The Parts of A Multi-Part Project

 

There’s been talk in Whitewater about an out-of-town developer’s plan for a hotel, library, and a local clinic.

The easiest way to consider the project is to ask a simple question:

Is there any part of the project without which the entire effort would not go forward?

Identifying an indispensable part, if any, reveals the essence of the project and the priority among its elements.

Afterward, a follow-up:

Does any party to the project have a non-negotiable position about the proper location of the project?

The answers to these questions will offer the most accurate description of the proposal.

Reading and Reviewing

There are two books I’m eager to review here at FW: Katherine Cramer’s Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker (2016) and Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story (4.18.17).  Like many others, I’ve been awaiting Goldstein’s book for some time, knowing that significant works take time.

For both books, I’ll proceed with a chapter-by-chapter assessment. I’ve the luxury of taking my time, for two principal reasons: first, blogging allows a self-chosen pace; second and more significantly, both books are worthy of detailed reviews.

There is a third reason, too, and particular to Whitewater:  this city’s local policymakers have a position so weak that their particular maneuverings are of little value. For them, unfortunately, it’s the fate of a grinding attrition for the near future. These political few, and those who have been part of this small group over the last generation, will have little part in whatever successful short-term events Whitewater sees.

A sensible, productive person would stay as far away as possible.  This class is, with a few exceptions, composed of individually capable people who’ve collectively thrown away capability. See, Whitewater’s Major Public Institutions Produce a Net Loss (And Why It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way). A political critique of Whitewater is now less a matter of advocacy as it is a recollection and narration of cumulative political errors.

The better approach for the city is a true private charity and a true private industry, unconnected to political policy. See, An Oasis Strategy.

Of Whitewater’s local politics, what once seemed to me primarily a matter of advocacy grew to seem more like a diagnosis, and now seems like epidemiology.

There’s a history to be written about all of this, incorporating particular projects into a bigger work, but for now it’s a greater pleasure to consider what others have written.

I’ll start Wednesday, and continue chapter by chapter, taking time with it all.

Less is Often More

Whitewater’s Common Council had a several items of interest on its agenda for last night’s meeting (among them A Hotel, a Party Plan, and a Dog).

The hotel and the dog (a police canine) were dropped from the agenda, and the item about a party plan (to address larger-scale social events) was discussed only in part. There was discussion of a mailing, with the latest proposal being a revision of an earlier mailing; the best practice will be to wait and see what a final product (if any) looks like.

As for dropping items from the agenda, as long as the items aren’t emergency needs (and neither a dog nor a hotel fits that category), I’ll suggest that less is more. As a procedural and as a legal matter under our Open Meetings Law, Wis. Stats. §§ 19.81-19.98, it’s true that ordinarily the concern is adding items, not omitting them.)

On a hotel in particular, there’s no reason concern oneself too much with it, as for the near-term it’s always been a longshot.

There’s something amusing in this matter from the Banner, whose publisher has flacked countless ineffectual capital-spending programs for years, showing apparent concern over a tax-credit-chasing hotel project for the center of town that’s unlikely to break ground there. In the improbable event that this should be a later-in-life conversion to a more prudent outlook, one should welcome it.

‘The Closest Thing We Have to State TV’

In the clip above, Seth Meyers considers the relationship between Fox News and the Trump Administration, concluding that Fox News is ‘the closest thing we have to state TV,’ represents ‘sycophantic coverage,’ and that ‘instead of a Bible, Trump should have been sworn in on a TV Guide.’ (H/t to Raw Story for the pointer.)

Small towns across America are familiar with publications that are – in support and in effect – quasi-government publications. In the Whitewater area, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the Daily Union or Banner as offering anything other than sycophantic coverage. It’s fair to qualify this as nearly impossible, as ever so rarely one of these publications will stray from an insider’s line, for reasons of personal pique if not actual substance.

We’ve had years of coverage like this, weakening the quality of our politics and thinking, so much so that those in authority sometimes (but not always) seem like parodies of ill-preparation and weak analysis. Low quality of this kind is That Which Paved the Way, enabling a federal government led by the very worst among us.

