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Tosa being billed as Innovation Parkway

June 8, 2011

In Wauwatosa, all major roads lead to a parkway.

That revelation came while mapping out areas ready for development projects, Mayor Jill Didier said. The Menomonee, Underwood and Honey Creek parkways cover a significant portion of Wauwatosa.

As a result, the city is "branding our economic development marketing efforts as Innovation Parkway," she said.

Wauwatosa is looking for development projects in a down economy and competitive greater Milwaukee market so city officials held a gathering June 1 to roll out the marketing campaign to more than 130 people, many of whom work in construction, finance and development-related fields.

"Now we're looking at how do we make a buzz around Wauwatosa," the mayor said.

Officials also are using the slogan "great opportunities at a great location" to reflect the city's central location on the state's busiest interchange.

The gathering was several years in the making, as the city hired consultants to make recommendations about how to improve the economic development process. Since then, Economic Development Director Paulette Enders has been hired, and the Common Council authorized formation of a Community Development Authority.

"We're streamlining economic development," Didier said. "We have everything in place to help champion your project through."

The mayor has yet to make appointments to the CDA - she says they will be coming soon - but when the body is formed it will have state-approved authority to negotiate privately about developments involving public lands and public funds, which can be an attractive situation for businesses considering moving to or locating within the city.

The idea is to reduce the number of hurdles developers have to jump over as they try to bring a project to fruition. A CDA typically includes members with develop expertise who can provide oversight on complex projects.

"We want to create an environment to bring the private and public sectors together so we can put together some of the most impressive development packages around," said Bob Simi, chairman of the city's Economic Development Advisory Committee.

Wauwatosa has an educated population to pull employees from, a pre-eminent medical facility to provide quality healthcare to people who move here and business parks to accommodate site needs.

A testament to Wauwatosa as a prime business location is the fact that economic development hasn't stopped during an economic downturn, Didier said. For example, The Enclave apartment complex in the State Street District has broken ground, a mixed-use development starting with retail is in the works for the Burleigh Triangle and Wal-Mart is moving its new grocery store concept into the former Jewel-Osco on Capitol Drive.

AT A GLANCE

New marketing materials pitch Wauwatosa for economic development based on:

Research and development groups could build off the advance manufacturing base.

Destination retail and office development in the Mayfair Road corridor.

Young professionals and knowledgeable workers want to live in Tosa.

Concentration of high-skill jobs, from medical research to IT to advanced manufacturing.

Strong schools, a children's hospital and recreation attractive to workers with families.

Collaborations and higher education opportunities with the Medical, Wisconsin Lutheran and Mount Mary colleges, and the planned University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee engineering graduate school and center for industrial innovation.

Core of medical research and development, education and patient care innovation.

Smaller-scale redevelopment options in established business districts such as the Village and East Tosa.

Multifamily housing opportunities could serve large work force with good incomes.

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