November 2017 Session Recap: Economic Development

This post was written by “The Solid Six,” made up of LDA 2017-18 participants Tyler Mosley, Johnson Bank; Rachel Andres, Prent; Jason Klingaman, City of Janesville; Colleen Koerth, Blackhawk Technical College; Tracy Schroeder, Janesville Boys & Girls Club; and Cori Olson, Stateline Boys & Girls Club

The Leadership Development Academy (LDA) had a wonderful meeting in November hosted at Blain’s Supply Corporate Headquarters in Janesville. Jane Blain Gilbertson opened up the day with a welcome and an inspiring message on leadership. She spoke about the growth that they are seeing in their business, and how they try to attract new customers as well as talented associates.

We had a fantastic tour of Blain’s Supply’s office space as well as the distribution center. If you didn’t watch where you were going it would be very easy to get hit by one of the dozens of forklifts transporting goods to semi-trailers.

Economic Development Bus Tour

After leaving Blain’s we headed on an economic development bus tour of Janesville and Milton hosted by our partners, James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, John Beckord, Forward Janesville and Al Hulick, City Administrator at Milton.

We went past the former General Motors plant where James spoke about the possibilities for the over 4 million square feet property. We visited downtown Janesville and spoke about the ARISE project that is under way to make downtown Janesville a much more attractive area.

There just happened to be a little alley behind Dube’s Jewelry that this group (The Solid Six) is going to be renovating for our year-end project. Make sure to look out for ways to get involved in this project as well as making downtown Janesville an attractive destination again!

On our way to Milton we got to learn about TIF districts from Al Hulick. He spoke to the effectiveness of this program and why they are so important for economic development. We drove by several spaces in Milton where businesses are expanding and creating all sorts of things.

Near the end of the tour we made a stop at Grainger where we had another wonderful tour. This facility is gigantic and to think that the whole business was started to sell chemistry sets is quite amazing! All in all we can agree that industry is booming in Rock County!

Economic Development Panel & Case Study

The afternoon was filled with a lesson on economic development facilitated by James Otterstein and John Beckord. The group was fortunate to hear about all of the behind the scenes work that happens with economic development. The message was loud and clear that economic development partners closely with their community, education and workforce development partners.

The final project for the day was each group had an opportunity to break off and work on an economic development case study. The study included resources that would be available to an economic development team who was trying to bring a new manufacturing facility to Rock County.

We had to pick a piece of property as well as sell the key decision makers for the new business on the fact that Rock County was where they need to be. And let me tell you, there are so many reasons why this is the case.

Throughout the day we were continuously reminded that Rock County is positioned to continue to bring in new businesses and not only grow in size, but to become diverse in the types of careers available.

Thank you to all of our partners for making the day informative, challenging and fun!