A Hotel, a Party Plan, and a Dog

A hotel, a party plan, and a dog might seem like three unconnected things (and normally they are, unless one is describing a dog show, I suppose).

In Whitewater, however, they’re connected: as items on the same agenda tonight at Common Council, and more generally as tactical solutions to a systemic problem: Whitewater’s economy is stagnant, the community divided along class lines, and the concept of genuine community enforcement in town isn’t even nominally convincing.

Into these conditions come discussions about a hotel, a party plan, and a canine. The city will hear more about all three tonight, but the discussions will be less revealing of where the city’s going (as we’re past the point where most sudden moves are worth much) than they will be of the current level of municipal management, such as it is.

Wisconsin’s Spring General Election

A few remarks on local and statewide races from the Spring General Election:

1. In Whitewater, incumbents seldom lose (and indeed, seldom have challengers). Yesterday falls within the realm of the seldom: a challenger in Whitewater’s District 1 race easily defeated the incumbent (Carol McCormick over Patrick Wellnitz, 164-87).

Whitewater’s challenge is not merely that candidates rarely run against (let alone defeat) incumbents. Her challenge is that individual candidates, however talented some might be, have trouble making a difference in a city that’s facing high poverty and economic stagnation. See, along these lines, Whitewater’s Major Public Institutions Produce a Net Loss (And Why It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way): “although members of the government are certainly also sharp and capable individually, they often produce collectively a product that’s beneath their individual abilities or that of other competitive Americans.”

On the national level, a choice between productivity and mediocrity presents itself, also, as Jennifer Rubin describes ably in Trump vs. an America that works.

2.  Statewide, Tony Evers easily defeated Lowell Holtz in the race for state school superintendent. Evers was well-liked and respected and Annyssa Johnson lists Holtz’s many self-inflicted liabilities (“Holtz had been dogged by ethical questions throughout the race, including accusations of nepotism, campaigning on work time, and an alleged scheming to land a lucrative state job with a driver and authority to dismantle the state’s five largest school districts“).

That Which Paved the Way

Adam Khan, writing at @Khanoisseur, has an answer for why Trump was able to prevail, despite myriad political & personal failings. Khan’s answer explains part of Trump’s success (and on the national front, I think he’s chiefly right):

Locally, however, in places like Whitewater there never was much investigative journalism, and newspapers became incurious boosters of small-town notables long before the Great Recession.

There’s something sad about local groups that believe (or at least pretend with apparent conviction) that adopting Babbitt‘s boosterism is a ‘visionary’ development. It’s an imaginative result only if one looks ahead believes that grandiose claims, dodgy data, an anti-market outlook, and nativist policies could possibly represent a hopeful future.

More than a few town notables in places like Whitewater paved the way for Trumpism. They made this possible. See, along these lines, The National-Local Mix (Part 2). Those of us in an implacable resistance have much work hard work, and likely many hard losses, before we prevail in opposition.

When we do, Trump will go, and Trumpism with him. More than that, however: the causes of Trumpism in places like Whitewater will go, too.

About eighteen months ago, thinking only of these earlier causes, I wrote in reply to a prominent social & political figure in town, predicting that ‘not one of those practices will endure to this city’s next generation.’

Whether she believed this, I don’t know, and candidly it matters not at all what either of us believes.

The prediction will prove true nonetheless.

What an Invitation Says (and Doesn’t Say)

 

Over at the City of Whitewater’s website, there’s a notice about a public meeting at which candidates for a city job will available to the public. Although the notice is formally correct (to meet the requirements of Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law, Wis. Stats. §§ 19.81-19.98), as a community matter there’s something sad about it.

First, the notice (http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/images/stories/agendas/common_council/2017/ccagen_2017-0329_Special.pdf):

NOTICE

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The City of Whitewater will be hosting a reception for the candidates for the Finance and Administrative Services Director on March 29, 2017, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Whitewater Innovation Center, 1221 Innovation Dr., Whitewater, WI 53190.

