|Editorials by Ken Harwood and Others|
This is the editorial website of Ken Harwood - Resume found at bottom..
I also edit and publish Wisconsin Development News and now four other weekly news blogs. Most of the links below are editorials I have written. You are also encouraged to visit the other websites I have developed and maintain:
A unified Wisconsin is a better Wisconsin
Four years ago, I wrote an article titled "Rules for the next governor." Rather that review how well our new governor did, I thought I would set a new path for our leader taking the reins on Tuesday. First, we need to improve our image....
Thinking Outside the Box
What if you could create more jobs than mining, set aside tens of thousands of acres for public use, collect more tax dollars without raising taxes, and help restore the economies of communities large and small across the state. I believe we can and the best part is that we will be using much Illinois and other out of state money to do it. Clearly we need jobs and revenue to grow Wisconsin. We are getting close to allowing mining and other ventures to use our land and water to accomplish this. Once these resources are depleted we will find it difficult to restore them for future generations. We need a solution that preserves our natural resources, creates new jobs, and works in many communities across the state.
A new role for the WEDC
...This said, Wisconsin is uniquely positioned to set an example for the nation by creating a fair and attractive environment for new and expanding business. First we must place our efforts where our mouth is. Our governor has announced that the game is on with his "Open For Business" campaign, but when new companies come to play, they find that the actual game plan needs work. Here are five things I believe we must do better in order to attract new business and grow our existing ones, and in spite of the tarnished image, WEDC could play a huge role....
Cheese is the Apple of Wisconsin
As I sit here deciding whether or not to buy the New iPad from Apple, I was wondering, "Does Wisconsin have an Apple?" Turns out the answer is yes, and, cue the spotlight, drum-roll please, the answer is cheese. Let's compare, Apple Computer vs. Wisconsin Cheese: huge brand awareness check, market dominance check, innovative new products check, a great company to promote the brand you don't know the half of it...
Wisconsin snubbed again in business climate ranking
...So how can Wisconsin improve? "Hanging an open sign is only the first step in encouraging new business," says Ken Harwood, editor of Wisconsin Development News and former mayor of Neenah. "We need to stock the shelves with products businesses want, like, great employees, good schools, continuing education, infrastructure improvements, and a stable tax environment."
Bottom up economic recovery
Despite banks too big to fail and bailouts for the automobile industry, one economic development expert believes real economic stimulus starts in local communities, not in Washington, D.C. Ken Harwood, executive director of Lafayette Development Corp. and editor and publisher of WisconsinDevelopment.com, described what he said are some keys to economic recovery at last week's Waunakee-DeForest Business to Business Expo....
Simple Solutions To Extremely Complex Problems - Energy Research
First In A Series of Simple Solutions To Extremely Complex Problems Energy Research What if each state were to partner with educational institutions, their DNR's, the Federal government, and independent agencies (like the Nature Conservancy) to set aside a parcel of land (say 500+ acres per state) as a living laboratory for advanced energy conservation and green technology research..."land grants" would be based on...
An overview of TIF laws with some suggestions for success!
A review of what Tax Incremental Financing is, the laws and statutes as well as some more creative ideas on making them work...
Tim`s Travels: Local Store Pushes Local Products
A local business is doing it's part to help other area businesses succeed! The Lafayette County General Store in Belmont is a non-profit store with one goal: to promote products born and bred in southwestern Wisconsin. It's a little country store located just off of Highway 151 in Belmont. We represent most of the cheese companies in the area, Ken Harwood is the general manager of the Lafayette County General Store.
FINAL CRBJ ARTICLE - Lessons from a small startup, and the value of a handshake
...I have recently been involved with the opening of a small retail outlet to promote economic development in southwest Wisconsin. The Lafayette County General Store is sort of a three-dimensional business card for production facilities, farmers and artists in the region. With the new Open for Business mantra in Wisconsin, I thought I would share some of the real issues that I encountered and the factors that eventually moved the project forward...
