Community Assistance


Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy


The purpose of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is to bring together the public and private sectors to develop a strategic plan to diversify and strengthen the Region’s economy. The CEDS is intended to:

  • Provide a basis for a more widespread understanding of the ongoing economic development work program in the Region, which draws heavily from the work of the M7 organization.
  • Meet the requirements of the EDA for such work, thereby strengthening efforts to secure Federal funding for projects in the seven-county Region that have a focus and impact on advancing economic development that will benefit economically distressed areas. 

The Adopted 2021-2025 CEDS

Regions must prepare a new CEDS at least every five years for communities and organizations within the Region to qualify for certain U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) funding. During 2020 and 2021, M7 and SEWRPC prepared the 2021-2025 CEDS for Southeastern Wisconsin, with input from M7’s Regional Economic Partnership (REP) working group and other stakeholders. The Commission adopted the new CEDS in September 2021 and EDA approved the CEDS in April 2022. The final report and summary materials can be accessed below.

Opportunities to Provide Input

In fall 2020, the CEDS partnership obtained initial input for the 2021-2025 CEDS through a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) exercise that helped to inform the strategic direction of the new CEDS. Input was obtained in two ways:

  • Virtual Stakeholder Meeting #1: On Monday, October 26, M7 and SEWRPC held a virtual stakeholder meeting discussing the current state of the regional economy, as well as the historical trends and future projections that will inform the goals, objectives, and strategies in the new CEDS. As part of this virtual meeting, attendees were also given the opportunity to participate in the SWOT exercise. Access the presentation given at the meeting here.  
  • Online SWOT Survey: For those unable to attend the meeting, an online SWOT survey was available through Monday, November 2.

The CEDS partnership obtained input on the draft 2021-2025 CEDS (Summary, Full Report) in March 2021. 

  • Virtual Stakeholder Meeting #2: On Tuesday, March 16, M7 and SEWRPC held a virtual stakeholder meeting discussing the draft CEDS, focusing on the goals and strategies identified for the CEDS. As part of this virtual meeting, attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the goal and strategies. You can access the presentation given at the meeting here. You can view a recording of the presentation here.

Public Comments: Public comments were accepted through March 31, 2021 via email, mail, phone, and through this website. M7 and SEWRPC considered all feedback and made changes to address that feedback as we prepared the final CEDS. These changes were reviewed with M7’s REP working group prior to finalizing the changes and presenting the CEDS to each county for adoption.  


Potential to Become an EDD

Having an adopted CEDS makes the Region eligible to apply to EDA to become an Economic Development District (EDD). Following adoption of the previous 2015-2020 CEDS in late 2015, SEWRPC submitted a request to the EDA for designation of the Region as an EDD, which would have made the Region eligible for support from EDA through its Partnership Planning program to help implement the CEDS. In March 2017, SEWRPC was informed by EDA that the level of economic distress in the Region is not significant enough to warrant designation as an EDD. However, counties and communities that include an economically distressed census tract can apply for EDA Public Works and Economic Adjustment grants, based on the adopted CEDS, if those grants will benefit residents of economically distressed areas. Now that the 2021-2025 CEDS has been completed and approved by EDA, M7 and SEWRPC are again exploring whether it is possible for EDA to designate the Region as an EDD.

Benefits of Preparing and Adopting a CEDS

The CEDS planning process brings together diverse interests, including both public and business interests, to develop a strategic plan for strengthening the regional economy and a plan of action to carry out the strategies. In addition, the CEDS:

  • Provides a regional perspective for identifying and capitalizing on economic advantages, including strategies to reduce unemployment and increase incomes in the Region.
  • Provides a more widespread understanding of the Region’s economic development work program, including an opportunity for public review and input.
  • Provides a forum for identifying and prioritizing investment projects.

Adoption of the CEDS by a county board makes county and local governments in the county with economically distressed areas eligible to apply for grants under EDA Public Works and Economic Adjustment programs, provided the grant project would benefit the distressed area. These programs provide funding for infrastructure projects and revolving loan funds and other business assistance programs, respectively. In addition, other Federal agencies look favorably on joint/regional planning efforts when reviewing proposed projects and grant requests.


For More Information

Questions about the CEDS may be directed to:

Ben McKay, AICP
Deputy Director
P.O. Box 1607
Waukesha, WI 53187-1607

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Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

W239 N1812 Rockwood Drive
P.O. Box 1607
Waukesha, WI 53187-1607

Monday - Thursday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Global Water Center
247 Freshwater Way
Milwaukee, WI 53204

By Appointment


Phone: (262) 547-6721


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