It is highly likely that quorums of the following Committees may be present at the reception:

Whitewater Community Development Authority;
City of Whitewater Common Council;
Whitewater University Technology Park Board; and the
Whitewater Plan & Architectural Review Commission.

It is possible that members of and possibly a quorum of members of other governmental bodies of the municipality may be in attendance at the above-stated meeting to gather information over which they may have decision-making responsibility; no action will be taken by any governmental body at the above-stated meeting other than the governmental body specifically referred to above in this notice.

Anyone requiring special arrangements is asked to call the office of the City Manager/ City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Second, why it’s sad: there’s no mention of the applicants for the position, and no public information about them. For the City of Whitewater and the Banner, this probably makes sense, as they work on a those-who-need-to-know-basis, and for them the significant audience is their own small circle.

This is like receiving a wedding invitation where the names of the bride and groom are left blank:

Somebody requests the honor of your presence at the marriage of someone
to someone else on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Whitewater Innovation Center, 1221 Innovation Dr., Whitewater, WI 53190.

Reception to follow.

The municipal notice is a community notice only in the narrowest sense, revealing that the position isn’t a community matter in the eyes of local insiders – it’s (effectually) a quasi-private meeting. The municipal government meets the terms of the law, but nothing more.

It should be a caution to sensible candidates: insiders may or may not buck up a fellow employee in difficult times, but no one inside will have much resonance with the community outside. There are two principal options: either spend each waking moment pleasing that tiny inside circle, or adopt a view that transcends the circle, and stretches much farther.

Film: Tuesday, March 28th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Jackie

This Tuesday, March 28th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Jackie @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Jackie recounts the life of Jacqueline Kennedy following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as she fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s legacy.

Pablo Larraín directs the one hour, forty-minute film, starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig. Jackie received three Oscar nominations (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Natalie Portman,  Best Achievement in Costume Design, and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score). The movie carries an R rating from the MPAA.

One can find more information about Jackie at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

A Reminder on Dealmaking

David Frum, writing about Trump’s failure to advance health care legislation, observes the truth about Trump:


That’s right, and cannot be said enough: Trump’s a confidence man, and he preys on the unwary, desperate, or gullible.

There’s a local angle in all this: although Whitewater’s policymakers and town notables want to portray themselves as advancing sophisticated (often tech-oriented programs), their plans rest mostly on false claims and third-tier work hawked to an economically struggling community. They claim job gains without describing them in detail, they claim economic benefits without enumerating them in detail, and they hide costs and setbacks that would place in context any benefits they hazily claim.

The few, self-described ‘Whitewater Advocates’ who push these policies aren’t selling community betterment: they’re selling their own social advancement at the cost of the disproportionately large number of indigent and struggling residents in this city. And Like Trump, when they meet capable counter-parties, their scheming fares poorly.

They’ve had over the years, from their own perspective one supposes, public-relations success with dodgy proposal after dodgy proposal. I’d guess the high watermark for them was several years ago, around 2010-2012. They should have quit then, while the tide was still high. The water’s receding now, and one sees how much waste litters the shore.

How Foreign Powers Could Try to Buy Trump

Donald Trump is an unprecedentedly wealthy president, who owns or licenses his name to buildings, casinos, and luxury hotels around the world. An ethics watchdog group has already brought a lawsuit against him for violating the Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause,” which prohibits government officials from receiving gifts from foreign states. Trump has taken few steps to distance himself from his organization, and foreign governments could use the President’s business interests as bargaining chips to influence his policymaking. Atlantic writer Jeremy Venook has been monitoring the President’s growing list of conflicts of interests since November 2016, and breaks down some of the most alarming ones in this video.

There’s a local angle in all this: Whitewater is rife with possible conflicts of interest (although not of the same magnitude or kind as Trump’s, of course): from news sites that publishers claim have not simply advertisers but ‘sponsors’, dual roles as politicians and news people, and a general insider’s desire to boost well-positioned friends (even if the policy in question is, to use the technical term, a dog-crap policy).