New beginning in store at Lafayette County site
Facility that once housed a visitor center will reopen on Monday and feature products from southwest Wisconsin. BELMONT, Wis. -- Seven years ago, then-Gov. Jim Doyle cut a ceremonial ribbon on what was known as the Belmont Area Visitor Center. Doyle said the center, located on the village's U.S. 151 interchange, would serve as a gateway to southwest Wisconsin...
Recycling, mass transit, wind energy old dogs but worth keeping around
...I really do understand the desire to eliminate these programs. I have firsthand experience with the cost complexity and inefficiencies of each of them. They frustrate me BUT, clearly someday we could be sitting on the side of the bed flailing our feet to avoid the dog only to discover that she is not there...
Looking at what worked in recession, it wasnt the government handouts
A recent paper released by the Federal Reserve outlined the impact of the recession from 2007 to 2009. While technical in nature, the highlights suggest more than 60 percent of Americans lost wealth. Foreclosures accounted for more than 25 percent of all home sales since 2007. Home values declined by around 30 percent. Unemployment topped 10 percent for much of this period. Bank reserves dipped so low that federal money was required to maintain solvency. The report suggests....
Right now, state has Team W, Team U and Team D; I am on Team J
In twenty years of public service as a school board member, full time mayor, and city alderman, I have actually negotiated dozens of public service contracts for hundreds of employees. I have been seated across ... police union sent five negotiators, all in full dress uniform, wearing guns,while the state caped my spending and cut my funding. My firefighters suggested that without a ... people would die but exceptions could be made for holidays and deer hunting season. My public works guys didn't negotiate at the table they did fill every driveway opening in the city with six feet of snow...
All players in development game need the same tool box, play book
I was recently working with a company looking to expand into Southwest Wisconsin. They were from drumroll, please Illinois. Thank you, thank you very much, really, no, sit down, youre too kind. I grabbed my economic development tool box and began my pitch. I started with...We need to be able to assure a new company that if they bring jobs to Wisconsin, we can offer some very specific assistance...
In making 2011 resolutions, state should start with balanced budget
Happy New Year! Time for new beginnings and resolutions. In the spirit of adventure and nobility, here are a few resolutions for Wisconsin. A balanced budget...Shared revenue for shared services...Term limits...One health plan for all state employees...the New Year does allow us to put on the armor of Don Quixote or take a seat at Arthurs table and, for one shining moment, dream of what might have been. For that, I thank you.
Regional Report: Dane County
Regional Report: Dane County No longer insulated and recession-proof, Dane County stands to gain by focusing on economic development In his 1978 gubernatorial campaign, Wisconsins late Gov. Lee S. Dreyfus referred to Madison as 30 square miles surrounded by reality. But like many other counties and communities, Madison and Dane County have not been immune to the realities of the economic downturn in recent years... An Update by Amanda Wegner...
If Wisconsin is really `open for business`, we`ll need a business plan
This month I am working on a business plan, budget and pro forma for a new business in Lafayette County. So, I was glad to hear that Wisconsin is now, in fact, open for business. As I ponder the multitude of details in my business plan, I wonder, will Wisconsin use the same evaluation process required of new ventures to make their business decisions? Will we do our homework?...
Toasters and Aston Martins
I am writing this article one week before the Nov. 2 election you are reading this article just after the election. I know there will be a new governor you know who he is. You will have seen a clear message sent from an electorate that is frustrated with many of the issues before us. You will know, to some degree, what that message is.
The Developer for November 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
Advice pre election...
Former Neenah Mayor Ken Harwood, who now is the executive director of the Lafayette Development Corp. in Darlington, wrote the following advice before Tuesdays election, but it applies regardless of who won: Dont spend what you dont have,Spend one-time money once, Borrow only for things that will outlast the loan, Think global by empowering locally, Banks dont buy cars and houses people do, Use a cause-and-effect tax structure...
Baby You Can Drive My Car Revisited
President Obama came to Madison the other day and gave a very good speech that had an excellent analogy of the Democrats pushing to free a car that had been driven into the ditch. The visualization was brilliant as he mentioned Republicans who stood to the side sipping Slurpees and now wanting the keys back. It actually made some sense until I thought about a few questions that hadnt been answered.
