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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crivitz Group Lists Area Strengths, Sets Goals

The Crivitz Citizens Group for Industrial Development has been seeking ways to attract new business and industry to the community. At a meeting on Monday, Aug. 28 they met to continue "SOAR" brainstorming efforts that started in June.

A "SOAR" analysis is defined as a "strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results" strategic planning tool that focuses an organization on its current strengths and vision of the future for developing its strategic goals.

After identifying several strengths, opportunities and goals they agreed to have a Crivitz advertising brochure prepared and distributed in the community, share the information with Crivitz Village Board when it starts doing strategic planning, and continue their discussions at the next meeting, which will be on Monday, Sept. 25.

Present for the Aug. 28 meeting were Village President John Deschane, State Rep. Jeff Mursau, Crivitz School Administrator Patrick Mans, Sally Witt, Gary Langer, Lana Goldberg, and Ann Hartnell, Executive Director of Marinette County Association for Business and Industry.

The acronym "SOAR" stands for a system by which strengths, opportunities, aspirations and responses to benefit the area's economic growth are identified and built upon.

At its meeting in June members present had done a "SOAR" analysis in which each member was given four cards, one for responses in each of the four categories. The results were analyzed at the Aug. 28 meeting, prioritized and put into related categories.

Deschane had prepared sheets on which responses in each of the categories were tallied. He asked each member to pick out their top three in each group, and points were assigned in order of listing after discussion.

Listed as strengths were location, which contributes to work/life balance; the village website; population in terms of minutes versus miles; natural resources including products, timber and water; transportation by rail, air (Crivitz and Menominee), water (shipping from the port in Marinette), and highway; land availability; MCABI, and the school system. School strengths listed include CESA 8 workforce development efforts, tech school on campus, and adaptability.

Resources and results identified include alumni who have left and come back, or who would like to come back; recognition of the "Crivitz" name; infrastructure, including utilities, broadband, water, sewer, 3-phase electric, and a landfill nearby; failed businesses that could be recreated; people including friendliness and strong work ethic; willingness of area municipalities to work together, and with existing organizations like CBA, CRA, MCABI and Bay Lakes Regional Planning; funding available through WEDC, Rural Development, CDBG grants and the TIF District, and location in terms of natural beauty and recreational opportunities like cross country skiing

Mentioned in goals were broadband expansion to rural areas, having a well educated work force with an NWTC campus in town working with the school district and willing to bring in necessary staff for specific training, expanding STEM education; extending three phase power along the highway, and expanding business to business support.

Aspirations (goals) included directing growth while maintaining what makes Crivitz great, eventually bringing in three to four businesses with 20 to 50 employees each working at competitive wages, studying future and current housing needs, doing a community recreation assessment to attract developers, having a desirable appearance, and developing a town square with central parking, cohesiveness of shops and ability to walk from shop to shop. There was talk of new recreational facilities like a performing arts center or gathering place, and hotels with amenities. Another proposed project was interviewing students as to why they stay in the area after graduation or leave.

Moving the railroad switch yard was a goal mentioned several times, but with little hope of success.

Deschane noted that rail accessibility is a big asset in terms of manufacturing. However, Hartnell said the CNN railroad wants six car loads a day to be involved with an industry.

Frustration with railroad switching times was evident. Mans said the school has been trying for years to get them to not shut down traffic by switching between three and four p.m.

Everyone saw expanding broadband access throughout the area as a major goal. Mans said service is fair right around the village, "but the farther west you go the worse it gets."

Hartnell said she plans to talk to the Marinette County Unit of Wisconsin Towns Association in September about plans to get together to improve broadband service throughout the county.

Mans said many prospective employees will not live in an area without Internet service, and the schools are handicapped if they cannot work with students who live outside the broadband service area.

Mursau noted residential facilities are now eligible for TIF District financing.

Langer noted no one had mentioned availability of health care as an asset. Deschane said with two high profile clinics and two dentists in the community it definitely is an asset, and Mans agreed that is a big plus for the school district when they negotiate rates with their insurance company.

Opportunities that made the top four were broadband, a well educated workforce, retaining or returning workers who currently drive to Green Bay and Marinette, and health care access.

Mans said if there were more jobs in Crivitz that would lead to family supporting employment, more graduates would stay here.

Witt felt the new graduates might want to leave for a few years, but then they would want to come back to raise their families. Deschane commented if they cannot do that, they come back to retire.

Deschane noted this group had started with an industry focus, but had now changed to business and industry. Langer suggested the village should explore joining New North on its own to get broader exposure to potential businesses and industries. He said many industries in Milwaukee are looking north and want to relocate to rural areas. He said in the city they can get employees, but cannot always retain qualified, talented employees.

Mans said the local school district would work with NWTC and businesses so graduates are ready to go to work as soon as they graduate. He said the school has 40 to 50 graduates each year and he knows many would like to stay if they could find decent jobs.

Hartnell said the village could join New North which is a northeast Wisconsin economic development group for as little as $250 annually, and benefit from that group's marketing efforts. "They do tend to ignore us up here, but the more of us who join, the more they hear our voices," she declared.

She said since Marinette County is no longer grouped with the Fox River Valley she gets almost no news of what is happening with Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Apparently the groupings are from east to west, while all commerce in this area goes north and south, and the economy here is more similar to that of the Valley than it is to counties to the west.

Deschane invited anyone with ideas to promote industrial or economic growth, "bring them in!" He said the League of Municipalities had just done a community survey and he will share results as soon as he gets them.

The sole resident in the audience suggested that they should look at what similar communities elsewhere are doing to promote their economic growth.

The next meeting is set for Monday, Sept. 25.


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