Superior Mayoral Candidates Outline Visions For Economic Development

Fennessey, Paine Talk Issues In Wisconsin Public Radio Debate


Superior mayoral candidates Brent Fennessey and Jim Paine took part in a Wisconsin Public Radio debate on Tuesday in the KUWS studios. The Superior city councilor and Douglas County board vice chair talked about their visions for economic development.

Fennessey said the city should be more aggressive in attracting industry and manufacturing to Superior. If elected, the Superior city councilor said he would work to strengthen the city’s relationship with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Northwest Regional Planning Commission.

“When a developer is coming to Superior, we not only need to make them aware of some of these programs. A lot of times what we need to do is sit them down in the same room with WEDC, with Northeast Regional Planning, with UW-Extension to help facilitate some of these grants, some of these programs because a lot of these grants – it’s not just free money,” he said. “There’s a lot of planning that goes involved. There’s a lot of tracking. There’s a lot of paperwork.”

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Paine said Superior can’t focus on solely attracting new businesses. He said the city should use incentives to promote growth from within Superior.

“When that comes to retail, we can help with the development of a person that’s about to become an entrepreneur through things like the Entrepreneur Fund or our Small Business Center or the Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund,” said Paine. “Those are ways to take a person that’s already here and make them into a business owner.”

Fennessey said Superior can also use an ongoing study to help developers pinpoint markets for their business.

“The Development Association, they’re in the infant stage of doing a zip code study where they’re asking small businesses, medium businesses, large businesses where they’re getting their business from,” Fennessey said. “What that will do is give us another tool in our toolbox when we’re talking to some of these developers, talking to some of the retailers, that we’re bigger than just a city the size of 27,000.”

Paine said the city can also help large industries with overhead costs by giving them incentives to improve their businesses.

“One of the programs I helped create at Douglas County was bringing us into the PACE Commission that allows industrial and commercial businesses to make improvements to their actual properties – make energy improvements – that will actually pay for the cost of those loans,” Paine said.

The two agreed that Superior needs to re-imagine how retail stores can remain competitive in a digital age. The entire debate between Fennessey and Paine can be heard this Friday at 10 a.m. during Hear Me Out on Wisconsin Public Radio.