Funnier still is the self-exonerating way that some try to avoid these conflict-of-interest problems (1) by insisting that they are immune from the psychological biases that would naturally beset billions of others on this planet or (2) by finding their way onto an ethics committee. (This latter way is not unique to Whitewater. After all, Saudia Arabia found her way onto the United Nations Human Rights Council.)

This is a way in which longstanding local mediocrity and the new national mediocrity present challenges in their respective venues. See, along these lines, The National-Local Mix (Part 2).

Preliminaries to a Discussion on Class

One finds a significant amount of information, in both lay publications and (of course) the careful studies on which they rely that working class Americans are faring poorly.

There are two broad aspects to this: (1) how working class Americans are faring, and (2) what this says about economic and fiscal policy at the federal, state, or local level.

A few recent accounts and studies come to mind (and these are only a few of a far larger number): New research identifies a ‘sea of despair’ among white, working-class Americans (Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century @ Brookings), The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: working-class whites (Poverty Reduction Programs Help Adults Lacking College Degrees the Most, @ Center on Budget and Policy Priorities), or Katherine J. Cramer’s Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker.

On the first aspect (how some are faring), evidence from any credible source, including of the left, is worth evaluating: reason compels that one address studies and their data dispassionately, analytically. In a place like Whitewater, or nearby towns, there’s much too much ‘can’t read this,’ ‘can’t read that,’ based on the idea that it’s too far left or too far right.

On the second aspect (economic or fiscal policy), ample evidence of hard times does nothing to excuse a retreat into nativism, bigotry, or the daily chumming of lies that Trump, for example, spills into the water to attract struggling Americans.

Nor does it excuse the third-tier boosterism that politicians and local publications like the Gazette, Daily Union, Register, or Banner use to hawk any project, at any public expense, on the theory that it just has to be done. The longer one considers economic & fiscal policy in a town like Whitewater, the more one comes to see that not one of these publications offers anything more than empty cheerleading. They might as well be working a long con on their communities, with their own self-promotion as a good part of the game.

There are obvious similarities between failed local strategies and national ones. SeeThe National-Local Mix (Part 2).

However difficult the times, there are useful works yet to be finished about how local notables push destructive projects (waste-to-energy), empty economic development plans (millions in Whitewater with mostly headlines to show for it), and how desperate communities fall victim to weak reasoning in the place of careful consideration.

All of this is a spur to work harder.

The Upcoming Spring Election in Whitewater

One, but only one, of Whitewater’s Common Council races is contested. Some readers have asked me, variously, if I would comment on the candidates in the contested race, and where one might find the candidate statements submitted to the local League of Women Voters chapter.

I’ll leave residents to consider the candidates (including the contested race between incumbent Patrick Wellnitz and challenger Carol McCormick in District 1) without comment.

For those who would like to see the statements that some candidates have submitted, they may be found at http://www.lwvwhitewater.org/elections.html.

It’s fair to say that I have conflicting views on the League of Women Voters: the national organization has done much good work, but the local chapter betrays some shopworn biases (probably without grasping that they’re biases at all).  The local chapter also has a skewed-old problem that leads to, and exacerbates, their declining influence. For a discussion of the local chapter’s unfounded assumptions, see On the Whitewater League of Women Voters Questionnaire (Spring 2017).

The best approach for any candidate will always be to prepare his or her own statement, apart from any organization, and have it at the ready for distribution to residents.

On Rumors

Whitewater is a small town, with a population under fifteen thousand, approximately half of whom are college students. One of the advantages of being far smaller than Los Angeles or Atlanta should be the ease with which municipal leaders and law enforcement can meet and talk to residents. A person of average health and energy could walk the town easily, talking with residents along the way.

