map showing location of New Richmond Municipality City of New Richmond
County St. Croix
Year Incorporated 1857
Population and Growth
Population (2014 if available, otherwise 2010, indicate) 8,375 (2010)
WI Workforce Development Region 8
Young Adult Gaining Measure 43% (WI median is -22%)
Young Adult Maintaining Measure 31% (WI median is 24%)
Social/Demographic Data
Racial stats, 2010 Census 94% White (Non-Hispanic)
1.5% White (Hispanic)
1.3% African American
0.6% American Indian or Alaska Native
0.7% Asian
0.3% Other
1.6% Two or More Races
Mean Income $69,840 (2015)
Median Income $53,265 (2015)
Year of Latest Comprehensive Development Plan 2005
Year and Amount of Last Referendum Passed (2007) $92.85 million
Notes New Richmond is served by the School District of New Richmond
Type Name Grades Served Private/Public
Elementary Hillside Elementary School K-5 Public
Paperjack Elementary School K-5 Public
Starr Elementary School K-5 Public
St. Mary's School K-8 Private
Middle New Richmond Middle School 6-8 Public
St. Mary's School K-8 Private
High New Richmond High School 9-12 Public

Conducting the Case Study in New Richmond

The following points briefly review how we developed our interview guide and interview contacts:

  1. Connect to University of Wisconsin-Extension:

    We reached out to UW-Extension in St. Croix County, requesting recommendations for community leaders who might be interested in our project.

  2. Connect to New Richmond Leaders:

    UW-Extension educator Eric Biltonen responded and recommended we reach out to a number of influential government and business leaders to create a core group.

  3. Develop Interview Guide and Contact List:

    We met with the core group to address the following three points:

    • How is this project relevant to New Richmond, and to your role in New Richmond?
    • What questions should we include in our interviews?
    • Who should we invite to interviews?
  4. Conduct Interviews:

    We administered the following interview guide to thirteen interviewees who we reached through recommendations from the core group.

  5. Present and Revise Results:

    We analyzed and summarized the results of our interviews, presented them to our New Richmond and Extension collaborators. Based on their feedback we conducted two more interviews and revised the research report.

New Richmond Interview Questionnaire
  1. How long have you lived here?
  2. How local is your family to where you live?
  3. What would you say to someone who is thinking of moving here?
  4. What would you say to a young adult (20-39) who is thinking of moving here?
  5. Why do people move here?
  6. Why do people stay here?
  7. What strategies or factors that attract young adults to where you live are you aware of?
  8. Where do young adults who live here work? What about other people who live here?
    Follow up: Work in the community, or in the cities?
  9. Where do young adults live around here?
  10. How would you want your town to grow? How would you like it to stay the same?
    Follow up: How do you feel about population growth in your town.
  11. Do you feel integrated or welcomed in your community?
  12. Is your life here different than you thought it would be? Is it better? Worse?
    Follow up: Ask if not answered in above question: Why did you move here?
  13. How many people do you know in your town?
  14. What does community mean to you? What does community look like here?
  15. Who contributes to your community?
  16. What community groups are influential to people around here? Which ones are helpful?
  17. What is entertainment like around here? What do you do for fun?
  18. Where do you go to shop?
  19. What do you think of shopping opportunities around here?
  20. What are the schools like here?
  21. What do you use that is outside of the community?

Results For New Richmond

While the identities of interview participants remain confidential, a few key characteristics may prove useful to readers in their analysis of these findings.

Overall, our thirteen interviewees repeatedly cited a number of factors that were attracting young adults, and keeping them in the community.

Small-Town Feel, Great Community

Ten of the thirteen participants described New Richmond as either "great," "wonderful," or "nice." The overall perception is that New Richmond is a "great community" that is just the right size.

Along with describing its "small-town" feel, six interview participants also described it as having a mix of small town and larger community characteristics:

The right-sized small-town feeling and sense of community, particularly for young families or those interested in raising children, may be a factor in retaining young adults in New Richmond.

Interview participants also generally perceived New Richmond as a welcoming community. This is particularly noteworthy given how many of the interviewees were newcomers. But three interviewees did mention that it was difficult for young adults to "break into" the community or connect with other young adults.

Proximity to Urban Centers

At some point in every interview people at least mentioned New Richmond's proximity to larger places, and seven of the thirteen participants coupled their positive perception of New Richmond with proximity to Hudson (WI), Stillwater (MN), and the Twin Cities (MN). Proximity to other urban areas is important for additional jobs, but also for shopping and other amenities that are not present in New Richmond. Participants offered the following perspectives on the value of New Richmond's location in relation to more populous places:

There was a lack of agreement among interview participants about whether or not there were adequate jobs in New Richmond. Overall, eight participants believe there is a near even split between those that work in townand those that work out of town. Several others believed that most people work in the Twin Cities.

Affordable Home Ownership

One of the often mentioned appeals of New Richmond, outside of its small-town right-sized culture was the cost of living. Particularly important to people was the affordability of housing. Six people mentioned the cost of housing, contrasting New Richmond with either the Twin Cities or nearby Hudson.

It is worth noting, however, that when people discussed the availability and affordability of housing, they were referring to home ownership.  Two people mentioned that affordable rental housing seemed more difficult to come by.

