The 2009 Be Bold study — a collaborative effort involving the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA), Wisconsin Counties Association, Competitive Wisconsin, Inc. and the Wisconsin Economic Development Institute (WEDI) — had a number of primary objectives to build upon Wisconsin’s strong economic foundation.
One of these objectives was a recommendation to improve existing economic development structures and strategies to stimulate growth statewide. An outgrowth of this was the Wisconsin Certified Sites Program (WCSP).
The maxim, “Time and tide wait for no one,” has special meaning for enterprises looking to start new or expand operations when opportunity presents itself. When a business must navigate a morass of regulation, rules and red tape before moving the first shovel full of dirt, precious time and resources and potential profits are lost.
It does not matter if the economy is booming or in a state described as sluggish at best. When companies make the decision to relocate, to start a new business or to expand an existing business, they want to be able to act immediately. With project plans formulated, revisions made, delays encountered and the final “go ahead” given, the company needs to begin the project and have it successfully completed. At that point, the important task of producing a product and turning a profit can begin.
Be Bold identified three gap areas that have been addressed by WCSP. These are the need for quick turnaround, quick approval and reduced risk. This is because the “heavy lifting” portion of site development is in place on the front end.
The certified site has high-quality water, electrical and natural gas utilities infrastructure already in place and easily accessible. Sites are zoned and assured to be free of obstructions that are impediments to speedy development, such as archeological/historic site restrictions or endangered species issues.
All certified sites are not located on or contiguous to a flood plain or affected by wetlands. The permitting process on certified sites is expedited because the painstaking part of the development process has already occurred.
WCSP delivers benefits on a variety of levels. Communities and developers have a development ready site to attract major projects. The state is on board as a partner marketing the certified sites, which increases Wisconsin’s competitiveness in relation to other states seeking to draw the same major projects.
Local stakeholders and community leaders are involved in the site selection process. Since globally-recognized site selection best practices are followed, all involved achieve credibility.
WEDC creates a unique landing page for each certified site that includes links to a comprehensive list of all site-related documentation. These can be accessed at www.LocateInWisconsin.com
The Chippewa Valley is well represented within the Wisconsin Certified Site Program. The first area site is a 132-acre two-site parcel located in Menomonie’s industrial park and perfectly suited for industrial development. The second is the mixed-use Lake Wissota Business Park in Chippewa Falls. Both sites offer close proximity to major arterial highway systems and a well-educated and trained workforce.
For more information on WEDC’s certified sites program, you may contact Graham Callis at 608-210-6837 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the Menomonie site, please contact Lowell Prange at 715-232-2187 or email@example.com
Eric Turner is executive director of the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation in Menomonie.