How odd, then to hear some city’s officials bemoaning rumors about possible federal law enforcement actions. If there are rumors among residents, city officials have only themselves to blame: if they were closer to their own residents, and even partly knowledgeable about those residents’ day-to-day experiences, they’d have a better ability to manage these matters.

Ice cream socials at a senior citizen facility (honest to goodness – the softest audience on the planet) are not enough. Admittedly, officials burn very few calories driving to a retirement home, sitting & talking, but that energy savings is an underuse of a taxpayer-funded salary.

If it should be true that “the rumors have truly been disheartening and harmful,” then it’s time for officials to work harder – connecting through true community-based enforcement – to dispel what so disheartens and hurts. All the servile commission cronies in the world, and their conniving boosters, can’t do what publicly-paid officials should be doing each day.

After so very long, after over twenty-six years, one should have expected better results than this. But people choose variously well or poorly, and Whitewater has so many times chosen poorly, and consigned herself to a weak, short-sighted, addled leadership. She’ll stay stagnant, and so decline relatively, until she chooses another course.

In the meantime, these failings may yet prove a useful lesson to other communities, so that they might avoid the same mistakes.

On the Whitewater League of Women Voters Questionnaire (Spring 2017)

At its website, the Whitewater Area League of Women Voters has posted a questionnaire for the upcoming local election. For all the good work that the League does (and the national organization does admirable work in many communities), the questionnaire reveals an unsupported, narrow view of Whitewater’s local economy.

Consider the 7th question in the survey (http://www.lwvwhitewater.org/elections.html):

Q7. As University students move into available housing rentals in Whitewater, there is a chilling effect on single-family housing. What can be done to encourage more development of single-family homes and therefore an increase in that population?

A few remarks:

1. An assumption of negative effects. The question simply assumes a “chilling effect,” without even the slightest proof of one. (One can leave aside the misplaced use of chilling effect, normally a legal term applied to actions that stifle speech or lawful exercise of one’s rights.) If there should be a deterring effect in this case, can anyone at the Whitewater Area League quantify that effect? If not, then what makes this supposed effect more than any number of unfounded claims (e.g., four-leaf clovers, laetrile, Carrot Top as actually funny).

2. Whitewater’s economy. The questionnaire assumes, necessarily, the demand for rental housing makes single-family housing scarce. That’s most certainly not true of all college towns, many of which have large, well-cared-for single family residences. In those communities, single-family homes are desirable near a university (and so more of them are built). If there is no necessary connection, then the League has claimed one without evidence, and neglected other causes for the lack (in their minds) of single-family housing.

This is the key issue for Whitewater: When will policymakers stop blaming student housing for a lack of single-family housing, and start considering other causes for a (in their minds) a weak single-family housing market? (One could include among those other causes weak community relations – a lack of real engagement before enforcement)

3. Why only a negative effects? The questionnaire states effects in only one direction: negative, from student residents to non-student single-family home buyers. Even if one assumes some negative effects (and there’s no quantification of this), is there anyone who thinks that effects run only one way (that is, anyone outside of the League representative who drafted this questionnaire)? If so, those others have a paltry grasp of economic effects.

4. Why pick sides? An organization’s self-focused membership might assume that what they want is what (1) all others want or (2) what the community should have. These are market decisions among freely selling and purchasing adults, and those voluntary transactions prove that this community – in whole – wants and needs a robust student rental market.

5. Poor formation. The League’s seventh question isn’t even formulated correctly:  “As University students move into available housing rentals in Whitewater, there is a chilling effect on single-family housing” (my emphasis). No, a properly-formulated claim would not be about students moving into available housing rentals, it would be about single-family homes being converted into rentals.

6. Not a politician’s job. Why is it the task – as the League questionnaire assumes – that Whitewater’s common council should intervene in the housing market to advance an outcome that some (but not most actual buyers & sellers) prefer?

If government feels the need to act, it would do better to improve community-based enforcement, make basic municipal repairs, or care for the neediest members of the community: all these projects would be better than trying to rig the local housing market.

The most unfortunate aspect of the League’s question is that, for too many among this town’s policymakers, the Question 7 actually seems reasonable, indeed, obvious.

