Planning committees say village must do better job of marketing community’s most desirable features
Members of the Village of Saukville’s Plan Commission and Community Development Authority held a combined meeting recently to consider a vision of what the future village could be like.
Before members could tackle the question of what kind of development they would like to see, they addressed the community’s existing image.
Led by economic development consultant Marilyn Haroldson and Ozaukee Economic Development Executive Director Kathleen Cady Schilling, officials were polled on Saukville’s strengths and perceived weaknesses.
“We have to become our own best salesperson, remind people what we have here,” Cady Schilling said.
The most common misconception, officials said, is that Saukville is far removed from metropolitan Milwaukee.
“A lot of people confuse us with Sauk City, and think we are in the middle of the state,” Village President Barb Dickmann said.
“There is also the perception that we are prone to flooding, even though we haven’t had a real flood since 2004.”
Others complained that Saukville is sometimes seen as a suburb of Port Washington, and even noted a commercial from a local car dealership that states it is located “just north of Mequon.”
To capitalize on its location, the consultants said the village should stress the community’s accessibility to I-43 and its proximity to Milwaukee, as well as industrial centers in West Bend and Sheboygan.
Noting the success the village’s neighbor to the south has had in attracting development, Dickmann added, “Grafton is going to run out of land eventually.”
Affordability was another selling point the village could emphasize when trying to attract development, the consultants said.
“The question is how to do you sell the bargain without being seen as Walmart?” Cady Schilling asked.
That discussion led officials to recall a campaign from decades ago, using the slogan “Saukville will work for you.”
“That wasn’t a bad slogan,” said CDA member John Ross.
Officials then began listing the kind of development they would like to see, including naming several well-known retailers they thought would fit in well.
“I lobbied to get an Ikea and was told there aren’t enough people in Wisconsin to justify a store here. I said I would still like to see one,” Dickmann said.
Other desired brands mentioned included Fleet Farm, Dollar Store and Starbucks.
Prospective tenants for the soon-to-be-vacated Piggly Wiggly store were suggested, including a Goodwill store or a family recreation center that would offer laser tag and climbing walls.
Officials also said they would like to see a high-end restaurant come to the community, but conceded that could be a problem because the village has no liquor licenses available.
Haroldson said the prospects are bright for the industrial park, where only two large parcels remain undeveloped — 19 and nine acres.
Industrial sites have been made particularly appealing by a 50% discount offered by the village on larger parcels, bringing the cost down to $15,000 an acre.
While none of the development questions were resolved at the meeting, officials agreed that efforts must be taken to standardize the village’s image and message in the various promotional materials it distributes.