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City Planning & Economic Development


“For An Orderly and Balanced Use of Land”

Above is primary mission of the City Office of Planning and Economic Development as listed on the City of Superior’s website. This department is also charged with developing and maintaining the City’s Comprehensive Plan, a 254 page document that was adopted in 2011 and is intended to serve the City until 2030.

Jason Serck, City of Superior Director of Planning & Development | Explore Superior

Jason Serck

This is the go-to organization in government for development, and is led by long-time city planner Jason Serck. Mr. Serck’s office has the greatest knowledge of what properties and buildings are available for purchase and development in Superior. In conjunction with the Redevelopment Authority (RACS) Mr. Serck works to carry out redevelopment within the city limits.

City Planning oversees zoning, special use permits, land sales and subdivisions of land. Related to development, its goal is to grow local businesses, facilitate expansion, and recruit businesses from outside our community to locate in Superior.

One of the tools used by the City to encourage development is the use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) in order to pay for improved public works within a tax incremental district (TID). Without financial tools like this, some development projects would never get off the drawing board.

Economic Development Key Component of Planning

The Comprehensive Plan is the grand guidebook to development in Superior. It dictates public policy in terms of transportation, utilities, land-use, recreation and zoning. Consider it a how-to guide to development.

Section 6 of the comprehensive plan covers Economic Development, running a total of 18 pages. The first ten pages of this section covers such topics as work force levels, education and wages levels, employment by industry, leading employers, employment projections, and commuter patterns. 

Pages 6-11 through 6-13 discuss specific opportunities that are in place for business development in Superior:

  • SuperiorLife Technology Zone Program, that offers State tax credits for businesses that create high-wage jobs and investment and support the development of high-tech industries in the region.
  • Workforce Development, including:
  • Business Development Assistance for small businesses seeking technical assistance:
  • Access to Financing and Venture Capital via the
    • Northwest Wisconsin Business Development Corporation (NWBDC) a  non-profit organization that addresses the critical need for business financing in northwestern Wisconsin centered on timber and wood products, tourism, and other manufacturing and service industries. The NWBDC manages three revolving loan funds (RLF’s) and a technology seed fund. The goal of these is to stimulate private sector investment in long-term business assets and to create new jobs. A key feature of these funds is to provide gap financing when traditional financing cannot be obtained.
    • Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund (DCRLF) is also available to small businesses for start-up and expansion purposes. Originally established by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, as these moneys are paid back to the DCRLF, they are then used to help other businesses with additional loans. 

Redevelopment Sites Within Superior

The comprehensive plan has numerous sites for redevelopment (6-14) that are referred to as “Smart Growth Areas,” sites that encourage efficient development contiguous to existing development at appropriate densities and require relatively low governmental and utility costs.

These locations would be among the first that City Planning would direct potential new and expanding businesses to:

  • Winter Street Industrial Park (35 acre industrial park at the NW tip of the City)
  • Parkland Industrial Park (100 acre site on border with Town of Parkland)
  • South Tower Avenue (in the area and south of the Fairgrounds)
  • Mid-Tower Avenue (Belknap Street to No. 28th Street)
  • East 2nd Street (Highways 2/53)

Economic Development Programs & Organizations

The balance of the Development section of the City’s Comprehensive Plan focuses on Federal and State Programs related to development, along with local organizations that are devoted to bringing business, development and jobs to Superior. 

City Planning works with such Federal and State entities as the Economic Development Administration, USDA Wisconsin Rural Development program, the Wisconsin Departments of Commerce (for Community Development Block Grants for Economic Development, also known as CDBG-ED,) Tourism, and Transportation.

More central to this series of articles by ES are the local programs and resources recognized by the City as key players in local development, including:

  • The Development Association (DA), a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization whose mission is to assist with retention, expansion, creation and recruitment of businesses in Superior and Douglas County.  The DA administers the Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund.
  • Superior Business Center (SBC), a non-profit, economic development program serving Douglas County that fosters economic development through the provision of leased “incubator” space and/or other resources to both existing and start-up businesses. The SBC is managed by the DA. (See a prior ES article on the SBC by clicking HERE.)
  • Superior Business Improvement District (SBID), a public/private organization funded by tax assessment to district property owners that assists entrepreneurs locate within the district. The SBID also offers grants for signage and facade renovation.
  • Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber), a public/private organization funded primarily by dues paying members. It acts as a liaison between business and government, lobbies in favor of development and provides some assistance in business development primarily through networking opportunities. The Chamber also oversees the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
  • Northeast Entrepreneur Fund (NEF), a private non-profit organization that helps individuals in the start-up or expansion of small businesses in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. This organization offers loans of up to $100,000 for business start-up and for existing businesses.
  • Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency (NWCSA), that provides through its Business Development Program, technical assistance, business planning guidance, and management skills training. These services are provided at no cost to individuals who are income eligible.

Bringing It All Together

At the end of the day, it is the role of Mr. Serck and his office to access or refer developers and business owners to the organizations and programs above in order to foster development.

He has some tools he can actively employ at the City level to push development along through zoning and land use regulations, along with TIF to encourage building major developments such as hotels or manufacturing properties.

Probably the greatest service that the Planning Department offers is as a conduit directly to the organizations and programs available to those of an entrepreneurial spirit and those who want to expand their businesses.

Mr. Serck has a strong working relationship with all of the local players in development, and can help get business owners in front of the right people to make development happen.

Contact info for City Planning:

Office of Planning & Economic Development
1316 N. 14th Street
Superior, Wisconsin 54880
Jason Serck, Director
Phone: (715) 395-7335

This is the forth in a series of articles about how development happens in Superior. Follow these links to see the previous three articles:
Small Business Development Center, June 26th
How Development Happens in Superior, June 23rd
Youth Movement Changing Superior, June 22nd

Explore Superior Economic Development Series

Business Incubator Hatches Superior OpportunitiesAugust 21st
Why Develop In Superior? – August 18th
Earth Rider Brewery Construction – August 16th
What’s Happening at The Cedar Lounge? – August 14th
Important Economic Development Concepts – August 8th
Video Tour of Empire BlockAugust 7th
Superior-Douglas County Chamber of CommerceJuly 1st
Superior Business Improvement DistrictJune 30th
The Development Association “Grows Biz!”June 29th
City Planning & Economic DevelopmentJune 27th
Small Business Development CenterJune 26th
How Development Happens in SuperiorJune 23rd
Youth Movement Changing SuperiorJune 22nd

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