Last Wednesday, CARW welcomed three public officials to our Next Gen session. Mary Perry from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Tim Casey from the Waukesha County Center for Growth and Vanessa Koster from the City of Milwaukee joined the discussion. All three public officials stated that one reason that they love what they do is that their job is different every day. They provided the group with great insights to economic development within our state, counties & cities.
- Whether it is a call from someone inside or outside the state, it is their job to sell the local, city, county or state area and encourage businesses to come to Wisconsin. They are essentially brokers for the state of Wisconsin.
- Luckily, Wisconsin stayed a little more “normal” than some of the larger cities during the COVID shutdown. Construction continued so development was also allowed to continue.
- In general they are still having a hard time finding skilled labor. While it may not be the most pressing issue – they believe this will be top of mind again soon and has a big impact on development.
- Vanessa said one thing she hears from the development community is that they seek a streamlined process to simplify the approval process. Permitting, approvals, inspections etc, can be complicated vary by location. CARW has helped push a streamlined entitlement process. Time is often of the essence, let’s try not to put hurdles in the way of new development.
- The group encouraged brokers to reach out to elected officials and find out where vacancies are and what opportunities are available. For example, the City of MKE promotes use other than retail with big box locations (ex: allowing manufacturing).
- One of the biggest issues they are all facing is transit & transportation as well as affordable housing. Where do people live and where are the job centers. Wisconsin is not competitive when it comes to transit, this is something that needs to be addressed. The housing issue has not gone away. The cost of building materials are still way up,we still have a labor shortage and land is very expensive. Cost effective multifamily options are hard to come up with.
- Advice – Know the community you are working with. Some communities have an embedded DNA and may be close minded when it comes to new ideas. Get to know people! It is very important to have a network of who’s who and people that you can reach out to. Investigate funding incentives for different communities. Reach out to your public officials early on in the process they are there to help and can help send you in the right direction.