Nelessen: Younger generation drives development

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
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At Friday’s InDevelopment Conference at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, world-renowned urban planning expert Tony Nelessen delivered some “hard, tough recommendations” for the future of the Fox Cities: Incorporate a variety of transportation options, include pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and pay attention to what the Millennial generation wants.

 “They think as a team, and this is going to transform everything,” Nelessen told the crowd of about 300 area developers, real estate professionals, municipal officials and other business leaders. The Millennial generation includes young people in their early 30s down to their early teens.

 Nelessen, who was the event’s keynote speaker and author of Visions for a New American Dream, also emphasized the need for planning and cooperation between local, state and federal officials as well as with developers, bankers, engineers and environmentalists as they plan a future for a new generation of Fox Cities residents.

 “The Baby Boom Generation will no longer be in control by 2020,” Nelessen said. “It will become a whole other world. The question is how can you profit from it? I think the profitability is enormous if the right decisions are made.”

 Nelessen continued his visit with a breakout session that included a ranking of development ideas for the Fox Cities (everyone in the session – 100 percent of the participants – said adding more bike paths to the area would be desirable).

 Other breakout sessions were presented by Gwen Carr of the Tribal Procurement Technical Assistance Center; Jim Bath, director of the Research and Engineering Center of Excellence for North American and European Personal Care at Kimberly-Clark; and Shannon Meyer Full, president of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

 The conference also included a speed-networking event and booth talks on development-related topics that included social media, legal issues in commercial development and the impact of appraisals on real estate deals. The day concluded with a visit from Paul Jadin, CEO and secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

 Brian Oleson of OMNNI Associates, who served on the InDevelopment Event Planning Committee, said he enjoyed learning about self-directed IRAs at one of the booth talks and that the networking event is always great for connecting with different groups.

“Everybody seemed to be excited to be there,” he said. “People were optimistic, and it seems like there’s a lot of hope that things are turning around.”

 — By Nikki Kallio