On February 13, 2019, Maranatha Baptist University & Partnership Bank hosted the seventh annual Economic Business Breakfast. This year, the panelists discussed the topic: “Community Growth: What, How, and Why Communities are Growing.”
Steve Board, Director of Development for MBU, began the breakfast by showing a short video clip, Another New Development (AND), which emphasized the work of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce Collaboration Team. The video shared the positive development activities happening in the Watertown community.
After the video, Steve Board turned the breakfast over to Nate Salas, President and Chief Relationship Officer of Partnership Bank in Watertown, to moderate the panel discussion: How can cities and counties continue to aid residents and businesses in their local communities?
This leading question led to a series of other questions, such as: what kinds of incentives could be offered to businesses and residents, what best practices and processes are currently utilized within successful communities, how should communities deal with absent landlords and those unwilling to improve their properties, and why are communities hesitant to embrace new/different approaches?
The panelists were Kristen Fish, Executive Director of the Watertown RDA, Vickie Pratt, Executive Director of Thrive ED, and Bob Duffy, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the city of Oconomowoc.
Some specific questions the panelists answered were:
- What are some headwinds communities are facing in terms of economic growth, and what are some strategies to counter those headwinds?
- What differentiates a developing and a stagnating community?
- What are some incentives communities can use to attract development?
The panelists emphasized that workforce issues were a common hindrance for local businesses and potential firms seeking to relocate. Each emphasized that people are more likely to seek out places they desire to live first, then seek employment opportunities. Therefore, the panelists emphasized that business depends heavily on the housing development and amenities available within communities.
The communities can provide support for the businesses seeking new locations by helping them get to “yes” by suggesting that communities need to be welcoming and providing clear policies and processes allowing for the timely relocation’s of businesses.
Steve Board announced that the next business breakfast is scheduled for Thursday, April 4, 2019, with the topic of: “Renewable Development: Invenergy-Badger Hollow & the New Advances in Energy Development,” which will be presented by Dan Litchfield, Director of Renewable Development at Invenergy. Mr. Litchfield will discuss advances in Solar & Renewable Energy Sources and the proposed Solar Farms in Wisconsin.
Register here for this upcoming business breakfast.
The breakfast included more than 150 individuals, with community representatives joining MBU faculty, staff and students. Watch the video of the breakfast here.