To kick off the process Atlas Community Studios with support from the City of Stevens Point and the Steering Committee hosted a variety of public input sessions.

The goal of these is to gather feedback and ideas from any and all area stakeholders on local challenges, needs and to establish a unified vision for the future. All efforts were made to reach out to constituencies that represent the full diversity of Stevens Point.

In total the team:

  • Created an online community survey for all interested Stevens Point stakeholders received 1,350 responses
  • Hosted 2 open-invitation public visioning sessions and one visioning session with the steering committee
  • Hosted 9 virtual focus groups of key identified constituencies
  • Conducted 12 individual interviews with various key leaders and stakeholders
  • Presented to the Common Council on overall project goals and welcomed feedback

Key Themes


  • Outdoor recreation/Natural Resources
  • Access to nature/Parks
  • Green Circle Trail
  • Sense of community/Small town feel
  • Location
  • UWSP/College town feel
  • Downtown
  • Farmers Market
  • Local food
  • River
  • Diversity
  • Focus on sustainability
  • Arts and culture
  • Affordable living
  • High quality of life
  • Diversity of economy


  • Housing – Appropriate options/varieties of styles and prices
  • Underutilized riverfront 
  • Diversity and inclusion 
  • Green Circle trail access from city
  • Declining population
  • Lack of neighborhood feel
  • Need for year round activities/venues
  • Community gathering spaces
  • Lack of identity 
  • How to grow and maintain small town feel
  • Lack of connectivity/public transportation 
  • Options for downsizers
  • Old housing stock 
  • Blighted properties
  • Not truly welcoming/inclusive 
  • Divisiveness 
  • Need for non-student focused entertainment options
  • Live entertainment

Community Input Results

What follows are selected highlights and responses of all of the community input sessions.

You can read the full report using the button below.

Community Survey Results

The Stevens Point Strategic Plan Community Survey was available online from July 20 to August 31, 2020 and garnered 1,345 responses. It was available to all stakeholders who wanted to participate and could be accessed via the city of Stevens Point website or through links sent via email or posted to social media. The survey was promoted via traditional and online media and sent to distribution lists of multiple local organizations, institutions, and businesses.

The survey was not intended to be a statistically representative demographic sample of Stevens Point’s resident base but rather an opportunity for all area stakeholders to lend their voices and perspectives to the city’s strategic planning process. Even so, all efforts were made to reach out to constituencies that represent the full diversity of Stevens Point.

For certain of the survey questions, Atlas has developed “word clouds” to demonstrate the tenor of respondents’ open-ended answers. The larger the word the more frequently that word was used by survey participants.

Selected individual responses:

  • “It’s central location to larger cities (Green Bay/Appleton – Madison/Milwaukee) and the Green Circle Trail.”
  • “The creative business environment. There are many unique businesses that are doing regional or even national business headquartered in Stevens Point such as Sentry, Skyward, and others.”
  • “Accessible and active downtown area. Lots of things for a wide variety of interests: library, farmers market, children’s museum, parks, restaurants, music venues, shops.”
  • “2nd oldest brewery based upon consecutive years brewing in the country.”
  • “As someone that has grown up in the city and what it used to be and the quiet streets by 9pm, I love how there are so many events from art to music to food to attend or be involved with. The biggest, most unique, most amazing thing is access to amazing, locally grown, clean, healthy, sustainable food.

Selected individual responses:

  • “A shopping/business/restaurant area that could be planned to allow growing accessibility from the Wisconsin River. We have jobs, but not enough people and this is needed to attract and keep people who come here to work.”
  • Utilize the riverfront more. I think developing some of the riverfront would draw in more people to visit and live here.”
  • “Family friendly water park/splash pad. We have nothing that very little kids can enjoy.”
  • A cultural community center/hub, something that celebrates, promotes, and increases the diversity of the area, enhances cultural understanding and opportunities, etc.”
  • “Though there has definitely been progress, I’d say further work towards making it easy and safe to get basically anywhere in the city via bike.
  • “A better sense of inclusion, I know that city officials are working hard to create this already and it is greatly appreciated, but there has been a lot of intolerance and negativity that has been getting more attention recently.”
  • Inclusive, large civic center as a place for gathering even in winter months. A place that is supported by the community (taxes), but also by users (rental or user fees) so there is a sense of investment.”

If you answered “no,” what could be done to make Stevens Point more inclusive?

Selected individual responses:

  • Have more festivals that focus on culture. The cultural fest is great but it’s only once a year & has a focus on many cultures. Would love to see activities focusing on Hmong population & Native Americans for example.”
  • “I think we are seeing progress, with the creation of a diversity committee, but I also think this is an area that can always do better.“
  • Involve people with lived experience on boards, committees, and in leadership roles to help our community understand what we can do better. It is through their lens that change will happen”
  • “I think UWSP is a huge part of what shapes the city and gives it life, and I was proud of how integrated the university was with the surrounding community. I come from another small town in WI, and the quality of that city compared to Point is dismal. I’m proud to be a Pointer, and I hope the city keeps up all of the amazing aspects that make it a great place to live.
  • “The city of Stevens Point has a lot of great things going for it, however in order to keep up with the needs of its citizens and future generations, it must continue to innovate. This will be a combination of promoting economic diversity, as well as individual diversity in the populations and overall social welfare.”
  • “I think a future in Stevens Point needs to keep including anyone and everyone. I feel that we do it well here but there is always room for improvement and making people knowledgeable.”
  • Our city is looking for an identity. Our parks and access to nature make us Point. Our focus should remain Environmental Sustainability & Education, The Outdoors & Recreation (especially all-season bicycling and disc golf), and Local Food & Farming.”
  • “I am one segment of the population and I probably fall into the category of an engaged citizen who feels like my voice is heard and that I have a lot of opportunity here. I am certain that is not the case for many other citizens of Stevens Point. We have to find a way to make sure everyone in our community has a voice.
  • “I think this small town has a lot of potential to be a unique cool town that’s also family friendly.”

College Students

The following responses are from survey participants who self-identified as college students.

Selected individual responses:

  • “I’d like to stay if there was a job opportunity in a field I studied in.”
  • “Needed to leave the state for a graduate school opportunity. I am hopeful that my future will bring me back to Point someday.
  • “I am a recent graduate of UWSP. I want to stay (and am currently staying) in Stevens Point because of many factors – affordable living, connected and conscious community, an abundance of kindness and good-valued people, CO-OP initiatives, clean water, clean air, heart of Wisconsin. I am currently not feeling the need to move elsewhere because I have been able to find jobs that allow me to stay. However, that is because my interests are broad and abilities are flexible – I am able to find different niches and am not constrained to one area of specialty.”
  • “Lack of performance venues and places to work on art after graduation. No professional level training”


The following responses are from survey participants who self-identified as entrepreneurs.

Selected individual responses:

  • “We need more entrepreneurial meetings at a local level for marketing or even inspiring new startups or partnerships.”
  • “Stevens Point is a very friendly town, however it can be difficult to establish a professional network as someone who has no connections to the area.”
  • More innovative options for seed money, financing, public-private partnerships, creating Stevens Point having a particular focus for what it is best at, etc.”
  • Information outreach in regard to entrepreneurial opportunities here in Stevens Point. Perhaps some kind of localized focused source of this info widely communicated through various local media.”
  • “I don’t think the goal should be a movement toward ‘more competitive’, but rather, ‘more cooperative’.”
  • “Affordable working spaces for young/emerging artists”
  • “Help with training on start up and mentoring first year”
  • “Partnering with organizations like Doyenne in Madison to provide female-focused entrepreneurial resources.”
  • “More outreach to surrounding communities. I live in Kronenwetter but come to Stevens Point often. I would be interested in participating in entrepreneurial networking opportunities.”
  • “I think it would be nice to have more places like CREATE that actively seek to help grow new and existing business via the right connections. Also, it would be nice to see a panel of investors that new entrepreneurs could come talk to and seek advice and resources from.”

Visioning Session Results

Two open-invitation visioning sessions were held for all interested Stevens Point stakeholders to participate in an online exercise to provide their feedback on the city and its future.

One session was held the afternoon of August 5 and the second the morning of August 6. The sessions were promoted via the media and on the city’s website.

The following are the results from the Poll Everywhere voting for each visioning session. This information as well as other feedback from the sessions were incorporated into the Stevens Point Community Survey.

  • Most of the respondents in both visioning sessions have lived in the Stevens Point area for over ten years
  • General sense of Stevens Point’s quality of life was that it was “good, but could be better”
  • Need for more affordable housing options probably the most consistent takeaway from the sessions as well as improving the quality of existing housing and protecting against gentrification
  • Overwhelming percentage of respondents answered “yes” to the question, “Have you, or someone you know personally, struggled to find appropriate housing in Stevens Point?”
  • Strong appreciation for arts, culture, and recreation amenitites and desire for even more options
  • Multiple participants cited University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as one of the community’s top assets
  • Desire for greater population diversity in Stevens Point and more inclusiveness for existing minority residents
  • Considerable feedback about the riverfront and opportunities to better connect it to downtown and develop new amenities, though not at the cost of the environment
  • Many calls for more diverse employment opportunities, including cooperatives
  • Preference from many respondents for enhanced public transit, including a downtown trolley
  • Range of opinions on what is needed to improve Downtown Stevens Point, from more housing and arts amenities to improved recreation infrastructure like bike paths and more family-friendly retail options
  • Wide variety of answers to the question, “What would you like Stevens Point to be known for?,” with many responses stressing a sense of “community”

Focus Group Results

Eight focus groups were held during the month of August via Zoom with constituencies from across the community. Interactive voting was conducted using Poll Everywhere software. Sessions included:

  • Retirees and Downsizers
  • Arts and Culture
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Education
  • Small Business
  • Health and Wellness
  • Young Professionals/UWSP Students
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A core team of local leaders provided input for Atlas on the potential attendee rosters for each group. Attempts were made to incorporate stakeholders representing minority or disenfranchised populations into the categories listed above. However, the core team decided that a focus group specific to diversity and inclusion issues was also necessary. That group will be held later in September.

The following are the results from the Poll Everywhere voting for each focus group. This information as well as other feedback from the sessions were incorporated into the Stevens Point Community Survey.