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Position Statements

Forward Janesville's official position on critical issues

Forward Janesville Urges TIF Preservation

The organization sent the following letter to state legislators on October 31, 2019. 

We are writing to urge you to oppose LRB-4515, which will cap developer incentives for projects in tax incremental financing (TIF) districts.

Tax incremental financing is the only consistently reliable financial incentive tool available to local communities to promote economic growth and job creation.
  The 20 percent cap on developer incentives proposed by LRB-4515 will restrict local control and the flexibility needed by municipalities to take advantage of economic opportunities. 

Many past projects would not have occurred if this legislation was in force, and it will prevent untold numbers of future projects.
  For example, the Janesville City Council recently approved the creation of a TID district to aid in the construction of Diamond Ridge, a badly needed 115-unit multifamily development.  This TID provides a significant financing component of the project, and the 20 Percent cap would have prevented the project from moving forward.  Taking the Diamond Ridge project off the table would have further exacerbated Janesville’s housing shortage, thereby threatening our recent economic renaissance.

LRB-4515 will severely limit the effectiveness of TIF, as it will prevent municipalities from providing developer incentives and gap financing that are often required to close deals.
  Further, it would create a “one-size-fits-all” approach to local economic development that would restrict flexibility and creativity at the municipal level.

The proposal will significantly diminish the value of TIF, prevent key economic development projects across the state, and put Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage.
  We urge you to oppose this misguided legislation.

Forward Janesville Endorses 2019 Milton School Referendum

Forward Janesville has endorsed the School District of Milton’s capital facilities referendums, which will appear on the April 2, 2019 election ballot.

Forward Janesville, a 500-plus member economic development association and chamber of commerce representing businesses in Janesville, Rock County, and throughout southern Wisconsin, has endorsed the School District of Milton’s April 2 referendum.

This $59.9 million capital facilities referendum, which is designed to address the district’s instructional and facility needs, includes proposed improvements that will take students out of the basement at Milton East Elementary and out of closets that have been converted into classrooms in several schools due to limited space and overcrowding.  The referendum also seeks to improve safety and security and ADA accessibility in all Milton schools, and replaces the high school’s failing pool.  The 2019 referendum would have an estimated tax impact of $164 for each $100,000 of property value. 

Over the past 15 years, the Milton School District’s enrollment has grown by more than 22 percent, yet the district’s aging infrastructure cannot keep up with this growth.  Every Milton school building (with the exception of Northside Intermediate) was built in the 1950s or the 1960s.  Making this strategic investment now will save money in the long run, as deferred and delayed maintenance costs will continue to add up.  We encourage voters to boldly invest in the next 50 years of education in Milton—just as the residents of the prior era did.

One of Forward Janesville’s missions as an organization is to promote strong local educational institutions.  We believe that now is the right time to proceed with this long overdue referendum.  This initiative will not only strengthen Rock County’s school infrastructure, but will provide solid footing to educate the workers that area businesses need to grow and prosper. 

Forward Janesville supports this referendum because we support the growth of the entire region.  All the region’s great school districts make Rock County and southern Wisconsin more attractive place to live and work.  Great schools are a complement to our organization’s economic development efforts, as quality educational infrastructure is often a key component in business site selection and/or expansion decisions.  Upgrading Milton’s school infrastructure will be another arrow in Rock County’s economic development quiver.

Forward Janesville believes that this referendum strikes a reasonable balance between the long term educational and facility needs of the district and the property tax impact to the community.  Better schools mean stronger communities, and we encourage voters to support the Milton School District facilities referendum on April 2.

Forward Janesville Supports "Opportunity Zone" Designations for Janesville

Here is a copy of a letter sent to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on March 6, 2018.

We are writing to ask for you to designate two low income census tracts in the City of Janesville—Tract 10 and Tract 14—as Opportunity Zones, as established by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act established the Opportunity Zone program, which will spur private investment in designated low-income community census tracts.
  This program will allow taxpayers to defer and reduce otherwise taxable capital gains if such funds are reinvested in qualified businesses or properties located in Opportunity Zones.  Further, the legislation authorizes the creation of Qualified Opportunity Funds that must invest 90 percent of their assets in qualified business property in Qualified Opportunity Zones.  Each state’s governor may designate up to 25 percent of its low-income census tracts as Opportunity Zones; this designation is due to the U.S. Treasury Department by March 21, 2018.

As you know, the 2008 closure of Janesville’s General Motors Assembly Plant was a huge blow to Rock County’s economy.
  However, thanks to proactive public and private sector action and considerable help from the state of Wisconsin, our economy has rallied.  We believe that this Opportunity Zone designation will help complete Rock County’s economic comeback, as it will help with the redevelopment and reuse of the 300-acre GM site, which was recently purchased by Commercial Development Company of St. Louis.

The Opportunity Zone designation will also help the development of Shine Medical Technologies, an innovative startup company that has the potential to be an overnight game changer for Rock County’s economy.
  Shine will soon begin construction of a permanent facility on Janesville’s south side, and an Opportunity Zone designation would almost certainly help accelerate the process, which would lead to the creation of dozens of high-quality, family supporting jobs.

Again, we urge you to designate Janesville’s Census Tracts 10 and 14 as Opportunity Zones.
  Thank you for your consideration.

Forward Janesville Supports Removal of Monterey Dam

After careful consideration, the Forward Janesville Board of Directors has voted to support the removal of the Monterey Dam on the Rock River.

Removal of the dam will likely lead to changes in the river’s shoreline, particularly near the current Monterey Bay area.  If the dam is removed, we must ensure that the new shoreline area becomes a community asset.  We believe that funds for a first-class shoreline restoration (such as the rendering completed by the city’s consultant, Interfluve) should be in place before the dam is removed.  

Given our ongoing interest in the ARISE downtown redevelopment plan, we also carefully considered projections about changes in the river’s water level after removal.  While it is impossible to know exactly how water levels will change after the dam is removed, we are comfortable with Interfluve’s projections.

While the concerns discussed above are valid and warrant continued discussion, they do not change the fact that removal of the Monterey Dam is the best decision for city.  Removal of the dam will return the river to its natural state; will increase recreation opportunities and river engagement; will improve water quality; and could create a tremendous community asset when the new shoreline emerges.  Removal is also the wisest fiscal decision for the city, as the dam will almost certainly continue to need costly repairs throughout its lifespan.

Therefore, we support removal of the Monterey Dam, and encourage the city council to vote for removal at the March 27, 2017 council meeting.