It’s nothing of the kind.

Film: Tuesday, March 14th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Manchester by the Sea

This Tuesday, March 14th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Manchester by the Sea @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Manchester by the Sea is the story of an uncle who is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

The 2016 film won two Academy Awards (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role to
Casey Affleck and Best Original Screenplay to Kenneth Lonergan). Lonergan also directs the two hour, seventeen-minute film, starring Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Kyle Chandler. The movie carries a rating of R from the MPAA.

One can find more information about Manchester by the Sea at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Far Less Than 10.7%

Whitewater’s residents may have recently read (3.7.17) another City of Whitewater press release from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) – this time concerning more public spending on selected businesses.  (For remarks on a prior release, please see The Simplest Condition for a ‘Shovel-Ready’ Site is an Empty Lot.)

There are few better ways to argue against WEDC’s approach than by publishing press releases in full from that organization and its boosters.  (I have done so again with the latest release, at the bottom of this post.)

1. A tiny fraction of the award. On its face, there is something sadly desperate in saying Whitewater received only 10.7% of something: of the $700,000 awarded, 89.3% went elsewhere.

2. Tens of millions in public money has poured into Whitewater (state money, federal money, adding into the mix municipal bond debt) over the last decade. Even excluding the vast public sums supporting our local campus, this $75,000 is small compared to prior public spending in the city. If it’s 10.7% of the current totals, it’s far less than 1% of all that’s already come Whitewater’s way.

3. Alternative uses. These public funds are meant to be spurs to business development, but far greater sums have produced only paltry results – just about any allocation would be better than still more of the same.

4. ‘Technology-based, early stage companies.’ All of this is meant to awe and impress, but a level-headed person should be neither awed nor impressed. Public policy is more than a manufactured, unrealistic sense of astonishment.

Butterflies are amazing (truly); public allocations are practical decisions among many alternatives.

The best opportunity for a critic of these spending programs would be for the municipal government to put the full releases on giant billboards around the city. The more one hears of this, the less realistic it is.

Admittedly, we’d not be any richer for a billboard campaign…unless becoming an example of an unsound municipal economic policy somehow, itself, proved lucrative.

WEDC press release follows:

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Press Release: Organizations in Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Whitewater to match state’s investment in technology-based early-stage companies

MADISON, WI. March 7, 2017 – Three economic development organizations have been awarded a total of $700,000 in matching grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to be used to provide seed funding for technology-based startups and early-stage companies.

The Milwaukee Development Corporation has received a $500,000 grant under WEDC’s Capital Catalyst Program for the creation of a $1 million seed fund to support companies in advanced manufacturing and other technology sectors. The fund will target seed-stage ventures, including graduates of local accelerator programs such as The BREW, WERCBench Labs, FaBCAP and Gener8tor to provide additional capital for activities leading to investment readiness or revenue generation.

The fund also aims to support growth-focused projects of existing tech companies, as well as other eligible seed-stage businesses with technologies outside the scope of existing area accelerators. The Milwaukee Development Corporation is the operating entity of the Milwaukee 7 economic development organization, which in January received a $60,000 Entrepreneurship Support Grant from WEDC to support its efforts to increase collaboration and develop common strategies to optimize Milwaukee’s entrepreneurship climate.

“Finding and filling gaps in funding for these growing companies – especially those in our most promising cluster industries – is critical to the success of individual businesses and the entire Milwaukee 7 Region,” said Pat O’Brien, Milwaukee 7 executive director. “We are grateful to WEDC for recognizing this need and providing a needed boost to these efforts.”

The Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation has been awarded a $125,000 Capital Catalyst grant to fund a $250,000 program that will provide seed capital to local technology-based businesses likely to scale and grow to benefit the area workforce and economy. The seed fund will focus on sectors including aviation/aerospace, advanced manufacturing, information systems, agriculture/food processing and medical devices.

