About Manitowoc County

Situated on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and with a wealth of beautiful inland lakes, Manitowoc County boasts beautiful waterfront communities, vibrant and bustling downtowns, plentiful arts and entertainment options, restaurants and breweries, four seasons of outdoor recreation, and a lower cost of living — making the area a destination for visitors and new residents alike.

Home to 81,000 Wisconsinites, Manitowoc County is known for its maritime heritage that includes ship and submarine building. Best known for the submarines that were built here during World War II, the City of Manitowoc is designated an American World War II Heritage City. Today, that heritage lives on with NOAA-designated National Marine Sanctuary, yacht building, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, abundant charter fishing, and an active commercial cargo and heavy lift port. And the S.S. Badger car ferry’s trips across the great lake are officially designated as the route of U.S. Highway 10.

In addition to the population centers of the cities of Manitowoc (pop. 34,500) and Two Rivers, the picturesque county also boasts a multitude of small communities with a strong agricultural industry, ranking No. 5 in Wisconsin’s dairy output. Dairy is truly a cornerstone of the local lifestyle and any drive into the countryside will mean passing fields and barns of all sizes, with farms being home to anywhere from 20 to 5,000 cattle apiece.

The departure of several large manufacturers and thousands of jobs in the last 15 years became the catalyst for community and business leaders to collaborate to diversify the county’s economy. Today, manufacturing comprises nearly one-third of the jobs in the county, followed by healthcare and education, with growing retail and food industries.

The highly acclaimed Lakeshore Technical College in the county provides instruction in a variety of technical and skilled trades and, together with the University of Wisconsin Green Bay-Manitowoc and Lakeland University, supports the innovation and labor force needs for an ever-evolving economy.

Community partner

  • Progress Lakeshore is a private-public economic development organization that accelerates business success in Manitowoc County. Progress Lakeshore was founded in 2004 as the Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County, bringing together government and business entities to grow and diversify the local economy in response to the closure of Mirro Aluminum Company. The organization focuses on three pillars to influence the local economy: Retain businesses and associated workforce; grow existing and start-up businesses, and the local talent pool; and attract new businesses and talent to the area.

Progress Lakeshore is excited about increased collaboration with other RIN communities and the continued guidance, tools, and expertise from CORI. Being a member of the Network allows us to access the resources needed to continue to fulfill our mission to diversify our local economy.

Jamie Zastrow, Executive Director, Progress Lakeshore

Explore our Network

Today, these local leaders are focused on educating and training local residents in digital skills (especially those traditionally excluded from the tech industry), employing them in new economy jobs, and empowering them to launch startups that will drive a prosperous 21st-century economy. Diverse in geography, economic origin, and demographics, these communities represent the full spectrum of rural America.