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Strong Small Businesses Make Communities Better

Local business improvement district leaders say a thriving small business climate makes the whole community stronger, but it takes support from residents, the government and business owners to make things work.

Thriving businesses are one-third of a triumvirate of a vibrant community.

“You need good schools, a quality housing stock and a solid commercial area,” said Tim Ryan, president of Shorewood’s Business Improvement District.  Ryan is invested in all three. He and his family live in Shorewood, his daughter goes to school in Shorewood and he is the president and owner of Harleys: The Store for Men on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood.

Small businesses line the commercial corridor that runs east and west along Capital Drive and north and south along Oakland Avenue, Ryan said.

“Unlike many small communities, our business district is spread out on two thoroughfares.”

Small businesses, like Harleys, are invested in a community the way national chains are not. They usually have a single location, ownership is very hands-on and customer service is very high. Small businesses also have a reciprocal relationship with the community in which they do business. They support small local events, like gallery nights or live music events. In turn the community supports small local business with foot traffic to the retail sites. Thriving small businesses reduce the tax burden for homeowners and buoys home values.

Ryan said it is more than local residents supporting the local economy. “It’s driving traffic to Shorewood allowing us to showcase our community as a place to live, work and shop.”

Jim Plaisted, the executive director of Wauwatosa BID, agreed. Those who know the village can find the shops, boutiques and restaurants with their eyes closed. But in order to draw people from the metropolitan area, better street signage and easy-to-find parking are needed. Wauwatosa has three main commercial areas; Plaisted’s BID area is specific to the Village of Wauwatosa.

“Having two angled parking spots on Harwood is fine if you only want to serve a customer or two,” he said.

The Village of Wauwatosa has a wonderful diversity of stores in its 126 business addresses, Plaisted said. “Our commercial district has great bones, but there are challenges.” The village has precious little quality space and developable land. “There are properties that are underdeveloped. We want mixed-use sites. We want to use space as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

Ryan said space is also a challenge in Shorewood. “Because our commercial corridor is limited, there is limited space, but we are always seeing interest. Shorewood’s BID works closely with the Community Development Authority in the city. “Our partnership with them is the engine that drives a healthy commercial environment.”

Both Ryan and Plaisted have seen businesses fail. “There is a three to five year window,” Ryan said. “If you last three years, you’ve got a good chance to succeed; if you last five years, you’ll probably make it.” Ryan should know -- Harleys has been in business since 1948.

“If you’re doing the right things, you’ll be in business a long time,” Plaisted said. “Longevity of success in business means not a lot of vacancies for new businesses coming in, but isn’t longevity of success a good thing?”

Absolutelyfabulous November 12, 2012 at 03:11 PM
"You need good schools, a quality housing stock and a solid commercial area,” said Tim Ryan, president of Shorewood’s Business Improvement District. Ryan is invested in all three. He and his family live in Shorewood, his daughter goes to school in Shorewood and he is the president and owner of Harleys: The Store for Men on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood." Tim- You forgot to mention having "friends" in power/Village Trustees/CDA who GAVE you $183,300.00 so you could move your business 3 blocks, pay for all renovations as well as cover your rent for a period of time. Did the residents of Shorewood ever have any say in this little gift or even made aware of it until after the fact? Then again, being president of the Shorewood Business Improvement District doesn't hurt either. BTW..How's the following rationale for giving you the monies working out and how are those property assessments in the immediate area trending? "CDA Chairman Pete Petrie said Harleys' presence on the village's south end of Oakland Avenue could help bolster the region with increased property values over time." http://www.shorewoodnow.com/news/42647912.html Though, Mama Mia's across the street is now closed/vacant. EVEN Better- Read the Next Post..Am I missing something?
Absolutelyfabulous November 12, 2012 at 03:40 PM
PART 2 The building that Harley's is in sold in 2006 for $3,485,000, then went under renovations that cost ~$1,200,000.00 In 2010 the price had dropped to $2,800,000 and stayed that way for 2011. The property shows that it was "last sold" on 6/15/2012 for $1,500,000.00 http://rmgis.ruekert-mielke.com/shorewood/AssessmentDetails.asp 3575 N Oakland is the address. So, the Village of Shorewood kicks in almost $200,000 for Harley's alone + an additional $198,000 for the building's owner for their $1.2 million renovation and the building is now sold for $1,500,000. Now, there could be a couple of different scenarios ie a partial or 1/2 interest of the building was sold or who knows.. MY QUESTION is will this "sale price" result in a lower assessment of this property and thus lower taxes paid for a property that has received close to $400,000 in free monies from the Village of Shorewood? BTW..Here are the articles or partial that mention the building's remodel cost and the amount that the village kicked in, in addition to Harley's. http://awipekyhila.blogspot.com/2012/09/menswear-store-harleys-moving-to.html http://milwaukee-journal-sentinel.vlex.com/vid/shorewood-oks-grant-oakland-upgraded-74432154 __________________ So, Pete Petrie and the rationale for pumping so much money into this property ie increased property values lead to more taxes doesn't seem to even be happening for the property itself. What am I missing?
Richard Head November 12, 2012 at 06:13 PM
In the City of Racine - lots of merchants simply choose to NOT pay their property taxes - I know this as I have checked records on the County Of Racine Delinquent Taxpayer list. One of the most egregious, Main Marin and Ski, hasn't paid since 2008 and currently owes $95,468.86. Parcel # 276 000002498000. One of MANY. In addition, there are many TID's in Racine - the 17th. has just been approved, and that removes these businesses from paying their fair share of taxes for RUSD, Gateway, the County, and effectively shifts an increased tax burden of financing schools to homeowners. Here in Racine all sorts of incentives, paid for by homeowners, are available to small businesses. It gives an unfair advantage to those who qualify - and thus small businesses who don't play ball with the politicians or are part of a TID can't compete. Fascism, a partnership of government with private business owners, is alive and well in Wisconsin.
David Tatarowicz November 13, 2012 at 11:09 PM
@Ab Fab You make some very good points and more importantly ask some very good questions. I noted that Ryan said " thriving small businesses reduce the tax burden for homeowners and buoys home values." which is just not true. Property tax rates are the same for commercial property as it is for residential property. In Wisconsin, unlike some other states, the local communities get no share of the sales taxes that are generated by the businesses in that community.

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