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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Franklin is a retail sieve

Local government meetings conducted during the dog days of summer generally aren’t very interesting. That was not the case at this past Tuesday’s Franklin Common Council meeting as the mayor and aldermen got an earful. It came during the usually quiet and often predictable opening citizen’s comment period.

A member of  Franklin’s Economic Development Commission, Craig Haskins said he was able to secure a report from Milwaukee County’s Economic Development Director Teig Whaley-Smith about retail leakage in the Franklin. I consider the findings stunning and the quintessential wake-up call.

“Fifty percent of every dollar spent on food and beverage in Franklin is spent outside of Franklin,” said Haskins. “Ninety-two percent of every clothing purchase is spent outside of Franklin. This is by Franklin residents.

“Any home furnishings, between 43% and 53% (are spent outside of Franklin). These are some dollars Franklin is missing,” said Haskins.

Information Haskins said he received from both the Buxton Company that deals with business analytics and Milwaukee County indicates “Franklin residents spend about $500-million a tear on retail, food, and trade. Only about half of that is spent within the city of Franklin.”

Former Franklin Mayor Fred Klimetz advised the aldermen to be open-minded.

“I’m going to encourage everyone on the Council not to have tunnel vision and not to say we’re going to focus solely on retail and we’re not going to consider other options,” said Klimetz, who added that included an approach that only looked at a business park.

Another former mayor, Tom Taylor concurred with Klimetz.

“Don’t close the door,” said Taylor. “Look at everything. Yes, a business park is need, perhaps three of them. But you also have to bring in retail. You have to do everything to try to hold down the price of taxes.”

Steve Olson, Franklin’s current mayor is an advocate for a business park. Former Franklin alderman, now Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor who lost to Olson in April’s mayoral election had a cautionary note for his past colleagues on the Council.

“What I’m not hearing is we want another business park. Don’t let him (Olson) push you down a path you do not want to go.”

During his commentary, Tom Taylor reiterated his support for a minor league stadium pushed by The Rock earlier this year. The Franklin Common Council quickly rejected The Rock proposal after emerging from a closed session back in April. Mike Zimmerman of The Rock said ever since he’s been waiting for an alternative from city leaders.

“One-hundred twenty days have gone by and I hear no strategy. No movement,” said Zimmerman. “At what point is this group going to say ‘this is our strategy, this is what we’re going to be doing in terms of retail’.”

Amen.

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