A large delegation from Door and Kewaunee counties met with state legislators April 19-20 in Madison to discuss initiatives of importance to economic development in both counties.

The delegation included a total of 66 citizens, elected officials and business and community leaders along with students from Sturgeon Bay, Gibraltar and Luxemburg-Casco high schools. The delegation divided into small groups and collectively met with nearly 100 state officials during the Door County/Kewaunee County Legislative Days event.

The agenda, formulated by input from community members of Door and Kewaunee counties, included discussions on water quality, affordable housing, childcare, commercial fishing of Lake Trout, repair of the historic Potawatomi State Park Tower and increased funding for youth apprenticeship.

“This event gives voice to our communities in Madison on some of the issues that are important to our areas,” said Ben Nelson, executive director for the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation. “It’s a relationship-building process as well. The saying I like to use is: ‘You either have a seat at the table or you’re on the menu.’ We want to have a seat at the table.”

This was the 10th biennial Door County/Kewaunee County Legislative Days event, which is organized by the Door County Economic Development Corporation and KCEDC. The grassroots event has contributed to numerous Door County and Kewaunee County achievements since it began in 2003, including development of agricultural nonpoint water quality standards to protect groundwater quality in Door and Kewaunee counties, Highway 57 improvement projects, building of the Maple/Oregon Street bridge in Sturgeon Bay, and funding to restore the Kewaunee Harbor Seawall.

“It is vital that citizens provide input and feedback for our state policymakers,” said Michelle Lawrie, executive director for the Door County Economic Development Corporation. “This biennial event is a great way to focus on the happenings at the state level and how they impact our residents and businesses.”

As it has in the past, this year’s event also served as an educational experience for area high school students.

“To be honest, I didn’t really know how the (advocacy) process worked,” said Eva Hau, a Luxemburg-Casco junior and youth apprentice who attended both days of the event. “This gave me a better understanding, and I found it cool that we could sit down with (legislators and staffers) and express our issues and concerns freely.”

Gibraltar School District aide Andrew Pirrung attended the event for the first time with four Gibraltar students and colleague Mary Kate McCormack.

“The whole experience was great and full of productive conversations,” he said. “It allowed the students to see government in action and get a better understanding of how to advocate for issues. It was really interesting to see the human element of state government.”

Watch the video below to see photos of the Door County and Kewaunee County delegation.