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Study Looks at Economic Benefit of Improved Internet Access for Seasonal Residents

Study will be discussed during July 11 County of Door Broadband Committee meeting

There are more than 9,570 seasonal units in Door County compared to 10,718 primary homes. Given those numbers, a new study concluded “it would be greatly beneficial to the local economy for secondary residents to extend their stay.” One way to do that, the study also learned, is with improved broadband services.

The study came from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater College of Business and Economics Fiscal and Economic Research Center, and was commissioned by two local organizations: the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC), and the County of Door Broadband Office. The study highlights the economic impact of broadband expansion in communities across Door County, specifically focusing on secondary residents. 

UW-Whitewater surveyed the secondary residents to measure the impact high-speed broadband expansion would have on their economic behaviors. Unlike general tourism activity, secondary residents are defined as those who own a home in Door County but do not list Door County as their primary residence.

“We knew from anecdotal evidence that residents desired enhanced broadband capabilities,” said DCEDC Executive Director Michelle Lawrie, who also serves as the vice chair of the County of Door Broadband Committee. “What we did not know was the economic impact that broadband expansion would have as a result of increased secondary resident activity.”

Key findings from the report on broadband deployment in Door County include:

•Secondary residents would stay in Door County about 15 more days per year if they had access to high-speed broadband, generating an additional $750,000 in state and local taxes.

•The extended lengths-of-stay would stimulate the economy with more than $18.6 million in incremental annual economic impact, over and above the $110 million that secondary residents generate annually.

•Over 137 full-time equivalent jobs would be provided in Door County, providing employees with over $5,500,000 in labor income.

“The impact of this study amplifies the importance of secondary resident activity in Door County,” said Hugh Zettel, District 14 County Board Supervisor who serves wards in the towns of Sevastopol and Sturgeon Bay, and also serves as chair of the County of Door Broadband Committee. “Secondary residents pay property taxes, serve as volunteers for Door County organizations, and provide philanthropic support for local nonprofits. They are an integral part of the County’s societal fabric.”

The complete study is available on the DCEDC website at livedoorcounty.org/broadband-access-study/, and will be presented to the County of Door Broadband Committee at its regular meeting on Thursday, July 11 at 10 am, at the County of Door Government Center, 421 Nebraska St. in Sturgeon Bay. A virtual option for the meeting will also be available through Zoom, with login information provided on the County of Door website co.door.wi.gov/.