking, jaw-dropping spectacular sight!  Plus you can enjoy a never ending stream of festivals, concerts, fairs, and races of all kinds year-round.  You don't need to leave town to have fun, but if you want to plan a day trip, our close proximity to Duluth, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan offers a couple of easy options.  You can fly to national and international destinations from Duluth, Minnesota or Ironwood Michigan where parking is free!  

9.  We are larger than life.  Ashland ranks #3 on Travel Wisconsin's Man Made Wonders of Northern Wisconsin.  Located within an eight-block business district in historic downtown are 15 beautiful giant murals depicting the city's historic founders, lumberjacks, military veterans, railroad workers, storefronts and everyday life.  You can see the murals on your own or take a guided Mural Trolley Tour.  If you're the creative type, you can't help but be inspired by the bounteous beauty of nature and rich history which surrounds us.  Ashland's historic Oredock base extends nearly 2000' into Lake Superior and is at the center of redevelopment along Ashland's waterfront. The public space is envisioned to be the crown jewel of Ashland's waterfront recreational areas.  

10. It all adds up.  When you subtract what we don't have - long commutes in heavy traffic and stress levels that are off the charts, and add what we do have - beautiful vistas, clear skies, clean air and water, you'll decide it's a great time to come to Ashland.  We're hip for a day trip . . . or more.  A plethora of publications are telling people from Madison and Minneapolis to eat, drink and play here.  We already know we have cool places to visit; now our urban friends know it too.  

Chequamegon Bay by former Mayor Monroe.jpg

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