The Economic Development Chapter of the Smart Growth Comprehensive Plan outlines Evansville's goals for new business development that enhances the quality of life and capitalizes on the varied and highly qualified work force. Businesses and industries that locate in the City should:
Existing businesses should continue to be encouraged to remain in Evansville. Coordination with the Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations to work with and frequently meet with business owners should continue.
Given Evansville’s rural location between major metropolitan areas, businesses that serve agricultural uses can capitalize on the agricultural land around Evansville. Numerous agriculture-related businesses already exist in Evansville, demonstrating an opportunity for complementary businesses. Examples of these include processing facilities and agriculture supporting biotech facilities.
Entrepreneurial businesses can take many forms, including microbreweries, custom furniture, retail establishments, technology start-ups and many others. Thriving entrepreneurship will lead to a diverse economy that provides economic resilience and an active and vibrant business environment. An existing example in Evansville is a hops analysis lab that analyzes the properties of hops for breweries across the country.
Many communities across Wisconsin share the desire to attract professional, educational and technical companies, such as software consulting firms and software developers, because businesses like these don’t rely as heavily on proximity to major roadways and rail lines. A current example in Evansville is XRG Analytics, an international renewable energy consulting business. To be successful at attracting these types of companies, the City of Evansville will need to promote its central location and the numerous factors that contribute to the City’s quality of life. For example, the City needs to make potential new businesses aware of the high-quality educational experience available to students enrolled in the Evansville Community School District. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s District Report Card for the Evansville Community School District demonstrates that the school district exceeds performance expectations for a variety of metrics. (Student achievement, student achievement growth, progress in closing performance gaps between subgroups, postsecondary readiness, test participation rates, absenteeism rates, and dropout rates.) Additional characteristics, which should be promoted to attract professional, educational and technical companies, are Evansville’s low median age (similar to that of Dane County), and close proximity to the cultural amenities in Madison, while having a considerably lower cost of living.
To be successful, these ventures will require a unique merchandise selection based on local market demand. Otherwise, potential customers will continue to patronize choices available in nearby communities, including “big box” discount retail stores. Since families and homeowners dominate the local market, potential businesses may include bookstores, music stores, furniture stores, craft/quilt shops, hardware stores, clothing, household goods, etc.
The Allen Creek & North Union Street Redevelopment Master Plan identified population thresholds for various types of businesses, which can be used to identify potential business opportunities in the area. To expand the potential customer base, local retail establishments will also need to adapt their strategies to accommodate the large number of residents that leave Evansville during the day, market to surrounding communities and capitalize on the potential the internet provides.
Service businesses (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream parlors, grocery stores, and real estate office development) are also desired in the downtown and along USH 14. These businesses, like retail choices, should seek to capitalize on the local family market and high percentage of homeowners. Potential businesses might include food (i.e. bakery, winery, and pizzeria), movie theaters, accounting and insurance services, interior decorators, and the like. Bed and breakfast establishments are also desired to meet the growing need for local accommodations and to serve non-motorized tourists using regional trails, and scenic county and town roads.
Industries are desired to provide quality jobs to local residents. Ideally, industries would capitalize on the City’s central location, high quality of life, agriculturally oriented surroundings, skilled workers, and access to the railroad.
Home occupations are desired in the City. Home occupations often allow professionals to provide services using the internet. Home occupations can also provide a way for entrepreneurs to start a business without making large initial capital investments that are sometimes needed to secure a space.
Within new residential subdivisions, the potential exists to establish areas for neighborhood commercial development (e.g. daycare centers, convenience stores, dentist offices, etc.) that would contribute to the creation of walkable neighborhoods as discussed in the Transportation Element. These types of businesses already exist in many of the established areas of the City.