Good Schools and Family-Oriented

All but one participant perceived the schools in New Richmond positively. A large referendum to fund new school infrastructure increased taxes in New Richmond, which was noted by at least two participants. Despite a seemingly tongue and cheek attitude towards the high taxes at times, the overall feeling is that New Richmond is attractive for young adults partly due to the school system.

Desire for Steady, Tempered Growth

With the new bridge connecting Wisconsin and Minnesota near Stillwater, New Richmond participants desire growth in their town, but want that growth the be responsible and tempered. Many shared that they wish to see growth in businesses, particularly those that are not currently in New Richmond. Participants overwhelmingly want to keep the small-town feel of New Richmond. Nine participants directly mentioned growth in relation to their perception of the current tight-knit community and small-town feeling.

How New Richmond Compared to Other Municipalities

Our team completed a case study of nearby Somerset, based on seventeen interviews. The study revealed some common themes between Somerset and New Richmond. Our findings in New Richmond were also reminiscent of other municipalities like De Pere, Brooklyn, and Evansville.

Proximity to Urban Centers

In both Somerset and New Richmond, proximity to Hudson, Stillwater, and the Twin Cities was mentioned by nearly all participants. In both municipalities, participants noted a split between those that work in the area, and those that commute. Overall, people perceive that roughly half work out of town and half work in the area in both places. Somerset and New Richmond differed slightly in that many Somerset participants noted leaving the community for much or nearly all of their shopping, food, and entertainment needs. In New Richmond, many stated that they shopped locally for groceries, but frequently left town for clothes shopping and to have more diversity in food options.

Proximity to urban centers was also a prominent factor in Brooklyn and Evansville near Madison. In Somerset, a handful of participants mentioned that the proximity to other towns gave them the sense that Somerset is a "bedroom community," meaning that people may live in town, but are out of town for work and shopping during the day. This sentiment was similarly expressed in both Brooklyn and Evansville, towns within a half an hour of Madison and Janesville. In Brooklyn, residents left the community for nearly everything but the school, bank, and gas station. Evansville has some shops, other employment, and a couple dining options. However, it was frequently stated that residents utilize amenities in places other than Evansville. While New Richmond residents did not so often characterize the town as a "bedroom community" they frequently mentioned leaving town to access a variety of amenities. These amenities were mostly those that are not available in New Richmond (clothes shopping and an international airport), or that allowed for a greater diversity in choice.

Participants in De Pere noted that they valued their proximity for employment opportunities and larger entertainment such as major league sporting events and touring concerts in Green Bay. De Pere is also located near a highway that has access to Green Bay to the north and several cities for employment or family connections to the south.

So What?

Some of the results from our study may not be surprising to you. Many of the themes brought up by participants are indicative of a healthy, thriving community. While you may not be surprised to hear that a strong school system and proximity to another urban area for shopping and/or jobs are important to community members, it is important to remember that there are many communities that are struggling to retain their young adults due to a lack of these community amenities and attributes. We hope that the results of this case study affirm the good work being done in your own community while aiding others who will greatly value the observations and results gathered in your community.

In combing through the qualitative data behind this study, several themes have emerged that have important implications for New Richmond in the future. These themes are described in greater detail here.

Schools and Referenda

While only two participants mentioned New Richmond's large school referendum, the results are certainly not lost on community members. The school system was almost unanimously praised by participants. The positive perceptions of the schools were not limited to the local K-12 school district. Interview participants also mentioned the local technical college. One participant noted that the technical college is particularly important for local employers looking for recent graduates to hire. Others noted that the high school focuses on preparing students for life after school in general while also offering courses with college credit. The presence of the technical school, coupled with a strong local school district, helps get people into the area workforce.

New Richmond has also seen the other side of the coin. Prior to the referendum, one participant noted that they were apprehensive about the idea of moving to New Richmond due to the district's bad reputation. Clearly the referendum and other local initiatives have changed residents' minds. The schools were highly regarded by participants in this study. Community support of the local school system is an attractive feature to young adults, especially those interested in starting or growing a family. The schools also provide a number of activities and opportunities for socializing. Many find a sense of community through their children's and their own involvement with the schools. The challenge for New Richmond will be to maintain that reputation over time as the new schools age and, if the local population continues to grow, run out of space.

Growth and the New Bridge

As in many other places in our study, New Richmond residents are aware that the new bridge connection to Stillwater, Minnesota will bring about growth and change. They have a desire for that growth to be steady and thoughtful. This could be a signal to city officials and other businesses to pay attention to the kind of growth that is taking place in New Richmond following the completion of the bridge. It seems to be an opportunity for desired growth, but should be done thoughtfully and with input from the community. Most seemed to see the growth as an opportunity for more amenities that they currently travel to other towns and cities to access. Residents generally thought that growth would positively influence their food options in town.

It is important to note here that one of the attractive features of New Richmond is that it is close enough to the Twin Cities to commute for work. Many residents mentioned that they can earn a city salary and live in New Richmond where the cost of living is significantly lower. People also seem to prefer communities like New Richmond due to their "small-town feel" that is markedly different from living in the city. With the new bridge connection to Minnesota, more people will likely become charmed by communities like New Richmond. The challenge will be to keep the small-town feeling and generally low cost of living while growing to meet the desires of current and new community members.