City needs two economic development posts

Nov. 14, 2009

Public Forum:

As the Employee Relations Committee and eventually the Common Council deliberates the new economic development manager/director position, I would like to continue to ask for the business specialist position to be added as well. Even if it starts as a part-time position for a year or two and evolves to full time, I believe this position is imperative to the life and vibrancy of Wauwatosa's business community.

Over half of the businesses in Wauwatosa are small businesses, and the new economic development manager/director will be focused on large opportunities this city needs to serve the other half of its business sector. Large-scale opportunities take a long time to evolve and require grand gestures. Small business is faster and more responsive. I am very concerned when I see small businesses struggle to get started as they wade through all the city codes, commissions and committees. I am extremely concerned when I hear businesses state after the fact, "I didn't know that the city had facade grants and business loan programs," or it take months or even entire years to start after their initial inception and proposed start dates. This is not a slam against Community Development, it is the reality of an understaffed department that can't focus on helping promote small business while at the same time issuing permits and setting restrictions.

Wauwatosa needs to be proactive in these economic times more than ever. We all need to support small business start-ups as well as existing business. I believe the best way to do that is to staff Economic Development with two positions immediately not only for the vibrancy of our business community but to build our tax base as well. Business districts and neighborhoods go hand in hand to create balance and vibrancy in our community. Please support that vitality.

Linda Z. Nikcevich



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