The Siren Economic Development Advisory Committee met last month with consultants Sophie Parr, principal planner, and Aria Kampfer, policy analyst, of Civic 4 LLC to kick off a Siren area economic development planning project funded by a Wisconsin Department of Administration Community Development Block Grant for planning.
Civic 4 has experience and expertise working with smaller communities and is familiar with Northwestern Wisconsin, the organization explained in a news release. Parr's Civic 4 philosophy is "planning enables us to see the future, identify our opportunities and plan for outcomes. Civic 4 takes it one step further, providing the last element that ties it all together, managing the change. We bring accountability to planning, focusing our efforts on measurable results. By learning and becoming an expert of your agency, engaging with your stakeholders, to creating the plan, we make change happen."
Information had been forwarded in advance to Civic 4. During the first session, the Economic Development Advisory Committee provided background on how the group came to pursue the development of an economic development plan, with each member sharing their thoughts and perspectives on the past, present, and future needs for the area.
Parr recapped the process with an overview and timeline of each step; final plan approvals are expected by April 2020. Project input, from numerous sources, is key to the success of the process. The group defined various methods for how to accomplish this by identifying stakeholders, both individual and focus groups, for one-on-one interviews; 'pop-up' events at the September 21st Siren Nationals and September 28th Siren Harvestfest events; a public forum evening being scheduled for mid-October at the Siren School, and an online survey available September-October.
Following the kick off meeting, Parr and Kampfer received a driving tour of the Siren area including the Village of Siren, Town of Siren, and Town of Meenon, which continued into the following morning. Impromptu meet-and-greets were held with the area's broadband businesses, Northwest Passage, and SOFTEC; more of these meetings will be scheduled when Civic 4 returns in September. The committee continues to meet on a monthly basis and members invite the public to share their input with them throughout this process.
Several times during their 2-day familiarization with the Siren area, and also their parting words when leaving, both Parr and Kampfer remarked "Siren has so much potential." The planning project is designed to provide the means to tap into this potential.