It Takes a Team | Explore Superior

How Development Happens in Superior


Who Are The Key Players in Development?

With talk of redeveloping downtown Superior swirling around for the past few years, sparked by the Better City Superior (BCS) initiative, Explore Superior thought it might be interesting to explore how development happens.

Better City SuperiorThe combination of a call by BCS for envisioning a new downtown Superior, coupled with a long-planned complete rebuild of Tower Avenue two years ago, and the same now being done on Belknap Street, has created an environment of hopefulness.

In this article we provide an overview of how development takes place here, and will expand on each topic in later articles.

Community Pride Rising

As mentioned in a previous article, new generation of leaders has come to the fore in the past few years, exhibiting a renewed pride in community that is essential to enable change to succeed.

Jim Paine | Mayor of Superior Wisconsin | Explore Superior

Mayor Jim Paine

Invigorated, youthful leadership driven from dedicated individuals who love their community will certainly influence and speed along any new improvements to Superior.

Superior has a new, youthful mayor in Jim Paine, and five young, recently elected city council members in Keith Kern, Brent Fennessey, Jenny VanSickle, Craig Sutherland, and Tylor Elm. Additionally, with Tyler Pedersen taking the helm at the Chamber of Commerce, the next generation is taking over the future of Superior.

The renewed pride and sense of self exhibited by the people behind #WEARESUPERIOR, including film maker Sarah Mayne and community activist Kalee Hermanson, speaks well for involvement at the neighborhood level and throughout our city.

It also signals that positive changes are on the horizon.

How Does Development Happen

Up North Sundries | Superior, Wisconsin | Explore Superior

Up North Sundries

While driving through town over the past year you may have seen a new apartment building going up in South End, decrepit housing being torn down on Belknap to make way for a new Kwik Trip, and a former North End beer distributor’s warehouse soon to be converted into a brewery. How does that happen?

Meanwhile, new small shops have begun to sprout up along Tower Avenue between Belknap and Winter streets. Existing businesses reface their buildings with new façades with attractive signage, flowers appear in large planters on sidewalks, and plants are tended to in the boulevard. Does this all happen by accident?

The truth is that development seldom happens in a vacuum. Few and far in between are the projects that get started just because someone decides to build something. The same goes for where and when entrepreneurs choose to open a new store…it’s not always solely about location, location, location…money and advice are important as well.

Connected Organizations Working Together

When a business person or company chooses to expand or build in Superior, there is a loosely associated group of organizations that work together to help make things happen. They all have their specialties, but overall their focus is in alignment…to help businesses succeed in Superior.

Small Business Development Center

Small Business Development Center | Superior, Wisconsin | Explore SuperiorEvery organization we spoke to while preparing this article, took great pains to direct us to Andy Donahue, Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located in Erlanson Hall on the UW-Superior campus. The stated mission of the SBDC is to support business success through a three stage process: Start, Manage, and Grow.

What Mr. Donahue helps new and expanding business owners create is a thorough and focused business plan. His office helped twenty two businesses get off the ground last year, with only one failure, and is already working with ten new businesses in 2017.

City Planning and Economic Development Department

City of Superior, Wisconsin | Explore SuperiorThe go-to development organization in government is the City Office of Planning and Economic Development led by Jason Serck. This office has the greatest knowledge of what properties and buildings are available for purchase and development, and in conjunction with the Redevelopment Authority works to carry out redevelopment within the city limits.

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

The Superior/Douglas County Chamber of Commerce

Superior Chamber of Commerce | Superior, Wisconsin | Explore SuperiorWith it highly visible location on Belknap Street in Superior’s East End, the Chamber of Commerce is often the first place prospective businesses stop in at when contemplating opening or expanding a business in our community.

With a mission focused on advancing the business interests and community growth of our area, the Chamber is a great resource for networking the community and meeting the people who may help a new business succeed.

The Chamber provides a directory of its membership and has more than 400 members throughout its area of influence. The staff and board of directors of the Chamber seek to achieve their goals through networking events, legislative involvement, educational programs, and other marketing channels.

The Development Association

A group that has been supporting and assisting development in Superior for over fifty years, the Development Association (DA) is a public/private organization devoted to implementing development initiatives that help our community prosper.

The Development Association | Superior, Wisconsin | Explore SuperiorLed by Jim Caesar, the DA has well over one hundred member companies, along with the City of Superior, who fund its mission at varying levels. The fourteen member board of directors is drawn from the business community and from elected officials.

Their website breaks down this mission into four distinct categories:

  1. Starting a new businessprovides counseling, education and access to loan opportunities
  2. Business recruitmentoffers professional assistance via needs assessment and other sources
  3. Entrepreneursassists new businesses through its Business & Culinary Incubator
  4. Retention & Expansiontakes proactive steps to help existing businesses grow

Superior Business Center

The Superior Business Center (SBC) is a business incubator facility that serves Superior and Douglas County. While not directly connected with the DA, it is managed by Jim Caesar’s JCC Services company.

Superior Business Center | Superior, Wisconsin | Explore SuperiorLocated at 1423 North 8th Street in Superior, it offers manufacturing and warehouse space, as well as office suites and small cubicles designed to get new businesses off the ground at an affordable price. Its goal is to foster economic development to its area through the provision of leased space and/or other resources to both existing and start-up businesses.

SBC tenants receive flexible and affordable space, with low overhead expenses, and opportunities for entrepreneurial training. Current tenants of the SBC include a chocolatier, an electronics manufacturer, an environmental testing consultant, a copy machine company, a door company, a retirement planner, and a commercial kitchen.

Superior Business Improvement District

Another public/private organization dedicated to supporting businesses in Superior is the Superior Business Improvement District (SBID.) Created in 1989, the SBID represents property owners within its boundaries with the goal of “sustaining, promoting and enhancing a vibrant commercial district.”

Superior Business Improvement District | Superior, Wisconsin | Explore SuperiorEncourage, Develop, Promote are the three key words that appear on their website. The board of directors is comprised of eleven business people from businesses within the SBID, and the organization is run by Lindsey M. Jacobson, Executive Director, and her assistant Jodi Rochon.

The SBID comprises 89 blocks of businesses that serve the central business district of Superior. It is supported by a tax assessment to all property owners within its borders. Towards its goal of promoting business within the SBID, this organization sponsors and promote events that are business friendly such as the Downtown Farmer’s Market, Summerfest, and the Spooktacular.

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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