Downtown manager should pay big dividends

WE ALL MAY BE Badgers in Wisconsin, but there are times when some of us seem to be more from Missouri by nature.

You know – Missouri, the Show Me State.

Various proposals have been made over the past several decades to create some kind of manager position for Plymouth’s downtown to coordinate marketing, development, recruitment and other efforts to boost the central district.

Plymouth had a chance to get in on the Main Street program when the state of Wisconsin was getting that started back in the 1990s, but many couldn’t see the potential value in that and take the steps necessary to provide the funding to make it work.

Instead, Sheboygan Falls got in on the program and it has proved wildly successful over the years.

A decade or more ago, a proposal was floated to create a business improvement district for downtown Plymouth in an effort to raise funds to finance the creation of a downtown manager position.

A BID would add several cents per thousand to the property tax bills of property owners in the district established to finance a particular project or effort. In this case, it would have been the salary and costs associated with a downtown business manager.

While many downtown business and property owners were on board with the proposal, there was enough reluctance among the majority that the BID never got created. The gist of the opposition was that many involved could not see an adequate return on their investment of additional tax dollars – despite the success of the Main

Street program in Sheboygan Falls and BIDs in

Sheboygan.

The problem is that many of the things a downtown manager would coordinate – promotional efforts, advertising, business growth and development, new business recruitment and more – are things that individual downtown business owners are too busy to do effectively because they are too busy trying to keep their own business going.

Now the Redevelopment Authority and the Chamber of Commerce, working with the Downtown Business Association, have raised the money to finance a two-year pilot program to hire a parttime downtown business manager.

The funds will be funneled through the Lakeshore Community Foundation to the chamber and the new manager will be located in the downtown.

The city is fortunate that the funds have been found for this pilot program, but the key is that it is only a two-year pilot program. After that time, other funding sources will need to be found to keep the downtown manager in place.

We’re confident that, with the right person on the job, the results of having a downtown manager will convince skeptics and doubters that the outcome is worth the investment and that, through a BID or some other mechanism, the job will be financed beyond the original two years.

In other words, the downtown manager should show all that it is worthwhile.

At issue:
Funding downtown manager
Bottom line:
Pilot should earn pemanence


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