The Developer for October 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
Tending the economic garden must be states No. 1 priority
One of the buzz words in business development these days is economic gardening. Simply stated, it means nurturing your existing businesses...Currently, there is a proposal to re-create the Commerce Department and spend $500 million to attract new businesses to the state. I believe before we do this, we need to develop a strategy to grow the businesses that are here now and keep them in Wisconsin as they expand. Wisconsin needs to partner with business to make the state stronger.
Pledge made to replace burned Qurans
I am a Christian. I am an American. I believe that being an American affords me the right to freely express my views without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, these freedoms have given a person the right to burn Qurans in my country without fear of retribution. While his right, this is neither a Christian act nor representative of the freedoms I hold dear...
The Developer for September 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
The Brilliance Factor
A year and a half ago at the beginning of the economic downturn and the beginning the multitude of stimulus packages, I wrote that we had failed to stimulate four things. Specifically, Retirement Funds, Mortgages, Employment, and Consumer Debt...you can read it HERE... but I do want to point out that many of these problems still exist and we are doing little to address them even today...
The Developer for July 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
After listening to Obamas spill speech, enviro-businessman unveils his own plan
After reading my article last month headlined Allow me to share with you an excellent mass-transit plan, where I presented mass-transportation options for Madison using alternative fuel vehicles, a friend called and said, Ken I never knew you were such an environmentalist. To be honest, I never knew I was an environmentalist...We are missing the goal, the vision, the synergy, and the outcome we need to move forward. Here is what I believe the President should have said...
The Developer for June 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
Allow me to share with you an excellent mass-transit plan
I have often commented that greater Madison needs a comprehensive transportation system to connect the airport, surrounding communities, hotels, and shopping areas with the Downtown. Now we have a high-speed rail system potentially bringing even more people into the Downtown and when they step off the train they will step into ... almost nothing. Mass transit Madison is clearly not for the masses.
The Developer for May 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
Harwood hits the trail... to Lafayette County
Ken Harwood stands in front of his condominium on the south side of the city, pointing his toe at a manhole cover with the familiar words "Neenah Foundry" on it. "Can you imagine (having been) mayor of a city where it's never more than 20 feet away?" he asks with only a slight exaggeration. "I was in Times Square once, it was right after losing the election, I was still pretty broken up about it ... and there it was." As the last few days tick away before an election in which he's not participating, the District 4 alder seems just as nostalgic about his time in Verona...
What if we all played on the same team?
...When we examine all the current problems in government and the private sector, we can attribute every single problem to one thing: We do not play for the same team. In fact, we are often on such opposite sides of an issue that we fail even to recognize the players. We fail as government and businesses to realize that when one wins by hurting another, we all lose...
The Developer for april 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
Now, we can spend the next three years deciphering our new health plan
We now have a national health care program, and to be honest, I have no idea what exactly that means. I am not sure exactly who will benefit or how the new plan will be implemented. The plan is between 2,000 and 3,000 pages long, and my guess is that very few have read it. We had some very interesting options on the table, but the end result was a program that will take some time to analyze, more time to implement, and longer still to grade.
The Developer for March 2010
Lafayette Development Corporation Newsletter.
It is time to recognize the heroes on this economic battlefield
I recently Googled the terms layoff and profit to get some idea of where we actually were in our fight on the economic battle field and what I found was depressing very depressing. Some companies were starting to move slowly back to the positive side of the ledger sheet but often these were the companies that fought the battle by devastating their own armies. More layoffs are in front of us and success stories are often from overseas....
Im all for high-speed rail - but $810 million is a lot of money
As an elected official, I have always applied a simple test to spending money. Before I spend it, I ask myself, Is this the best possible way to spend this money in my community and how would I spend the money if it came directly from my pocket? That said, I am a fan of high-speed rail. I would love to see a corridor between Milwaukee and Madison that would improve mass transit between the communities. Provided I could get to where I needed to be at the end of the line, I would use the train. But would I spend $810 million of my money on it?
