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New official aims to boost Tosa's marketability

Enders had successes while in Sheboygan

July 14, 2010

Looking at Paulette Enders' vacation photos, people will see shots of bicycle racks, pedestrian crossings, gateways into cities and interesting building facades. They may also hear stories from Enders about the interesting atmosphere and tasty cuisine found in local restaurants.

When Wauwatosa's new economic development director visits new places, she tends to mix work and play.

"As I travel and get out there, I get ideas for development that could be used back home," she said.

That means the inspiration Enders finds in other cities, states or possibly countries could have an impact on what Tosans eventually see while driving on Mayfair Road or walking along North Avenue.

Hitting the ground running

Enders took the helm of the city's economic development efforts less than three weeks ago. But she believes she already has a good start because she grew up on Milwaukee's south side and had family in Wauwatosa. She has often made the drive to Mayfair Mall to shop and has eaten at local restaurants with her daughter, who lives within blocks of the Tosa border.

She spent the last eight years overseeing planning, development, engineering and tourism for the city of Sheboygan.

In many ways, the two cities are similar, Enders said. They are physically about the same size and Sheboygan's population is larger by only a few thousand people. They both are nearly entirely built up, which means any development really comes in the form of redevelopment.

Of course, there are some differences, too. Wauwatosa is an inner-ring suburb of the state's largest city. Tosa also boasts a major mall, children's and trauma/research hospitals and lots of county-owned land.

Marketing the city a key

One of her immediate projects will be to create marketing materials so businesses and developers connect Wauwatosa with those facilities. When friends and family read about her new position, they were surprised to read the name Wauwatosa. They thought all those institutions and businesses were in Milwaukee, she said.

"It's such a wonderful community that you want it to have its own identity," Enders said.

Enders is spending some of her time reading plans that are meant to guide development citywide as well as in specific districts like the Village and North Avenue. She also wants to create a list of available properties in the city, and is contemplating creating a retention committee that would focus on keeping existing businesses happy.

It's those type of steps that are needed for Wauwatosa to attract and retain businesses - particularly in a recession.

"Given the economy, everyone has to get more aggressive, and Wauwatosa has an opportunity to get ready as the economy turns around," Enders said.

In Sheboygan, Enders worked with the state to get tax credits for Acuity, which not only kept the insurance company from moving to Illinois, but led it to double the size of its facility. Similarly, she helped coffee filter manufacturer Rockline Industries get economic stimulus dollars so its corporate offices would stay in Wisconsin.

Getting to know you

City Administrator James Archambo said his first direction to Enders was to "get out and start making contacts with area business leaders."

The orders were more for emphasis because immediate roles of the position are to create better relationships between the city and business community and to act as a point person for anyone with development-related questions.

Longer term, the city's economic development programs and processes will undergo evaluation. That may mean meeting with focus groups to see how the city can better serve the business community, and determining how the local business and job markets have changed in recent years.

Archambo is quick to point out that Wauwatosa has already seen tremendous accomplishments in bringing and retaining development, but that with the struggling economy, competition regionally and with some very complex redevelopment sites, the city needs to look for new ways to spur economic activity.

"We're trying to build on what we've done in the past," he said.

Wauwatosa is in a far better position than many other cities around the state thanks to its broad mix of job sectors, Enders said. The good schools, friendly neighborhoods and variety of recreational and retail offerings not only help bring qualified workers to the city but will help attract businesses looking to locate in southeastern Wisconsin.

"It makes economic development and selling the community so much easier," she said.

PROFILE

Name: Paulette Enders

Position: economic development director for Wauwatosa

Age: 52

Family: married to husband John and adult daughter Kelly

Education: bachelor's degree in business from Concordia College

Experience: 25 years in government; 16 of those as economic development director

Salary: $105,000

Successful past project: turning a 42-acre brownfield and office building between Lake Michigan and the Sheboygan River in the site of Blue Harbor Resort, condominiums and other retail businesses

Hobbies: bicycling, walking

At a Glance

WHAT: Wauwatosa West Suburban Chamber of Commerce will hold a meet-and-greet with Paulette Enders

WHERE: Cranky Al's, 6901 W. North Ave.

WHEN: 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesday

CONTACT: (414) 453-2330 or info@tosachamber.org

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