Economic and Business Development

Listed below is some general information about the area including area statistics and current facilities, amenities, and major area employers. For more information about the area and business opportunities, visit the City of Ashland Chamber of Commerce website by clicking here, and the Ashland Area Development Corporation website (AADC) by clicking here.

Coming soon: List of City owned parcels FOR SALE

Ashland Community Profile

Community Overview

The City of Ashland is located at the base of the Chequamegon Bay on the southern shore of Lake Superior.   The City was founded in 1854 and is home to a National and State Registered Historic District downtown, dozens of historic homes and buildings, and the title of “Mural Capital of Wisconsin” given by the Wisconsin State Senate in 2005; our history permeates the city in everyday life. For thousands of years, the people of the Chequamegon Bay have built their economies on the environment of our area, most notably our lakefront. Native people were dependent upon hunting and gathering while those of European descent changed the economy to that of resource extraction. In the latter half of the 1800’s, extraction of timber and iron ore was critical to the economy along with the strategic location of these resources to Lake Superior. Throughout most of the 1900’s, industry was the mainstay of the economy with its dependency on water from Lake Superior. Ashland’s economy today is strengthened by the industries of manufacturing, health care, and education.

Geographic Information

  • Northern Wisconsin: Lake Superior Watershed Basin
  • Major Highways: US Hwy. 2 and WI State Hwy. 13
  • Nearest major cities: Duluth, MN and Superior, WI (70 miles to the west), Eau Claire, WI (160 miles to the southwest),  and Wausau, WI (160 miles to the southeast)

Population Statistics:

  • 2000: 8,620 residents               2012: 8,128 residents
  • Caucasian Population: 87%      Native American Population: 7.5%

Housing Data:

  • Average House Value: Approximately $100,000.
  • Median Household Income: $35,379.
  • Number of Housing Units: Approximately 4,000.
  • Over ½ of the homes were built before 1939.
  • 2/3rds of homes are Owner-occupied.
  • Average household size: 2.12.

Transportation Options:

  • Highways: U.S. Highway 2 and Wisconsin State Highway 13.
  • Public Bus: Bay Area Rural Transit (BART) provides public bus services in Ashland as well as connecting Ashland with nearby communities.
  • Local Airport:  JFK Memorial Airport with 5,200 linear foot runway.
  • Airports in the nearby cities of Ironwood, Michigan and Duluth, Minnesota provide nonstop air service to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Orlando.

Utilities and Service Data:

  • Natural Gas Suppliers: Northern State Gas and Xcel Energy
  • Electric Power Suppliers: Xcel Energy and Bayfield Electric
  • Water Service Supplier: City of Ashland
    • Source: Lake Superior
    • Treatment Type: Microfiltration
    • Average Daily Consumption: 800,000 gallons per day
    • Treatment Capacity: 2,000,000 gallons per day
    • Sewage Treatment Supplier: City of Ashland
      • Treatment Type: Oxidation Ditch
      • Average Daily Flow: 700,000 gallons per day
      • Treatment Capacity: 1,300,000 gallons per day
      • Elevated Storage Capacity: 3,200,000 gallons per day


Product or Service

Bretting Manufacturing Paper Converter Design and Manufacturing
Chequamegon Clinic Family Practice Health Care
Essentia Health Primary Care and Specialty Health Care Services
Larson-Juhl Picture Frame Manufacturing
Memorial Medical Center Critical Access Hospital, Behavioral Health Services, and 24-hour Emergency Care
Northland College 4-year Private Liberal Arts College
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Technical College







Government and Emergency Services:

  • Type of Government: Mayor and Common Council with City Administrator
  • Police: Number of Personnel
    • Full Time: 18 sworn officers, 1 Animal Warden, 1 Office Personnel
    • Part Time: 1 Part-Time Office Personnel
    • Fire: Number of Personnel
      • Full Time: 19 staff
      • Part Time: 8 paid on-call staff
      • Services: EMT, Hazmat, Ice Rescue

Business and Labor Facts:

  • Labor Force: 4,572
  • Unemployment Rate: 7.8%
  • The Ashland Area Development Corporation is a non-profit that offers a variety of financial programs, incentives, and an enterprise center in support of new and existing business in the Ashland area.
  • In 2012, the City acquired 52 acres of prime developable land to extend the existing Business/Industrial Park for future development opportunities.

Major area employers:
Financial Institutions:

  • Major Banks:
    • Northern State Bank
    • BMO Harris Bank
    • Associated Bank
    • Chippewa Valley Bank.
    • Credit Unions:
      • Superior Choice Credit Union
      • Northwoods Community Credit Union.


