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It was a good year for development in Tosa

Businesses announced expansion, neighborhoods improved in 2011

Dec. 21, 2011

As 2011 comes nears its end, it's time to look back at some of the highlights of economic development in Wauwatosa during this year, and two professionals on the front lines of business and development in Tosa helped me take stock.

Wauwatosa's Economic Development Director, Paulette Enders, said many positive events took place during the year, including two large residential projects: The Enclave and Mt. Tosa. All told, Enders said, there are 200 new residential units under construction and more than 500 in the development stage.

She added that more than $50 million in economic growth took place in Wauwatosa in 2011, mostly because of the central location of the city and the ongoing successes of the Milwaukee County Research Park and groundbreaking of Innovation Park.

"Because of the great opportunities that exist in Wauwatosa and its strategic location in Southeast Wisconsin, several development projects are under way. There are also other exciting projects being proposed despite the ongoing slow national economic recovery," she said.

She went on to say in an email response, "Despite economic downturns regionally, nationally and globally, Wauwatosa continues to thrive. Commercial vacancy rates are some of the lowest in the region, and unlike many cities and counties throughout the United States, Wauwatosa has retained its Aaa bond rating due in part to its demonstrated local economic strength."

Some exciting news

Enders said news from companies like Bostik, which decided to consolidate its operations in the city, is evidence that Wauwatosa remains well positioned as an economic engine in Southeast Wisconsin. Bostik was recognized at the annual Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce All Member Meeting for its decision to remain in the region, retain and add jobs, and invest in Wauwatosa.

"Bostik's research and development division is a business sector Wauwatosa is continuing to promote, foster and grow through its existing Research Park and future Innovation Park," she said in her response.

Several amenities were improved during 2011, continuing to improve what makes Wauwatosa a great place to live, work and play.

"Thanks to the hard work of many dedicated volunteers and community leaders, Hoyt Park Pool opened its doors in 2011 after being closed for nearly a decade. Additionally, the city of Wauwatosa is constructing a children's play area at Hart Park - a component of the master plan adopted by the city - and a welcome addition to an already popular gathering place for entertainment, sports and special events. Wauwatosa has also been recognized by Walk Score, whose mission is to promote walkable neighborhoods, as the fourth most walkable community in Wisconsin," Enders said.

She also cited several upcoming neighborhood developments that will add to the city's living experience, including an Alterra Coffee at 68th and Wells streets, Rocket Baby bakery on North Avenue, and an expansion project at Highlands Café at 60th and Vliet streets - projects which she believes will further enhance Tosa's walkability and vitality.

Meg McKenna, executive director of the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce, said most businesses continue to plod along.

"I think we've all had a year of slow growth. Much has been positive, but it's been hard work," she said. "We look forward to the return of more robust growth in business."

Robert Warde is a freelance business writer living in Wauwatosa. He has been a journalist for more than 27 years and a business journalist for the past 16 years. Reach him at robert.warde@yahoo.com.

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