Cities even Madison must strike a balance between architecture, economics
Several large projects serve to define Madison, and more are on the brink of redefining our community. The challenge of building structures that speak about a city is that they rarely are good business and often are most controversial. Of course, if these projects werent able to produce the discussion, passion and controversy that great architecture often does they would not be significant enough to say something about the community. This balance between architectural excellence and sound economics is a paradox...
MGE making good on its pledge to use renewable energy sources
There is a tidal wave of government regulation on the horizon regarding energy production. Both the U.S. House and Senate are considering bills that would require substantial amounts of energy to be produced from renewable or cleaner sources, and the two bills would enact a set of mandates that cap future carbon emission levels and allow utilities to trade emissions on the commodities market. I would be negligent not to point...
My 3, 6, 3 Plan
Last Sunday I heard a pundit suggest that the administration now believed that the recession would not be over until the economy started to create new jobs. Ya think! As brokers, developers and business professionals we need to weigh in on what our government is doing and suggest real solutions for very real problems. We can no longer complain and blame the other guy because we are the other guy.
Governor living in Milwaukee would be a good thing
Tom Barrett has implied that he would not remove his children from their Milwaukee schools if he were to run for governor and that he would want to spend some time in Milwaukee if he was elected. I suggest that not only could this be a good idea for the governor, it would be a great idea for the rest of the elected state officials as well. Spending time outside Madison would allow our legislators to spend more time in their districts talking to local businesses, having coffee with seniors, getting involved with the local schools, and getting to know the real problems and the real opportunities in their districts throughout the state.
Madison could learn a lot from IBM-Dubuque partnership
IBM recently announced plans to open a technology service delivery center in Dubuque, Iowa. The facility will occupy the renovated Dubuque Building built downtown during the Great Depression. This massive structure formerly housed Rosheks Department Store and will be rebuilt to the highest environmental and ergonomic standards. It is expected to create 1,300 jobs, but the IBM-Dubuque partnership goes much further than jobs. More recently, IBM has asked Dubuque to become a Smart City following a European program developed by IBM. The program allows IBM to use its massive array of technological equipment...
Rules for a new governor
As I write this, I have been contemplating Governor Doyle's decision not seek a third term in office. I am not sure what that means for the state, but 'I do know we need' to focus on jobs and the economy as we move forward. Before you think this will become partisan, I should also suggest that no party has a lock on the pro-business economy. In fact the most successful times in recent history were when no one party was in control.
In a likely economic recovery scenario, two teams will emerge
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China, Japan present opportunities, but the right approach is key
Wisconsin will lead a 10-day trade mission to Japan and China in September. Because my invite was obviously lost in the mail, I thought I would prepare a primer for those lucky enough to attend. Many are suggesting that China will lead the charge for a recovering economy and that Japan is showing signs that things may get worse before they get better. Still, both countries offer real opportunities and lessons in a global economy where success will depend on a world view. China Recently China out-purchased the United States in new car...
No more excuses -- it's time to start using green technology
Is green technology catching up with the rhetoric of the past? In my 1970s hippie days, I was an advocate for a greener planet. Solar power could be harvested by coiling black hose in a glass box and preheating water for the laundry. Detroit had secretly suppressed plans for a car that ran on water. The 1973 oil embargo would soon show us that wind was the real answer, and finally, if we dug deep enough we could tap Earths core for enough free geothermal steam to meet all of our heating needs. We were sure we had all the answers and only the media and corporate big brother were holding us back.
Proper budgeting involves following just a few basic rules
By the time you read this, it is likely the state of Wisconsin will have passed a budget ostensibly dealing with a more than $6 billion deficit over the next biennium. Unfortunately, much of the balancing act is tied to onetime stimulus money, new taxes and deferral of debt, rather than repayment. The examples demonstrated by our legislators should have sent a strong message to business and other units of government in our state...
OK, everyone -- let's review the proper way to feed a bear
Are we feeding the wrong end of the bear? OK, clearly not my best analogy, but it does illustrate the bear market economy and the challenges we all face. If we shovel money into to the wrong end of our economic problems, we fail to address the famine that is the causing the problem in the first place. For the past few years, we have seen an economy stimulated with easy credit and the assumption that the American dream was at hand. We borrowed, we spent, we invested, or at least two of the three...
