2019 Downtown Summit Agenda

We’re pleased to share the draft agenda for the 2019 Downtown Summit, Presented by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Please note that details will continue to be added to this agenda leading up to the Summit. Click on the date header for both Tuesday and Wednesday to expand and see Summit content.
Tuesday, October 15th - Presented by AARP

Day 1 of the Downtown Summit features interactive mobile workshops in the heart of Downtown Green Bay – giving attendees to see the results of downtown revitalization up close and personal. We’ll also highlight Wisconsin Downtown Action Council’s partnership with AARP and their efforts to increase livability for all ages in Wisconsin communities.


11:00 AM – Registration opens at The Automobile Gallery


12:00 PM – Downtown Summit Welcome and Lunch – Presented by Stantec


12:05 PM – Presentation from AARP on Downtown Walkability


1:00 PM – Downtown Walk Audit Announcement for 2020


1:30 PM – Depart for Downtown Treks (mobile workshop tours) – Presented by Nicolet National Bank.

Participants will have the opportunity to see revitalization up close in Downtown Green Bay on one of four mobile workshops.

  • Public Art Trolley Tour: This is a trolley tour that will showcase the many murals found in the Olde Main Street Arts District, as well as the Downtown and On Broadway Districts. Limited seating aailable.
  • Residential Trolley Tour: There is currently a high demand for downtown housing, resulting in many diverse options newly developed or in development. On this trolley tour, participants will have shuttle to multiple residential developments and have the chance to see market rate and luxury apartments, as well as condominium and townhouse development underway in Green Bay. Limited seating available. 
  • Downtown Green Bay District Walking Tour: This Downtown Green Bay tour will offer insights about key initiatives and developments that contributed to the Downtown District’s resurgence over the past decade.  Jeff Mirkes, Executive Director of Downtown Bay will lead this walking tour of some of the most impressive developments and amenities. The tour includes residential, river-front, corporate, culture and hospitality. This tour is fully a walking tour, please be sure to wear appropriate footwear. 
  • The Railyard District Tour: Join Brian Johnson, Executive Director of On Broadway and Paul Belschner, CEO of Base Companies, LLC for a public and private perspective of this award winning project anchoring The Broadway District.

    The Rail Yard Innovation District includes multiple tech-forward, mixed-use buildings, which are home to 26 thriving businesses, including a popular brewery. The $31 million project, which retained 190 jobs and created 100- new jobs, was financed with private investment secured by tax increment financing and state and federal tax credits. Redevelopment of this site took a strong vision and commitment to a challenging project.

    Limited seating available on the transportation to the Railyard District, but this is a walking tour once participants reach the district. Participants can drive their own vehicles to the Railyard District and join the tour (approximately 5 minute drive).

3:00 PM – Enjoy some down time in Green Bay’s vibrant downtown! Be sure to check your registration bag for information on downtown dining and shopping opportunities. 


4:00 PM – Hotel check-in available at Hotel Northland


5:00 – 7:00 PM – VIP Welcome Reception for Summit Attendees at The Automobile Gallery – Presented by Downtown Green Bay, Inc. & Olde Main Street, Inc.   

We’re returning to The Automobile Gallery for our evening welcome reception to give attendees to mix and mingle over cocktail hour appetizers and a cash bar. Dinner for Tuesday evening is on your own and Downtown Green Bay has a wide variety of downtown dining options within close walking distance to both The Automobile Gallery and the conference hotel, Hotel Northland.

Wednesday, October 16th - Presented by Kwik Trip

Day 2 of the Downtown Summit features is a traditional conference format (keynote speaker, breakout sessions) in Downtown Green Bay’s newest hotel and event space – Hotel Northland. Attendees can expect insightful presentations on issues relevant to downtown and community leaders, as well as opportunities to network and discuss issues they are facing in their respective communities with their peers.

7:00 AM – Registration opens at Hotel Northland

8:00 AM – Breakfast

8:05 AM – Green Bay Welcome from Mayor Eric Genrich, City of Green Bay

8:20 AM – Downtown Summit Welcome and Presentation from WDAC President Mary McPhetridge

8:45 AM – Keynote Speaker Bobby Boone presents “The Role of Place Managers in the Retail Revolution”

Place managers of all sized communities, YOU have a role in the retail revolution. Retail is the fastest changing land use, as consumer behavior dictates the need for brick and mortar space. The retail industry has responded with innovations such as e-commerce, delivery/pick-up service, meal kits and experience-based stores and restaurants, all with the purpose of increasing sales for brands who can keep up.

These conditions have left chronic vacancies and inactive corridors throughout the nation. Every business type, from mom-and-pop stores to the largest national retailers, is closing at record rates. In Wisconsin, this has manifested in communities of all sizes, including chronically vacant general stores, drug store consolidations, and, most recently, the closing of Green Bay-born Shopko locations. At the same time, communities are experiencing an increase in dollar stores, which fill community needs but are often viewed as undesirable. So, how can you participate?

Bobby Boone will discuss how retail can be planned, designed, and activated to meet the needs of today and anticipate those of tomorrow. Using nationwide examples, he will dive into the role that place management organizations play in repositioning their commercial environments, specifically new store formats, successful small business and national retailer tenanting strategies, regulatory amendments, unique marketing and event practices, and streetscape design interventions. Let’s adapt to this retail revolution!