“This fund is the first of its kind in Winnebago County, the I-41 Corridor and northeastern Wisconsin,” said Jason White, CEO of the Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation. “Greater Oshkosh’s economic development success is predicated on helping our existing businesses grow and showing our entrepreneurs that they are well-supported here in the Fox Valley.”

The Whitewater Community Development Authority has received a $75,000 grant for a seed fund that will provide a diversified portfolio of micro-investments and grants aimed at increasing the number of startups in the city and supporting emerging growth companies.

This marks that the fourth year that WEDC has awarded Capital Catalyst grants to the organization, which has provided capital to 21 technology-based companies to date. Those businesses have successfully raised $4.9 million in additional capital, have achieved over $2.4 million in revenue and employ more than 100 workers.

“I’d like to thank WEDC for this additional investment, which will help ensure that Whitewater continues to be a hotbed of entrepreneurial spirit,” said Jeff Knight, chairman of the Whitewater Community Development Authority. “The many startups that this program has already assisted is truly amazing. We’ve supported many new innovative businesses that would not have had a chance to get started without this very timely help.”

“These three organizations are playing a critical role in facilitating the development of high-growth business ventures in their communities,” said Aaron Hagar, WEDC’s vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. “The Capital Catalyst Program has a proven track record of results, and we’re looking forward to continued success as we collaborate with these organizations to support next-generation companies.”

Since its inception in 2012, the Capital Catalyst Program has helped organizations and communities provide $3.5 million in seed funding to more than 100 businesses statewide that employ nearly 500 full-time workers. Those companies have generated $127 million in additional investment and revenue.

The program provides matching grants to seed funds managed by local communities or other organizations dedicated to stimulating entrepreneurship. These funds provide grants, loans and/or investments in startups or early-stage, innovative small businesses that operate in their region. Loan repayments and returns on investment stay within the fund to assist additional startups and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.

The Capital Catalyst Program is one component of WEDC’s suite of entrepreneurship resources, which includes support for startup accelerators, investor tax credits and technology loans. In addition, WEDC supports and engages an existing statewide network of partners that offers business training, mentorship and financing to aspiring entrepreneurs.

###
About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Visit www.inwisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.

Via http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/residents/recent-news/3270-wedc-awards-700-000-in-grants-to-support-local-efforts-to-provide-seed-funding-for-startups.

The Simplest Condition for a ‘Shovel-Ready’ Site is an Empty Lot

Whitewater’s residents may have recently read (just yesterday) a City of Whitewater press release about a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) designation for the city’s thirty-five empty acres of tech park land.

I’ve reproduced the release in full at the bottom of this post. A few key points:

1. The simplest condition for a “shovel ready” site is a vacant lot. Whitewater has (at least) thirty-five acres of vacant lot space. The city doesn’t need a ‘certified in Wisconsin’ designation to meet that condition; she only needs lots of empty space.

2. Millions upon millions of state money for businesses in this city, over so many years, and still here we are with another I-feel-it-this-time program.

3. The announcement is old news. The WEDC announced this program on December 15th, and a story about it ran in a local paper on December 16th. If this news were really so important, the municipal government wouldn’t have waited 75 days from the WEDC announcement date. (One should be fair: conservatively, it’s only been 74 days from the newspaper story.)

4. Now that the city’s raised the subject, how has Whitewater performed with the many grants and loans she’s already distributed, all these many years? Before actual performance, has the city been in compliance with even the weak standards the state has imposed on these programs?

There must be some way to determine that: what’s a five-letter word for an official inspection of an individual’s or organization’s accounts?

(If Whitewater ever came across something like that, surely they’d let the community know in full, promptly, as these are publicly-paid officials, extending publicly-funded grants and loans, and they’ve a publicly-fund funded website on which they could post that information.)

5. Where are those other “elite” locations the City of Whitewater press release mentions? Here they are: Beaver Dam, Beloit, Chippewa Falls, DeForest, Fitchburg, Green Bay, Howard, Janesville, Menomonie, Prescott, Stevens Point, Verona, West Bend, Westport and Wisconsin Rapids.

