(Dodge County) The Dodge County Board’s Executive Committee and municipal leaders met Monday to discuss economic development. The driving force behind the meeting has been recent talks surrounding a joint economic partnership between Dodge and Jefferson Counties. ThriveED is a non-profit organization that works to support local businesses and spur growth throughout the region. The group’s operating budget for 2021 is $539-thousand-dollars, of which Dodge County pays $135-thousand.
Several supervisors on the county board believe there has not been a significant return on investment since ThriveED began operations in 2017. Others argue there needs to be defined incentives to show tangible proof of success. Supervisor Jeff Schmitt says some on the board feel it is best to discontinue their contract with ThriveED because it has proven difficult to define how to measure successes.
Several village, town and city leaders noted that economic development takes time to reap the benefits. Beaver Dam Mayor Becky Glewen says her predecessor, Tom Kennedy, had set up multiple TIF districts which she is now benefiting from.
ThriveED President Vicky Pratt championed the importance of their work, especially during the pandemic. She says their 2020 was very busy including the launch of the Back to Business Program which aided over 125 businesses in both Dodge and Jefferson Counties impacted by the COVID outbreak.
The executive committee recommended creating an advisory council to discuss economic issues and set measurables for ThriveED to focus on. The matter will be brought back up during the committee’s meeting on Monday.