10:00 AM – Coffee Break and Exhibitor Fair – Presented by StartUp Hub and Urban Hub

10:30 AM – Morning Breakout Sessions (Your choice of two options)

Session #1: “The Central Social District” – Presented by Andrew Dane, Neighborhood Partners

Central Business Districts have been synonymous with the term “downtown” because traditionally they were centers of commerce, with high concentrations of retail, office, government agencies, some hotels and one or two formal entertainment venues. Increasingly, however, successful downtowns resemble thriving neighborhoods more than 9 to 5 office environments. Thriving downtowns are now characterized by a strong Central Social District (CSD). This term refers to a rich web of housing, restaurants, drinking holes, and vibrant entertainment niches that include not only venues for formal entertainment such as cinemas, theaters, museums and concert halls, but also lively parks, plazas, and other social gathering areas. Therefore, it is important for downtown leaders to instigate and support efforts which reposition downtown as a thriving neighborhood where people come to gather, celebrate, meet friends, and make new ones. Art venues, libraries, and a myriad of informal entertainment venues are increasingly important components of downtown revitalization because they attract residents and create more vibrant experiences for downtown visitors. But how can these efforts fit into the overall fabric of a downtown, both economically and physically? What other downtown assets can be leveraged and tied into these types of interventions?

This presentation will introduce the concept of the central social district (CSD) and how it can help frame downtown revitalization efforts. The presenter will discuss case studies from a neighborhood in Appleton, WI and Waupaca, WI to illustrate how the CSD concept supports (and increasingly drives) successful downtown economic development.

Session #2: “Lessons Learned from Light Up the Lakeshore” – A panel presentation by Amy Barker and Adam Heindel of Vision Architecture; John Annis of Galbraith Carnahan Architects; and Roger Russove of Two Rivers Main Street

In 2018, the City of Two Rivers and Rawley Point Economic Advising explored ways to encourage redevelopment of many of the priority redevelopment sites that define the community’s downtown and near-downtown neighborhoods. Among the most novel approaches was the launch of the 2018 Light Up the Lakeshore Design Weekend, held on September 20-22. The weekend presented a twist on the traditional design charrette concept by inviting five architecture firms from throughout Wisconsin to present their design concepts for a series of brownfield and redevelopment sites. The weekend also leveraged many of the community’s unique cultural assets such as the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Still Bend and Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum to inspire the design teams and to promote the architectural aesthetic of the community. The concepts presented have attracted significant developer and investor interest and have stimulated projects on two of the sites, to date. Session panelists will discuss the importance of the event and introducing design principles into communities, including a frank discussion of what worked and what did not.

11:30 AM – Lunch – Presented by Rawley Point Economic Advising

12:00 PM – Lunchtime Presentation: “Creative Economy:  Development Strategies for Wisconsin’s Downtowns” – Presented by Anne Katz, Director, Arts Wisconsin & Liz Brodek, Director, East Side BID (Milwaukee)

Creativity.  Imagination.  Innovation. Entrepreneurship.  That’s what Wisconsin needs, and that’s what public art adds to the revitalization of downtowns large and small. This workshop will feature examples of community-based and community-focused public art projects that are changing the narrative about the built environment and quality of life in downtowns throughout the state.

12:45 PM – Roundtable discussions on Downtown Topics

1:45 PM –  Coffee Break and Exhibitor Fair – Presented by the City of Green Bay

2:15 PM – Afternoon Breakout Sessions (Your choice of two options)

Session #1: “Four Case Studies in P-3 Downtown Housing” – Presented by Jason Gilman, City of La Crosse

Cities are facing the serious challenges of labor scarcity, but yet a migration back to urban housing in and around downtown areas. This session will describe through four case studies in La Crosse how cities can work with private developers to create amenity-rich housing in downtown areas in order to revitalize the downtown, create great places and attract and retain talent through various strategies for affordability for a wide range of downtown workers. The four case studies will include:

-Landmark by the River-Re-use of the former Allis Chalmers Plant into a mixed use 62 unit urban apartment project leveraging historic tax credits, WEDC funding and city infrastructure investment-42M project.
-The Hub on 6th, an adaptive re-use of a former County Administrative Office Building into 113 apartments and condominiums hitting affordability targets without public subsidies due to compact and efficient design solutions.
-Belle Square, a $70M 92 unit project assisted with TIF funding for a 650 space parking structure with a “white box” design to front the street with retail.
-A planned mixed use project with a new City fire station, residential apartments and groceries on a 2.5 acre redevelopment of former student housing between downtown and the University of Wisconsin La Crosse campus.

Session #2: “Moving Downtown: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” – A panel presentation by Bridget Krage O’Connor of the O’Connor Connective; Kristen Fish-Peterson of Redevelopment Resources; Garritt Bader of GB Real Estate Investments, LLC; Steve Wille of Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction, Inc. and moderated by Barbara Koldos of Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction, Inc.

The hustle and bustle and variety of downtown. It provides an energy that draws people in, puts a spring in their step, and offers an economic benefit to the community. It’s why there are countless downtown redevelopments and revitalizations happening in cities across the country. Downtown is where the action is and where people (and businesses) want to be! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges for organizations or entrepreneurs as they begin the process of moving downtown. For those tasked with bringing companies to their downtown, this is a presentation you won’t want to miss. Our session is a moderator-led panel discussion featuring representatives from companies that decided it was in the best interest of their firm to be located downtown, or have helped others make the move.

With different perspectives detailing their individual journeys, and those of their clients, our panel members will discuss the challenges in relocating downtown from a remote area. They’ll share insights into why a move downtown was considered the best option, the facility challenges faced (such as adaptive reuse requirements and trying to achieve a proper staging area), the financial struggles dealt with (including TIF requirements), and employee concerns regarding parking, traffic, and more. Sharing valuable lessons learned, our panel members will detail their experiences working with local governments entities and the struggles of navigating their unique approval processes. Their stories will inform you as you strive to make the move downtown easier for any businesses considering such a relocation.

3:15 PM – 2020 Walk Audit Community Announcements and Door Prize Giveaways 

4:00 PM – Conference Close