Growing Our Own
One of the additional challenges of a recovering economy will be creating new jobs in the region. As existing national companies downsize and reduce their production capacity, our hopes of their building new facilities or expanding current ones is limited at best. Of course we are seeing some companies take advantage of sparkling new facilities available at very completive rates - but they are most often relocating from down the road, not other states or regions. To add to the employment base and see new brick and mortar we will have to start from seed.
Consumers hold the key to restarting the economy game
I was recently the speaker at a sports banquet, which was a challenge because I speak about the economy. My opening analogy did seem to get the point across, though. In a basketball game, if the ball goes flat, while many solutions are obvious, in the case of the economy we have chosen to solve the problem by sending money to Wilson, the ball manufacturer. We then sit in the stadium waiting for the game to continue while Wilson pays bonuses to their executives and buys a soccer ball manufacturer in Brazil. In..
A Developers Job
It is interesting to note that in order to sustain a new economy, whatever that may be and whenever it may come, many of the new jobs will have to come from the private sector. Yet the current solution seems focused on the public sector or temporary jobs based on short term projects. It is further disheartening to realize that many of the new projects are really previously scheduled projects now shifted to use stimulus monies.
Things the stimulus missed
Four things we haven't stimulated: Retirement funds Baby boomers are now in their 60s. They were ready to retire and return to their hippie, free-spirit lives of the past, creating tens of millions of jobs for the generations replacing them and millions more jobs for those who cater to their dreams of beaches, travel and multiple homes. They woke up this year to IRAs, pensions and investments reduced by as much as half. They now have no faith in a Social Security system that now must be o
To suggest that we are all worried about the effects of the economy on our community would have to be an understatement. To be honest, this little column of mine was more fun to write when I could joke about little pink houses, suggest we market our community a bit more effectively or become a little more green. Those were the days, simpler thoughts for simpler times and that was just six months ago.
Last month I mentioned the paradox of major companies laying off employees to bolster their bottom lines, while at the same time asking for federal assistance. To be overly graphic, this is a little like throwing bodies off a sinking ship to lighten the load. Lets look at the impact of millions of laidoff workers on the economy. First, the lack of income for an extended period makes it hard to pay the bills, so the mortgage and bank lenders...
Its a Stool, Stupid
It appears to me that economic recovery is a three-leg stool. The first leg is the financial stability of the overall economy. As we all know, this is being addressed by the various packages the government is working on with banks, the stock market and industry giants. We must prevent an all-out meltdown of the economy and reduce the chance of massive defaults and bankruptcies. But this is only one leg of our stool, and the other two... are shaking badly...
I Know Very Little
Why do I feel that many of you have read just the title and are already applauding? As I write this, we are less than one month away from a presidential election and less than a week into a new economy created as a program designed to bolster the financial system. We have already seen both the largest one-day declines and gains on Wall Street, and our candidates have laid out solutions to problems I am not sure we have yet identified. As you read this, we will have a new president (barring any hanging chads or other controversy) and depending on the success of the economic programs...
The Value of the Neighborhood
I recently wrote that I was concerned that the Community Development Authority (CDA) had to dismiss Eppstein Uhen Architects on the soon-to-begin Allied Drive project because they had only allocated $179,000 for design and other related work for the $9.2 million project. EUA had reduced their offer from $900,000 to $375,000. In my news blog I suggest that a public-private partnership and...
Vision from the Forests of Germany
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz recently talked about his visit to Madisons sister city of Freiburg, Germany, where car-light neighborhoods provide parking on the periphery and people walk to their homes. He suggested that these neighborhoods could find a place in Madison. A little Google research told me more, much more. The eco-city of Freiburg, population 200,000, also has an extensive pedestrian zone...
