BONDUEL, Wis. — NiCole and Keith Fischer recently opened The Mill in Bonduel.

What You Need To Know

  • Bonduel is one of 10 Wisconsin communities in the Thrive Rural program

  • The two-year program helps communities tackle their economic hurdles and undertake long-term planning

  • It’s administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The business is bringing new life to a building in the community that sat unused for decades.

The Mill is a coffee shop and boutique that also incorporates bourbon, whiskey and wine sales. 

“We renovated an old building, an old feed mill that the last time it was working was in the ‘80s and made it into something that can bring people together, the community together and be a destination spot,” NiCole Fischer said. 

The couple said they see the potential for further development in the community located between Green Bay and Shawano.

“There’s a lot of land that could be used. There are a lot of vacant buildings that aren’t being used in a way that could bring more people to the community,” she said. “It does not have to be a drive-through community at all. We have so much traffic. I think we need more reasons for people to stop and appreciate our small town.”

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

The village of 1,400 people is one of 10 communities around the state that are part of the Thrive Rural program. It offers access to grants up to $25,000 as well as technical assistance for things like planning and grant writing.

It is administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. with help at the county and local level.

State officials said the goal of the two-year program is helping small communities take on their biggest economic hurdles and long-term planning.

Jesse Rankin is the director of municipal operations in Bonduel.

“What we plan on doing with that is to increase the housing pool in the village,” he said. “The second objective of that program is to revitalize the downtown area.”

Rankin — who grew up in Bonduel — envisions a different-looking community a decade from now. He said the village has added one new home in the last 20 years.

“The progress is to increase the housing quantity in the village which will also attract more businesses,” Rankin said. “You’ll have the workforce, not only the summer workforce, but the professionals who are looking to move their family into the village. Right now we lack working-wage housing.”

NiCole Fischer said she is confident in what the community can offer.

“We are already having plans to move forward with other businesses and ideas to bring more people to the area. That will hopefully inspire people to build in our community,” she said. “It’s a great school system, so there are a lot reasons to stay here and not just visit. We’re very confident with the support we’ve had that we want to continue to grow and build more businesses.”

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)