Kenosha County takes leading role in economic development

“A wholesale transformation.”

In my most recent address to the County Board, that’s how I characterized Kenosha County’s evolution since 2008. That’s when I took office as county executive and, more significantly, when our country was plunging into the Great Recession.

A sign of our transformation over the last 12 years is a list that our outstanding economic development partner, the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, assembled last year.

I asked KABA to name what it considered to be major employers in Kenosha County in 2008. There were 23 names on that list. The 2019 version has 48 names.

That shows me that Kenosha County’s economy is diversifying, and that we’re continuing to attract new employers, year after year.

As I noted to the County Board, we’ve become a leader in the state, the nation — even internationally — when it comes to economic development. International companies looking to expand their businesses in North America have taken notice that Kenosha County is a sensible, affordable place to do business, especially as it relates to the troubled state to our south.

This hasn’t happened by accident.

Yes, our location plays a role. It can’t hurt to be smack dab between two major metropolitan areas, on Lake Michigan’s majestic shoreline, and along one of the nation’s busiest Interstate highway corridors.

But in our constant pursuit of a stronger economy and an even better quality of life, Kenosha County and its local and state government partners work together to plan and build for anticipated growth. We’re collaborating to make sure our infrastructure keeps up with our current needs, and grows to accommodate future development.
Good infrastructure leads to economic development, which leads to jobs. I say this a lot — because it’s true.

This philosophy was borne out in 2008, when Kenosha County and the City of Kenosha collaborated on a reconstruction of Highway N to accommodate the Gordon Food Service development just north of the airport. Little did we know that that road would soon lead to a massive Amazon fulfillment center, and more.

Now, a dozen years later, we’re about to embark on the largest county trunk highway construction project in our history: The expansion of Highway S into a four-lane, divided highway from Green Bay Road to Interstate 94.

This project is emblematic of our recent growth. This road, now sorely needed, will serve people and goods coming and going from Amazon, the First Park 94 industrial park in Somers, the fast-growing Uline complex just west of I-94, and future developments that we haven’t yet imagined but know are undoubtedly coming.

We’re being proactive. We’re not waiting for the traffic jams that Uline and many other companies have left behind in Illinois.

Along the way, while we focus on economic development, we haven’t lost sight of the significant role that quality-of-life amenities play when businesses decide where to locate and expand, and people decide where to live.

We’ve strengthened our parks system through innovation and public-private partnerships like Boundless Adventures at Bristol Woods Park and the Petrifying Springs Biergarten.

We’re committed to making Kenosha County safe and easily navigable for bicyclists and pedestrians.

And we’ve made free, outdoor Wi-Fi available in our parks and the downtown/lakefront area, because we know people’s offices don’t always have four walls.

As we celebrate our wholesale transformation, we keep working together, at all levels of government and with our private-sector partners, to make Kenosha County the best place to live, work, play and raise a family.

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