In the thick of preparing this issue for press, the news became official: Oshkosh would be the home for the D-League Milwaukee Bucks franchise.
We suspected that would be the case, given that Oshkosh has been planning the perfect venue for such a project for some time. But it was serendipity for Insight, since we had chosen Oshkosh as the host city for our annual InDevelopment conference, which we rotate between Green Bay, Appleton and Oshkosh each year.
The project was slated to carry on with or without the Bucks’ decision, but the news is stirring excitement that the vision for what is called the Sawdust District — a long-time economically challenged segment of the south-central city along the shores of Lake Winnebago — will come to fruition more quickly, giving momentum to the development of a spot with a ton of potential.
The anchor for the project is the privately financed 3,500-seat arena, which will host 24 home games for the Bucks D-League team and many other events throughout the year. Surrounding it will be the Pioneer Inn Resort and Marina, with room for restaurants, specialty retail and possibly Class-A office space. What’s really cool is that at last, the once-neglected part of town will open up views of the lake, making it especially attractive to developers. Bayland Buildings is signed on to build the new arena, which is now on a fast track to be completed by the first basketball game in November.
We expect a lot of buzz on all this at InDevelopment, coming up March 21 at the Oshkosh Convention Center, after Oshkosh city officials and project developers showcase the project during our developer briefings. It will follow what promises to be an upbeat keynote on the current climate for commercial development by Michael Brennan of the UW-Madison James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. Check out our special section on InDevelopment in this issue — it’s chock full of updates on commercial projects in the works throughout the New North.
Commercial development thrives in a strong economy, and in Northeast Wisconsin, the hottest projects right now are in multifamily housing and industrial buildings (check out our update on commercial real estate on page 25).
The local economy is only as good as the people working in it — and the need for skilled workers has been a growing concern among employers. The talent pipeline for IT workers is especially squeezed, and with this in mind, the relatively young Northeast Wisconsin IT Alliance recently hired its first director. Check out our Face Time interview with Kim Iversen, who left her global IT position with Kimberly-Clark to lead the charge for developing IT talent in the New North.
Besides targeting industries in dire need of talent development, leaders in the region recognize the need to make our communities more attractive to young professionals and the creative class. It’s exciting to see so many cool urban projects and events taking place, especially in Green Bay and the Fox Cities.
Young professionals’ groups throughout the region are at the forefront of this trend, and the YP Week events planned in April promise a lot of edgy stuff. In Appleton last year, politics and religion were the topics of a dinner hosted by the young professionals group Pulse. Pulse Director Adrienne Palm says it took a lot of hoop jumping to approve this year’s dinner theme: sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. And that’s just one of many events planned April 22 through 29.
Edgy enough for you? Stay tuned!