Economic Development

Economic development has seen significant changes in Lafayette County through the years. Established by Irish immigrants and lead miners in the early 1800s, the lead mining industry continued in importance through World War II and into the 1970s. Today, manufacturing and agriculture lead the county’s economic profile. Tourism also contributes significantly to the county’s economy.

Darlington is the county seat and largest city. Other leading communities include Shullsburg, Belmont, Argyle, Benton, Blanchardville, Gratiot, and South Wayne. Formed in 1847, Lafayette County has a total area of 643 square miles and a population of just over 16,000.

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Manufacturing is the leading industry providing employment in Lafayette County with metal workers, plastic workers, and other production workers accounting for the largest percentage of manufacturing occupations.

Economic development and financial incentives are available for new businesses and companies looking to expand or relocate to Lafayette County. Darlington has a modern industrial park with a complete infrastructure and a large number of support services.

The Lafayette County area is well-suited for agricultural and food-related industries. The Shullsburg Creamery, Roelli Cheese Company, and several other specialty cheese and dairy production plants are located within this highly productive agricultural county.

Other larger manufacturing businesses in the county include Crist Fencing and Concrete Reality, a division of Checker Tile Ltd.


Agriculture accounts for about 85% of the total business sales and provides about 54% of the jobs in Lafayette County. Dairy is the key agricultural industry with 13 dairy and specialty cheese production plants in the county.

Agricultural diversity is important in Lafayette County; we currently rank:

Second in the state in sheep and goat production
Fourth in the state in swine production
Fourth in cattle and calve production
First in the number of bee colonies
Second in number of goats
Third in alfalfa hay production
Fourth in corn for grain

Direct marketing sales contribute significantly to the county's agricultural sales. Farmers own and manage 85% of the land within the county, incorporating conservation methods into their farming practices to protect the natural environment.


Lafayette County is an Alliant Energy partner. Visit to learn more!