  • Local Telephone Service:
    • CenturyLink
    • Charter Communications
    • Internet Service:
      • CenturyLink
      • Norvado
      • North Coast Internet Services
      • The Daily Press newspaper reports on local news and events printed five days per week.

Climate Data:

  • The Bayfield Peninsula protects Ashland from the most severe winds, waves, and precipitation.
  • Average Annual Temperature: 40.5° F
  • Average High/Low in January: 20°/0°
  • Average High/Low in July: 79°/55°
  • Average Annual Precipitation: 30.1 inches


Educational Facilities:


Facility Name:


Marengo Valley Elementary School (Grades K-5) 171
Lake Superior Primary School (Grades K-2) 400
Lake Superior Intermediate School (Grades 3-5) 290
Ashland Elementary Charter School (Grades 3-5) 100
Ashland Middle School (Grades 6-8) 490
Ashland High School (Grades 9-12) 690
Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School (Grades K-8) 137
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College 325 FT200 PT
Northland College 554 (Fall 2011)


  • The Ashland Public School District boasts a low 15:1 ratio. The school system integrates technology (such as Smart Boards and online classes) with traditional education methods to educate students. Two elementary schools, an intermediate school, a middle school, and a high school service the community.
  • Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Community hosts a preschool, full-day kindergarten, and a school for grades 1st-8th.  The school has an 11:1 student-teacher ratio.
  • Ashland is home to Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College granting technical degrees and certificates, with a 91% employment rate within six months of graduation.
  • Founded in 1892, Northland College, a private four-year college known as the “Environmental Liberal Arts” school and is on the first tier of the U.S. News & World Report “Best Liberal Arts Colleges of 2011”.

Medical Facilities:

Ashland is home to the Memorial Medical Center and Clinics, providing ample health care options to area residents. MMC offers inpatient and outpatient services including medical-surgical; intensive care; obstetrics including labor, delivery, postpartum and recovery (LDPR) suites; behavioral health services and 24-hour emergency care. Six dental clinics and four chiropractors also serve residents of the city.

Other health care clinics and offices in Ashland include: Chequamegon Clinic, Main Street Clinic, Family Planning Health Care Clinic, Essentia Health, Bay Area Mental Health Center, The Lakes Community Health Center, Golden Living Center, and Ashland Health and Rehab Center.

Cultural and Recreational Facilities:

  • Library: Vaughn Public Library, Dexter Library at Northland College
  • Museums: Ashland Area Historic Museum
  • Movies and Theater: Bay Cinema, Chequamegon Theater Association
  • Golf Courses: Chequamegon Bay Golf Club (public)
  • Nearby Natural Areas:
    • Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
    • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
    • North Country National Scenic Trail
    • Copper Falls State Park
    • Annual Events:
      • Whistle Stop Marathon, Bay Days Festival
      • Book Across the Bay cross-country ski event
      • The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department
        • 2 Campgrounds
        • Bretting Community Center
        • Over 20 city parks (over 190 acres of green space)
        • Variety of youth and adult classes and programs
        • The 65-mile Tri-County Corridor Trail runs from Superior, WI to Ashland. A 10-mile loop through town takes bikers and pedestrians along the historic 5th Street Corridor and the Lake Superior shore, commonly known as Ashland’s Waterfront Trail.
        • Swimming opportunities are available along the public beaches on the lakeshore and at several hotels in town.
        • Located in a protected bay of the world’s largest freshwater lake, the Chequamegon Bay offers some of the best fishing in the country. Visitors and locals alike enjoy fishing throughout the year on the bay.
        • A new dog park is planned near the southern edge of the City and hopes to open in 2014.

Community Amenities:

A community survey conducted in August 2011 revealed that the creation of new jobs, protection of the environment, projection of an attractive image, and the provision of youth activities are “very or extremely important” to residents. The “Safe Routes to School” trail built to provide a safe and healthy way for elementary students to get to school was also noted as a “Top Accomplishment” for Ashland in the same survey. Public access to Lake Superior was proclaimed by many citizens to be Ashland’s most important attribute.

A variety of options exist to help senior citizens lead productive and happy lives. The Ashland County Aging Unit runs three senior centers in the area. Each of the centers offers exercise classes, continuing education courses, and nutrition programs. The Aging Unit also provides door-to-door transportation for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. The county’s Faith in Action program connects seniors with volunteers to help the seniors stay in their homes providing services including snow shoveling, grass mowing, cleaning, grocery shopping, and dog walking. Several assisted living facilities in the city provide housing for senior citizens and disabled individuals.