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7 Reasons to Build Your Business in Sheboygan, WI

This friendly and supportive community is committed to bettering businesses.

By Heather Cherry on May 9, 2023

Ladies Night Out Sheboygan
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

Thinking of starting a business and looking for the ideal location? Consider Sheboygan County in east central Wisconsin.

Many global businesses like Johnsonville, Sargento and Kohler call Sheboygan County home, most of them still family-owned and operated. But the region also is friendly for startups — from its central location and business-friendly tax climate to its highly-skilled workforce, resources for entrepreneurs and a focus on research and development.

And you can’t beat the quality of life. Sheboygan is a destination town known for its lake life and top-ranked education system, but best of all, it’s affordable for residents and businesses alike.

Ahead, three business owners share why starting a business in Sheboygan, WI, was the right move.

1. People are friendly in Sheboygan.

The Midwest is known for friendliness, which is very much the case for folks in Sheboygan. One business owner says the “Wisconsin nice” reputation is one reason she chose to move her business from Louisiana.

“People here are genuinely kind and welcoming,” says Stephanie Hoskins, founder of Debtle and chairperson of business and entrepreneurship at Lakeland University. “We were contemplating if we could give Sheboygan County a go for our business. My husband, and co-founder, got connected with the Sheboygan County Economic Development Center (EDC) and joined a program that united entrepreneurs and innovators. We were quickly pulled into that network and connected with other founders, small businesses and neighbors.”

WordHaven BookHouse owner Kelly D. Holstine moved to Sheboygan from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and finds the folks of Sheboygan to be friendly and welcoming. “There are lovely human beings here that have hearts,” says Holstine. “People show up for each other.”

2. Everything is affordable — from housing to education.

The average cost of living in Sheboygan is $1,417 per month, according to livingcost.org, and Sheboygan ranks as the least expensive city in Wisconsin.

“The cost of living in Sheboygan is low, including businesses,” says Hoskins.

Lakeland University
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

3. Top-notch adult education opportunities are affordable and within reach.

Sheboygan County has some of the best options for adult education opportunities, and there are plenty of universities or technical colleges to choose from. But in particular, Lakeland University’s Kellett School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees designed for the busy, working adult through their evening and online courses.

“The Kellett School is perfect for entrepreneurs who want to start something but might be lacking some skills, or realize they may need to return to school,” says Hoskins. “This is an experiential learning place, and you can get college credits for internships or jobs — making their education an affordable and flexible option.”

Velvet Sheep Farms
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

4. Resources for entrepreneurs are available and easy to use.

Not only are community leaders willing to help businesses start and grow in Sheboygan, but valuable resources like the Sheboygan County EDC and Visit Sheboygan are available.

“There is a lot of support for business owners here,” says Holstine. “Before WordHaven Bookhouse, I had never owned and operated a physical business. The business counselors at the EDC offered a ton of support, answering even my most random questions.”

Josh Lundgren-Dolan, co-owner of Velvet Sheep Farm, said Visit Sheboygan was invaluable to building their tourist-based business.

“Visit Sheboygan found us right away and was very interested in our business,” he says. “They helped us with marketing and networking with local entities like Travel Wisconsin to gain exposure to the community for our wool products.”

The Bull
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

5. Sheboygan is a small town offering big-city amenities.

Sheboygan is positioned perfectly between two major cities, creating a viable business ecosystem.

“When you combine the two ecosystems of Green Bay and Milwaukee, it is much like a larger city or location, but at a fraction of the cost,” Hoskins says.

And because Sheboygan is a destination town, it has more unique shops, restaurants and entertainment than other small towns may offer. This was a deciding factor for Lundgren-Dolan, who says they didn’t consider Sheboygan for their business until they discovered all it had to offer.

“It is a great place from a tourist standpoint — there is plenty to do and businesses that cater to travelers. In addition, we have world-famous golf courses and are close to larger cities,” says Lundgren-Dolan. “Sheboygan is the best of both worlds — outreach and utilization of things to do, but a simpler agrarian climate for our sheep farm. These things come together to provide a great climate for business.”

On the water - Sheboygan
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

6. Outdoor activities are plentiful and offer unique experiences.

Sheboygan has been a surf destination for more than 50 years. It is known as the freshwater surf capital of the world or the “Malibu of the Midwest,” offering some of the best waves on the Great Lakes.

“I picked Sheboygan to live here before starting my business,” says Holstine. “I visited here when I was in my twenties and came back as much as possible because I would think about Sheboygan often, especially the water. The spirit of the lake feels magical — you feel connected to souls beyond Sheboygan when you’re here.”

Lake life is a big part of outdoor activities in Sheboygan, but that’s not all there is to offer.

“We appreciate the nature here — especially the local and state parks. There are a lot of conservation efforts to preserve the great forests,” Hoskins says. “The great infrastructure here makes it easier to be outdoorsy.”

Hiking in Sheboygan
Courtesy of Sheboygan County EDC

7. Sheboygan has a robust public school system — perfect for raising a family.

Kohler, Oostburg and Howards Grove School Districts are among some of the top ranked in Wisconsin. And with lower than national average student-teacher ratios, these schools are super welcoming. Teachers are willing to help with anything students need, and academics are a top priority. According to state test scores, 68% of students are at least proficient in math and 67% in reading in the Kohler School District.

Area families agree that Sheboygan’s robust public school system is perfect for raising a family.

“We have a very young family — three children under 5. The public schools in Wisconsin are incredible. Preschool is included for everyone, which differs from many other places, where kindergarten is the first school experience for most children,” Hoskins says.

Living in Sheboygan offers a quality of life like none other. From a dense suburban environment to easily accessible resources and small and welcoming communities — you can have it all in Sheboygan, and at an affordable price. If you’re looking for the perfect place to build your business, you just found it.

This article was sponsored by the Sheboygan County EDC.

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