An Epic Defense
First and foremost, let me suggest that Epic does not need my help. They have a great product, a crystal-clear understanding of an emerging market and a solid business plan. My defense is in response to things that have been written by others. Epics new campus is not urban sprawl. Epics vision was to create a campus so special that it would inspire its employees and clients.
Pontifications Bad for Plans
Let me begin by saying that I applaud planning. The Smart Growth legislation and Mayor Daves leadership role in moving the legislation forward, as the former executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, are great examples of how we as communities can be asked to plan our futures, think about our goals and aspirations, and create better communities for our children.
Its About Shoes
When Brown Shoes, parent company of Famous Footwear, announced almost a year ago that they may relocate their headquarters, I did a little digging in the St. Louis media and discovered that what they really wanted was for Missouri to pony up to keep them in the state. I knew this from the first day and yet I used this publication and my news blog to encourage us as a community to contact the CEO (who has Madison roots) and others at Brown Shoes and invite, even entice, them to come to Madison. I did this for months, knowing we would lose the game, regardless of our efforts. Shame on me.
A Different Kind of Beltine
It is amazing that a simple highway can attract development away from the core of a city to the perimeter and create hundreds of millions of dollars of economic development. But Greater Madison is among the norm here. What is unique is that the communities connected by our Beltline have maintained an identity and established quality development standards of their own. These collective communities have the potential to create something special. Middleton has blended old, new..
Green by Design
A few months back I wrote a column suggesting that incorporating environmentally friendly design into new construction was not only good for the long-term bottom line, but could also increase productivity and employee satisfaction. This month I am suggesting that entire communities may need to get involved to encourage the type of design that will create great places to work, shop and live, while placing less demand on energy. It still costs more to design and build a green facility than it does to build a traditional building. This cost is a strong deterrent for developers faced with financing costs, construction timelines and potential holding costs. What if a community could...
Policy vs. Planning
The newly formed Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) is considering a broad new policy designed to control growth for the next 20+ years, while preserving farmland and natural areas. The plan would limit where communities could extend sewer and water with the intent of restricting new development to higher density neighborhoods and projects adjacent to existing service areas.
Thinking Outside The Box
I have always been one to think a little outside the box OK, a lot. Not that this has always worked for me, but it creates an opportunity to dream big, and greater Madison needs some big dreams. So, here is my short list. Add to it or call me crazy Ive been called worse. A world-class 500-room hotel downtown, preferably an existing building adjacent to Monona Terrace.
Let's promote our state as a great place to do business
Forbes Magazine just ranked the "Best States For Business," and I for one am outraged at the 44th-place ranking Wisconsin received. And before we all point the proverbial finger at someone else for this, we need to take a long hard look at ourselves. We are not good at doing what needs to be done to attract new business to the state and promote and nurture the businesses that are already here. How is it that the state with the 8th-best quality of life ranking
Here's a new idea for making college affordable
Free tuition for all University of Wisconsin students is unrealistic for the simple fact that it raises taxes in a state whose residents, if not thepoliticians, know that it is already on the high end on the tax scale. We can accomplish the objective, which is to keep students in Wisconsin after graduation, however, with a much better and actually workable solution. First, the state would make student loans available to any student enrolled in the UW or the technical college systems. The loans would be made at slightly above market yet fair rates (keep reading) and would be easily available through any participating loan institution.
New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia
New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia Completed in October 1977 and extending 3,030 feet across the New River Gorge, the imposing steel structure was at one point the longest single-span arch bridge in the world. It has become a symbol of West Virginia, so much so that each year, on the third Saturday in October, Fayette County celebrates Bridge Day by closing the span to vehicular traffic. In addition to offering rappelling and BASE-jumping demonstrations, the festival marks the only day pedestrians are allowed to walk across the bridge.
My Grandfather's Patents
My grandfather was a research scientist and inventor for Kimberly-Clark. He holds a number of patents for the company, seen at this link. He often was reluctant to talk about his work when I was a youth because much of his work involved sanitary napkins (Kotex). He was very proud of the Kleenex Pocket Pack and Non-woven cloth both invented by him and still in use today.
About Me (resume)...
Personal Resume / Vita of Ken Harwood