From the Editor – Join us Feb. 27 to hear 'The Power of Place'

Posted on Jan 1, 2014 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

No matter what field or industry you’re in, if you care about the future of the place where you live, you won’t want to miss Fred Kent.

Who is Fred Kent? He’s an authority on revitalizing city spaces, one of the foremost thinkers in livability, smart growth and the future of the city.

He will keynote the fifth annual InDevelopment conference Feb. 27 in Appleton.

As founder and president of the Project for Public Spaces, Kent has been involved in “transforming” city centers throughout the United States and worldwide, including the people-centric Times Square. He once studied with renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Did I mention, his ideas are provocative, envelope-pushing and spot-on?

Kent, based in New York City, came highly recommended to our event planning committee at Insight Publications for his pioneering work in creating vibrant places. His philosophy: We need to create multiple-use spaces that draw people – lots of people.

Think about it. If you’re walking down a street trying to decide on a restaurant, do you pick the one with empty tables? I’ll bet you would rather stand in line with others to wait for a table at a crowded spot you know is really good.

Or maybe you’re entertaining out-of-town guests who want to see your downtown – do you know what you want to show off, where you might shop, eat or catch a show later? How many things can you do within a couple blocks?

Kent says the magic number is 10.

“This is what we call turning everything upside down to get it right-side up,” Kent told me in a phone interview. “What’s really fun is you can explain to people why a place needs to be turned upside down – when you show them development isn’t about isolated institutions with parking lots.”

His talk, sponsored by First National Bank Fox Valley, is part of a day coordinated by Insight Publications, designed to appeal to commercial real estate developers, economic development professionals and community leaders.

But as I said, you don’t have to be a developer to attend InDevelopment. Our early-bird pricing ($55 for the day, including lunch) is good through the end of January. Check out “The Power of Place,” this month’s Connections feature for details.

It’s no secret being in the right place at the right time is key to successful development. This month’s cover story on Dermatology Associates is a case in point. Founder and President Dr. Ken Katz recognized a decade ago that Wisconsin and the Midwest, especially outside of urban centers, was underserved in his medical specialty.

After expanding beyond his clinic’s Manitowoc headquarters into Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay, he realized the enormous advantage in making his business scalable. One day, he literally bought a map at a gas station and circled the places he thought needed a Dermatology Associates clinic. Today, his practice is the second largest of its kind in the U.S. Check out the story by Associate Editor Nikki Kallio to find out how he made it happen.

As we begin a new year, we as business owners like to take a look at what’s going on within our local economy for clues we can use in our own planning. The First Business Economic Survey offers a wealth of information, and after reading our story, you may want to go online for the complete survey results. You’ll see that in 2013, profitability was off a bit for many in our region. The good news? More than three quarters of businesspeople surveyed expect to do much better in 2014.

We at Insight wish you a successful and prosperous New Year!

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →