After you published my guest commentary on the state of downtown Manitowoc and the lakefront, an article appeared in the Jan. 19-20, News-Sun, about the efforts of the city of Antioch, Ill., to attract new businesses. Panera Bread, estimated to generate up to $2 million in annual sales, expressed an interest in coming to Antioch if the city would assist it financially in making the move.
The village administrator noted that an increasing number of municipalities are offering incentives, such as sales tax rebates, to encourage development. One Antioch village trustee was quoted as stating that formulating an incentive plan needs to be a priority and that "our neighbors are doing it and so should we."
The Chicago Sun Times also reported recently that former commerce secretary/White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley is in Hong Kong promoting business development for Chicago. Charlie Mathews wrote in the Jan. 27 Herald Times Reporter that Manitowoc historically has had a higher unemployment rate than the statewide average, with a median household income lower than the state as a whole.
So, Manitowoc, what are you going to do? Are you going to take the initiative to contact innovative enterprises to move here, to offer tax rebates to encourage new businesses, and to incentivize current property owners to replace dreary old exteriors with bright modern designs, so as to transform the city into a productive, modern, beautiful, lakefront community with lower employment and higher incomes?
The time to act aggressively is now. Real leadership requires vision. Real leaders take action.