RDA seeks way to increase impact

Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp.can supply plenty of support for the city’s Redevelopment Authority, but not a lot of manpower.

RDA Chairman Lee Gentine reported to the group Thursday on his recent meeting with SCEDC Director Dan Checolinski.

“The SCEDC is willing to support the RDA and whole-heartedly supports the endeavors of you folks in the downtown area, but they don’t have the resources for administrative or economic development support,” Gentine said.

What the county-wide agency can provide is information, data and connections to resources for downtown and other busiby nesses, he added.

City Administrator Brian Yerges noted that while the city does contribute funds to the SCEDC, it is a small amount compared to other governments and businesses.

RDA member Jackie Jarvis did point out that many of the larger business contributors to the public/private agency are Plymouth-based companies like Sargento, Masters Gallery and Plymouth Foam.

Gentine noted that one area the RDA could address is developing an inventory of downtown buildings, businesses and available space.

The SCEDC maintains a directory of available business and industrial space throughout the county, including the city of Plymouth, but the RDA members agreed that a specific listing for downtown Plymouth would be a valuable resource.

Yerges said he would have city staff prepare such a listing.

Authority members continued to discuss the need for a contact or liaison person between the RDA and downtown building and business owners, but agreed that finding funding for such a position would be a challenge.

“I think as much contact and input with business people as we can get is important,” RDA member David Williams commented. “I think it’s important that we get some feedback and I’d like us to give some thought to how we’re going to obtain that.”

“It should be a priority of the RDA to get that rolling, to help talk with downtown businesses,” Jarvis agreed.

Yerges emphasized that, with the city’s tight budget, funding for such a position is unlikely to come from the city.

RDA members also discussed a recent visit from Naletta Burr of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s Connect Communities program.

Among her recommendations, according to Gentine, was that Plymouth consider applying to place the downtown district on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The problem is that they regulate nearly everything you do,” RDA member Jerry Thompson said of the register.

But Jarvis responded that the National Register’s guidelines and restrictions only apply when property owners seek to use the tax credits available under the program, usually when they do remodeling or renovations.


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