May 5, 2009

RCEDC wants your ideas about shopping

Thinking back to the mayoral campaign, to how very often the words RCEDC were brought up by one candidate or another -- in favorable context only -- we have to wonder about this ... um, shopping survey.

Yes, the Racine County Economic Development Corporation wants you to tell it about your shopping habits: "If you have some ideas about improving downtown Union Grove, downtown Waterford, Douglas Avenue in the Village of Caledonia or West Racine, your opportunity to share them has arrived," Kristin Niemiec, RCEDC's community development manager writes.

"For the next two weeks" -- not even; only until May 15 actually -- "the Racine County Economic Development Corporation will be conducting an online survey to learn more about how and where county residents shop -- and about how they would like to improve these specific commercial districts in the county. The survey is part of a study to identify strategies to strengthen the county's commercial districts and develop new, complementary businesses."

"Everyone is invited to complete the survey for the area in which you live and/or shop," the press release adds. So quick, go online at the following websites and take the survey.
For Union Grove
For Waterford
For Douglas Avenue/Caledonia
For West Racine
The one-page online surveys are all the same: demographic data like where do you live, how much do you earn ("$150,000 and over," anyone?); where do you shop for a list of products like clothing, hardware, antiques, gifts, fine dining and video rentals; how do you rate your commercial district's cleanliness, merchant helpfulness, safety, sidewalks, shopping hours and the like; and three open-ended questions seeking what you like best and least about your shopping district, and what kinds of new businesses you'd like. (No mention of a Sixth Street liquor store... wrong geographic area, no doubt.)

Only one retail chain is mentioned on all of the various surveys: Wal-Mart/Sam's Club. We're not sure what that means.

The survey is being conducted by the CLUE Group, of Arlington, VA, whose website says that stands for Community Land Use and Economics, and defines itself as "a specialized consulting firm that helps communities create vibrant, dynamic downtowns and neighborhoods. We help local and state governments, developers and nonprofits design innovative downtown economic development strategies, cultivate independent businesses, recycle historic buildings, attract young talent, strengthen downtown management programs, and craft planning and land use tools that mitigate sprawl and stimulate town center development."

Each page of its website is headed by an enigmatic quote. Like:
"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see."
-- Winston Churchill
"Any town that doesn't have sidewalks doesn't love its children."
-- Margaret Mead
Actually, there are two quotes by Churchill, and two promoting sidewalks. But nothing else about Wal-Mart. Or about Racine's Sam's Club, which you do know is moving to Pleasant Prairie, right?

In any case, let's end this with a famous quote by Cynthia Nelms: "If men liked shopping, they'd call it research." Anyone up for a trip to Sam's Club? (After you fill out your survey, of course!)


  1. How about bring companies like those found at Windpower 09 just about 75 miles away? Or are those the wrong kind of jobs?

  2. Colt - do you have a link you can share on this? More info?

    I disagree with a lot of your opinions but this is an area I think both sides can come together on.

    Let''s hear your ideas on this.

  3. And btw - these research companies are a huge waste of time and money. Generally you can find pretty competent people around the office that could accomplish the same result, but maybe not have as nice of a powerpoint in the end.

    If you're really serious about this, get people out on the streets observing, do focus groups in the neighborhoods, purchase cheap online survey tools and create your own, etc, etc

    This whole "hire a consultant" thing is an easy way to spend money, get a plan nobody uses, and essentially pass the buck. You don't need one of these companies, you need a common sense plan.

    Get volunteers!

  4. The page for the event. the group of Northen Wisconsin counties who has seen what Wind Power might do for their area and are acting on it.

    Too late for Wind Power 09 but there are so many other things we could be doing how about a Supply Chain event trying to place manufacturers with companies that might need things built? This company went to Michigan with 30 jobs to start soon to be 120 jobs Why not Wisconsin? Why not Racine Maybe someone at RCEDC needs to care.

  5. Maybe what we need is another RCEDC closed-door secret meeting out-of-town with our new mayor to figure out what Racine needs and to cut some clandestine deals with him. Based on his background, he go for that.

  6. 11:14 my guess is that all ready happened

  7. Question? Did the company doing the survey bid on the contract or was it a no bid special

  8. The trouble with these researches (who are they and how were they selected...and most of all are they getting PAID?) is that if they come up with opinions the powers that be decide what they want anyways. And the only people who answer these questions are bloggers, internet savy, those with a lot of time on their hands. It usually is not the 'general public'.

  9. RCEDC...what a useless bunch.

    Mayor Dickert - you could save some money here.