All black-tie locations, I’m sure.

6. Why is it so hard to speak in simple language (without describing everything in grandiose terms)? Whitewater has a high school and a university – is there no one in all the city who can teach officials to speak or write plainly?

City of Whitewater press release follows:

A Whitewater Site Joins the Elite List of Certified in Wisconsin Locations

Whitewater, Wis. February 28th, 2017 – The Whitewater University Technology Park joins 15 other locations statewide as a Certified in Wisconsin® site, allowing businesses and developers to have many questions answered and possible delays prevented prior to purchasing land for their growing companies.

The Certified in Wisconsin Program, offered in partnership by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and Deloitte Consulting was created in 2012 in hopes to make the process easier in purchasing industrial “shovel ready” properties, 20 acres or larger in the state of Wisconsin. It has since seen 17 development projects completed or underway on 10 of the 16 sites, expecting to create more than 1,600 jobs and generate more than $315 million in capital investment when completed.

A site classified as Certified answers a wide range of concerns such as utility and infrastructure capacity, zoning property rights, environmental and geological factors, transportation access, and that the site is ready for industrial development. This information is already compiled and confirmed, allowing the decision process to be easier and less stressful for those in the market to build on a timeline.

The 35-acre site in Whitewater is located less than one mile from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The new park will help to cultivate successful businesses and research by collaborating closely with UW-Whitewater and the City, serving as a foundation for a diversified and robust regional economy.

Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch and UW-W Chancellor Beverly Kopper have both spoken on behalf of the new site and discussed the positive opportunities that a partnership may burgeon between the university and the newly certified Whitewater University Technology Park.

“I know that property managers searching for industrial land want to minimize their risks,” says Whitewater Community Development Authority Chairman, Jeffery Knight. “They can be assured that when they look at Whitewater there is certainty, and what they get is the best the state has to offer”.

Whitewater will also have an ad in the Site Selection Magazine with details about the site and be included in the state database which allows site selectors to search for desired sites that meet their criteria in a fast and simple fashion.

To learn more about the Whitewater University Technology Park and other “shovel-ready” Wisconsin destinations, visit www.inwisconsin.com.

Via http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/residents/recent-news/3265-a-whitewater-site-joins-the-elite-list-of-certified-in-wisconsin-locations.

Whitewater High School, Monday Morning, 2.27.17

Update, 12:25 PM: Two suspicious packages were located and analyzed and were subsequently determined to be non-threatening. The interior of the buildings have also been search for any suspicious items. No additional suspicious items have been located in or around the buildings. 

Students and families will be notified via Infinite Campus once the building has been re-opened. Classes will resume on Tuesday, February 28th.” Via http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/residents/recent-news/3262-suspicious-package-found-at-whitewater-high-school.

Original post: 

There’s news about a Whitewater school this morning – Whitewater High School was evacuated this morning because of a suspicious object. For an account from Channel 3000 WISC-TV, see Whitewater High School evacuated because of suspicious package:

WHITEWATER, Wis. – A suspicious package found outside Whitewater High School prompted the evacuation of the school Monday morning.

A release from the school district said the package was found at 7:55 a.m.

The school was put on lockdown and students were moved to the school’s auditorium before they were moved to Young Auditorium on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus.

The Whitewater Aquatic Center was also evacuated and nearby residents were notified.

The Kenosha Bomb Squad was called to the scene.

Students can be picked up at Young Auditorium and vehicles can be picked up after the site has been cleared.

Any residents looking for a place to stay can go to the municipal building community room or the Irving Young Library.

Film: Tuesday, February 28th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Queen of Katwe

This Tuesday, February 28th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Queen of Katwe @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Queen of Katwe is a 2016 biographical drama about Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl who sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

The film is directed by Mira Nair, and stars Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, and Lupita Nyong’o. The movie has a run time of two hours, four minutes and carries a rating of PG from the MPAA.

One can find more information about Queen of Katwe at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.