Tough Economic Times Mean Local Governments Must Work Together

July 31, 2011

At a time when retailers are struggling, developments are at a standstill and municipalities are facing significant funding cuts, it is critical that municipalities work together to identify new, creative and smart approaches to revitalizing local economies and encouraging economic development.


Municipalities may independently recognize and implement the financing tools and other resources to help spur development without considering the larger regional benefit.


The current economic climate should encourage municipalities to look past municipal borders and recognize the importance of real estate developments on a regional basis. In Greendale, we have been energized by neighboring municipalities and their willingness to advocate for developments in Greendale. Although not under their jurisdiction, the leaders of neighboring communities have realized that an area like the 76th Street corridor, anchored by Southridge Mall, can be a nucleus of change that can spread throughout the region and benefit businesses, residents and governments that reside outside of Greendale. The support of Greenfield, Franklin, Oak Creek and Hales Corners was, and remains important to our success.


For several years now, it has been a top priority of the Greendale Village Board to explore various options for a revitalization of the 76th Street commercial area. Last November, we announced a partnership with the owner of Southridge Mall, Simon Property Group (SPG) to undertake a multi-million dollar redevelopment of Southridge Mall. Through our partnership, SPG committed to a multi-million dollar revitalization, $12 million of which is in the form of a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district, at no cost to Greendale taxpayers. As a result, we anticipate that the value of Southridge will increase by $52.5 million.


In order to set the nucleus, the decision to utilize a TIF was a carefully considered, well thought out strategic investment to help return Southridge to the dominance it once enjoyed. Following the announced investment in Southridge, including the addition of Macy’s, we have seen additional exciting opportunities arise in our community. The senior housing development Berkshire-Greendale is underway, a proposed Wal-Mart development was recently approved and most recently, BonTon announced that it will be remodeling and renovating its Southridge location.


The recent Aerotropolis Milwaukee initiative, unveiled by the Gateway to Milwaukee, is another great example in which eight Milwaukee County municipalities and airport connected business owners are working shoulder to shoulder to stimulate regional economic development and competitiveness. Recognizing these new opportunities for growth and development allows communities and businesses to maximize future return-on-investments and stimulate economic development for years to come.


Although it may be too soon to speculate on the greater impact of these investments in our community and throughout the region, we understand the strong regional financial foundation provided by destinations like Southridge and the airport and the need to help them compete within a global economy. It's vital for the long-term economic stability of Greendale and our neighbors.


Greendale and its surrounding communities have realized that local governments must work as a team. We can no longer compete as communities. Rather, in this global economy we must join together, pool our resources and work toward the success of the region. We have a long way to go and will likely need to continue to rethink and reevaluate the way local governments operate and attract new residents, businesses and opportunities, but looking at the good news coming out of Milwaukee’s South side, the tearing-down of municipal economic development boundaries is meeting success.

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