Collaboration is essential when it comes to economic success, according to Rocky Marcoux, commissioner for Milwaukee’s City Development Department.
Marcoux, who led several successful efforts to attract new employers to the city while revamping neighborhoods and commercial areas, was the keynote speaker Thursday at InDevelopment 2011 at the KI Center in Green Bay. More than 200 people involved in commercial development from throughout the New North attended the Insight-sponsored event, which featured panel discussions, a tour of Green Bay developments and speed networking opportunities with local economic development personnel.
“By working together in the Milwaukee area, we’ve been able to do more by working with our fellow communities and counties, then we would have been able to do on our own. By working together here in the New North, you should be able to have similar success,” he says.
When it comes to development, cities should put together a comprehensive plan, find private sector partners and work with local leaders to bring it all together, Marcoux says. “It’s not easy, but it can be done,” he says.
In Milwaukee, for example, the city focused on the Menomonee Valley and the 30th Street Corridor, which featured abandoned industrial areas. Now, Marcoux says those same areas are coming back to life with new businesses.
Tax incremental finance districts (TIFs) also played an integral role across Milwaukee as older areas were revived and retrofitted for new purposes and businesses. For example, the Park East freeway was torn down and replaced with a system of streets and boulevards that reunited formerly separated neighborhoods. By investing in infrastructure, the city was able to create a foundation for success.
Marcoux says it’s important for everyone to be a cheerleader for the area and talk up its high quality of life and “be excited about where we’re from. Everyone plays a role in economic development. When it comes to economic development, you need to keep at it and work toward your goal.”
–By MaryBeth Matzek