South Milwaukee is a crossroads when it comes to economic development.
We have built a strong foundation for growth, are witnessing some real successes and have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape who we are and where we’re headed. At the same time, we are facing some of the biggest economic (re)development challenges we’ve ever faced as a city,
We need help — the right person to help guide us through this critical time.
With that in mind, we are creating a new Economic Development Director position, a limited term employee who will spend the next two to three years, maybe longer, leading our work to bring key elements of our comprehensive plan to life.
The council voted earlier this month to create the position, and we posted the job last week. From the position advertisement …
The City of South Milwaukee is accepting applications for the position of full-time Economic Development Director. This is a contract employment opportunity, with an expected minimum duration of two to three years. This position is responsible for providing professional-level leadership work in planning and implementing programmatic activities to develop and support economic development in the City of South Milwaukee. This position will provide professional-level economic development services, including management and execution of economic development projects, outreach, advertising and promotion, and other economic development-related tasks to achieve City goals and objectives. This position will serve as an advocate for economic development in the community, and as a liaison between business owners and the municipality to reach mutual economic development goals. This position is being advertised at a time where significant leadership is needed in the redevelopment of South Milwaukee’s historic downtown; one million square feet of available manufacturing, office and warehouse buildings in the city center, and other significant redevelopment “opportunity sites” across the city. The ideal candidate will have a passion for economic development and will work to capture and add to the recent positive momentum of the city and strive to encourage and maintain a vibrant local economy.
In other words, we need someone who is just as comfortable in meeting with a potential developer as he or she is in diving into the financials of a potential development, someone who can go from a discussing expansion options with a small business owner to discussing high-level policy at a council meeting, someone who is just as comfortable with the chamber president as the council president.
We’ll consider a wide range of candidates, but I am hoping to find someone who has already lived this work in their community, or someone who is living this work now. Perhaps he or she has a leadership role in economic development, or worked in the administration of a community that is overcoming its own development challenges, and is looking for a new challenge. Maybe he or she was a political leader in such a city, or a consultant that was part of that work.
Whatever their background, we need someone to come in and hit the ground running, get right to work on some of the big projects in front of us, projects like …
- The potential redevelopment of more than 1 million square feet of industrial, warehouse and office space downtown. This includes the Caterpillar campus, where 750,000 square feet of buildings were recently put up for sale or lease, and the Johnson Health Tech property along 12th Avenue, where more than 250,000 square feet is coming available as the company plans a move to a new location in Racine County later this year. That news broke last week.
- Our ongoing work in revitalizing Milwaukee Avenue and the rest of our city center, where the focus remains on working against the downtown plan. This includes a great start to our Downtown Revitalization Grant program, early work in forming a business improvement district, and a soon-to-be-announced designation as a Connect Communities (Main Street program) city, in addition to our continued work in business recruitment and retention efforts.
- The planned redevelopment of the property at 11th and Madison Avenues into a mixed-used development. The more than $6 million project is still very much alive, and developers Vetter Denk told me recently they remain committed to their plans to bring forward a development plan that will be a game-changer for our city center. Expect a plan soon.
- Redevelopment of other key “opportunity” sites across the city as identified in the comprehensive plan, including the former AMF property, areas along Oak Creek north of downtown, and key parcels near South Chicago Avenue.
So there is no shortage of work to do, and I’m excited to do it.
We are up for the challenge, and we will do this right. We have momentum, and we can’t lose it. Our new economic development director will help make sure of that.
Know someone who may be interested? Have them apply online.