Mayors Respond to YP Visioning

On July 12, members of the Young Professionals of the Coulee Region group of the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the municipal leadership of La Crosse (Mayor Tim Kabat), Onalaska (Mayor Joe Chilsen) and Holmen (Village President Nancy Proctor). The Mayors provided a response to the group’s 2016 YP Visioning Session, in which the group shared their view on what our community needs to attract and retain talent and move from good to great.

The mayors were asked to speak to what their respective community is working on to move these key items forward. Their responses are below.

Mayor Tim Kabat – City of La Crosse

Kabat shared struggles faced in housing and neighborhood development including age of housing stock, floodplain issues and crime reduction. On the topic of affordable local housing, Kabat pointed to the redo of the Bakalars Sausage facility into a residential unit to include six units marked for individuals transitioning out of homelessness in the area.

Access to downtown La Crosse from the river, a key finding of the YP Visioning Session, is in the planning stages but Kabat says to look forward to recommendations and plans by mid-2018.

Finally, Mayor Kabat reemphasized the Young Professionals’ belief that the support provided to our small, locally-owned businesses is what sets the La Crosse Area apart as a region. He noted the value in the Coulee Region Business Center as a key node for workforce and economic development and shared an exciting development that in the near future, the La Crosse will be adding a significant amount of funding to their budget to support women- and minority-owned businesses in La Crosse.

Mayor Joe Chilsen – City of Onalaska

Chilsen shared the exciting work being done on the waterfront in Onalaska through Skogen Park as well as the desire to improve safety of pathways in and around the marsh. Chilsen emphasized the value of collaboration between municipalities on these projects: “High tide raises all boats. We’re all in this together” and “Collaboration is a must. It’s a necessity.” Chilsen shared the struggle Onalaska faces with land use, noting that space is tight.

Mayor Chilsen closed by sharing the city’s new Three Vision team to gather vital community feedback through focus groups: Back in the Days, Teeners (high school students and teen members) and YoPros (Young Professionals). Chilsen remarked on the promising nature of the engaged attendees in the YPCR and challenged them to be an integral part of their tomorrow and to get involved with designing the future of their city today.

Village President Nancy Proctor – Village of Holmen

Village President Proctor shared the sentiment that Holmen is the place to be, as evidenced by its ample available land and high-profile development projects, including a new Gundersen clinic, Festival Foods store and Kwik Trip. Construction of the shops on Hale will bring six new, varied businesses into the area. Proctor also noted that these additions to the community, in addition to construction of a new middle school and improvements to the local high school, add to the overall livability of the Village of Holmen.