The streets were alive. Neon lit up the storefronts, bars and restaurants. People walked body-to-body up and down the sidewalks, laughing and looking for action.
And the music … it blasted up and down the avenue as doors opened and closed. Here a wailing saxophone, there a bass strumming the blues, and barely a block later, drumbeats thumping a world beat. The buzz was everywhere: “Norah Jones is in town with Cory Chisel!”
Such was the excitement of the first Mile of Music last summer in downtown Appleton. I recall the press conference that kicked off the idea just a few months before. It was hard to believe this idea of filling the clubs up and down College Avenue with music over a weekend could be pulled off so fast. But happen, it did. When I met Cory Chisel at the Appleton Downtown Inc. awards dinner in March – where he and Dave Willems of Willems Marketing were lauded for their work making the Mile of Music happen – it was obvious there was a story to share.
As we go to press the Steel Bridge Festival in Sturgeon Bay has just wrapped up, and as this issue lands on your desk, Summerfest in Milwaukee is likely still going on. Music obviously brings people together, and the economic impact is great. I’m constantly reminded of the message Fred Kent from the Project for Public Spaces brought when he keynoted our InDevelopment conference last winter: Make sure you have plenty to do in your downtown – at least 10 things within walking distance – and people will come.
Our cover story by Associate Editor Nikki Kallio shows how the August event (Mile 2) is coming together. We had so many cool images from our photo shoot as well as pictures taken during the event last year, we created a special slide show on our website. Check it out.
Clearly, it takes a community, with a whole lot of people marching to the same beat, to launch a great idea. This is what continues to happen with New North. Tucked in the center of this issue is the New North Mid-Year Report, which we at Insight have been publishing since members of our team began partnering with the economic development organization the past several years. Senior Associate Editor Sean Johnson reports on New North’s external marketing efforts, the revamp of the talent recruitment book and the federal grant the organization helped coordinate to curb the impact of lost defense contracts in the region.
You’ll want to look for your company’s name in the list of New North investors – and whether you find it there or not, I encourage you to check out our Face Time feature. Oliver Buechse of Associated Bank talks about his role in developing a focused strategy for New North, Inc. I think you’ll find it interesting that this native of Germany, who missed a sense of community he felt in his homeland when he spent a decade in California, is proud to say he feels completely at home here in Northeast Wisconsin. In the four years since he arrived here, Buechse has quickly found that the strong collaborations fostered by New North make the region stand out among other parts of the country. When he first saw the New North Business Locator Guide, packed with facts about the value of doing business in the region, his allegiance was solidified. It made him say, “Wow, am I glad to be here!”
I couldn’t agree more. Check out this issue and the New North Report, and I think you’ll find plenty to be proud of, too.