Kohl's HQ bid was not a success, but showed new level of city-county cooperation
While running for Milwaukee County executive in 2011, Chris Abele said that as part of his jobs platform, he would "remove roadblocks to development.”
We asked Deputy Chief of Staff John Zapfel what Abele had done toward meeting this promise.
Zapfel said Abele has taken steps such as reorganizing the county economic development department, creating space at the city economic development office for county personnel and having county staff meet with businesses and municipalities.
"One of the most persistent roadblocks to development in the past has been a less than ideal relationship with the (City of Milwaukee) and an insufficiently aggressive approach to sharing our tools for development to put together more attractive packages," Zapfel said in an email. He said economic development staff are "proactively meeting with employers and local governments to identify their needs and work to remove roadblocks to development."
A key area of development is county-owned land in the Park East area of downtown Milwaukee. The failure of a city-county effort to persuade Kohl's Corp. to move from suburban Milwaukee to the Park East was a major disappointment in February 2012. However, a real estate investor and broker said the city-county cooperation amounts to "a quantum step forward from the dormant situation that existed for years before this."
Abele doesn't cite a lengthy list of roadblocks to development that he removed. But his promise didn't cite a number and he has removed some impediments. We rate this a Promise Kept.