Superior Days 2019 update
From February 11th through February 13th, a contingent of 140 delegates from Superior and the counties of Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, and Iron overcame challenging snow conditions to bring the message of Superior’s need for an exposition district to Madison during Superior Days.
LRB 0808 Introduced
Just prior to Superior Days, Sen. Janet Bewley (D) and Rep. Nick Milroy (D) introduced a new bill, LRB 0808, seeking approval of the Better City Superior initiative, and circulated it seeking bipartisan sponsorship. Prior to the Superior Days delegation visit to Madison, most all legislative offices had reviewed the proposed bill. According to Bruce Thompson, “during Superior Days we secured co-sponsorship from Rep. Romaine Quinn (R) of Rice Lake.”
According to Thompson, when offering his support, Rep. Quinn stated, “Something this transformational for the north is something I can support.”
Legislative Director for the Governor Evers’, Stephanie Hilton, J.D., described the governor’s interest in supporting bills with bipartisan sponsorship. Fortunately for Superior’s cause, Ms. Hilton understands the challenges Superior faces having earned her undergraduate degree in Superior at University of Wisconsin, Superior.
While addressing the Superior Days delegation, the governor expressed his goal of returning a certain amount of control and resources to the local municipalities and decision makers. This is a significant change over the views of the previous administration.
The delegation met again with all the senate and assembly legislators or staffers they had reached out to in the past, and provided them with up-to-date summary material of the Better City Superior Exposition District effort. A meeting with Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan and Deputy Secretary Chris Patton also yielded a positive vibe for the BCS initiatives that have already received the support and cooperation of the Superior community.
Although there is still some objections to the BCS plan, the overall reception to LRB 0808 was more positive than previous years’ efforts. This demonstrates that continued education and awareness provided by the BCS group has developed some traction.
Superior leaders and those behind the BCS initiative now plan to move forward with the bipartisan sponsored bill in a more favorable environment. LRB 0808 remains open for comment until Feb. 28. Barring the comment date being extended, the bill will receive a permanent bill number and final form. It will then be scheduled for hearings.
Assuming all moves forward as hoped, Thompson expects that the supporters of BCS and local supportive elective officials will likely be asked to testify again before the appropriate legislative committees. If they are able to successfully navigate that course, the bill will be brought before both houses of the Assembly for a vote up or down.
If that vote is favorable, then the bill would move to the governor’s desk for his signature. Based on the reception received during Superior Days, the BCS group expects the governor to make the bill law. At that point an almost six year process will have finally ended in success for Superior!
Thompson shared with Explore Superior that there will be an opportunity and a need, for citizen support of the bill. BCS will sponsor a bus ride to state capitol in Madison (free of charge) to show support and testify on behalf of the exposition district.
Explore Superior will keep the public updated regarding this process as we learn more.
Making a Case for Better City Superior
No Required Fixed Tax Increase
Public funds are generated through consumption-based taxes paid on services such as prepared food and beverage and hotel/motel visits. The Superior Expo District would not impact state or local fixed taxes.
A Minimal but Worthy Investment
If established, the Superior Expo District could qualify for an estimated $8-10 million of private 40-year bonds to be used in conjunction with existing local funds and private capital.
The combined public/private investment is estimated to create $100 million in community assets.
With state support, Duluth has fostered a robust tourism economy – attracting 6 million visitors annually with total spending estimated at $1 billion, according to an independent study by Longwoods International.
Superior and the state of Wisconsin can benefit from the proximity to a well-known tourism destination, but it must establish new and attractive assets to be competitive and remain relevant into the future. Economics dictate that public/private partnerships such as those created through the Superior Expo District are the best path to develop those assets.
Overwhelming Local Support
In the November 2016 election 76 percent of Superior voters approved a referendum to create an exposition district. Residents and businesses overwhelmingly support this path forward as shown in independent focus groups, a countywide online survey, financial support, resolutions and endorsements by local governments, associations, and education institutions, and at the ballot box.