It’s been a good couple of weeks for the outlook of downtown South Milwaukee — the entire city, for that matter.
A quick recap …
- The nine-member Downtown Advisory Committee has begun meeting. They are working on establishing a firm mission, vision and strategy for the committee — and beginning to work on tackling the key issues facing our city center. It’s a formalized voice we’ve lacked in this debate for a long time. Too long.
- We’re moving ahead on our comprehensive plan and downtown plan updates. At its meeting two weeks ago, the city council formally directed our city engineer to prepare and put out a request for proposals to planning firms. Proposals will be due by April 9, and we’re asking that the plans be substantially complete by the end of the year. What are we looking for? The Plan Commission and the downtown committee jointly met earlier this month to discuss the details of the RFP. It was a great discussion. One key part: We must value creativity in this process, look for firms that can bring us new ideas and fresh approaches to our city and downtown, concepts that we can put into practice for short-, medium and long-term success. I can’t wait to start.
- Also, we have hired a new economic development coordinator. Robin Grams starts Monday, March 23. He has a passion for economic development and the skills, training and personality to make a real difference. Robin has a master’s degree in public administration (emphasis on urban planning and management) from Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, where he also worked as a planning intern for the City of Indianapolis. He also studied history and urban and regional studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and was a member of its NCAA Division I swim team. I’m confident he’ll do a great job in serving as our point person for business recruitment and retention across the city. He’ll also play a significant role in working with the downtown committee in developing the downtown plan, and he’ll work closely with our Community Development Authority in marketing our tax incremental financing district properties.
All of these efforts — the formation of the downtown committee, development of the plan, and hiring of dedicated economic development support — are key building blocks we need for South Milwaukee’s future.
I’m excited to see this foundational work come alive. It will make a real difference, for the long term, this as we continue to work hard to attract new businesses and other development to our city center every day.
Momentum continues to build. I hope you feel it.