Despite the tanking economy, Shorewood’s business potential is unusually good, Jim Plaisted, executive director of the Shorewood Business Improvement District, says.
“The way Shorewood has positioned itself, there aren’t many examples like that (in the city),” he said. “There’s a lot of people jealous of our resources, especially since the economy tanked. Shorewood hasn’t shied away from its goals.”
And, Plaisted, director since 2006 and executive director of the East Side BID since 1999, hasn't shied away from working toward a thriving business district in Shorewood.
Like it says on Plaisted’s business card, Shorewood’s at the edge of the city and the heart of everything. But Shorewood is a land-locked community; there isn’t space for new property. The goal of the BID is to increase property value, leading to more resources for the village and less residential pressure.
In 2006, Plaisted and the Village of Shorewood went through the ‘master plan’ for Shorewood and repositioned goals for the commerical district, he said.
“Literally, day by day, we work to accomplish those goals,” he said.
Plaisted said the rewarding part of his job is the physical legacy it leaves behind; the most recent example is the Cornerstone development with 24 luxury apartments and four retailers.
“If I walk away for 15 years, I can come back and see (the businesses) still there,” he said. “The little things (the BID) can do to open the door help build that legacy.”
Plaisted works with residents, multiple levels of government and more than 250 businesses, always with a master plan in mind: to help Shorewood businesses thrive.
He also has a hand in the marketing aspect, working from the front end on the bike race, art events, and this month’s social commerce seminar where business leaders will discuss experiences.
“It’s interesting to work with businesses on a daily basis," he said. "I’m starting to get a sixth sense, when people have an idea for a business, whether or not it will be successful."
Plaisted gives business owners the direction and guidance they need, saying whatever they need, we'll support them.
Plaisted grew up in Whitefish Bay and lived in Milwaukee while working for the city as a legislative aid for ten years. Now, he’s settled in Wauwatosa with his wife and two sons.
He says living outside of Shorewood gives him an opportunity to have a separate home life.
“I can separate myself from parochial issues,” said Plaisted, explaining that he can look at Shorewood from a bird’s eye view and figure out what’s good for the community. “It gives me an independent voice.”
Plaisted said his family is the biggest influence in his life. He and his sons share a love of sports, particularly baseball and volleyball. Plaisted is the coach of the North Central Little League, co-founded and directed the North Shore Volleyball club for almost 10 years and is the director of the Milwaukee Bombers baseball club.
“I love coaching kids,” he said.
His coaching style is tough love he added.
“I push them as far as they can be pushed.”
But when he yells, he says he’s just trying to make a point in a loud gym. He’s friends with guys he coached years ago. He coaches his sons, which is a different challenge.
“There are some bad father-coach relationships. My sons have been good with it,” he said. “They wouldn’t want anyone else to coach.”
While coaching at Nicolet, Plaisted came to appreciate communities at a family level.
“It opened my eyes watching families nurture their kids,” he said.
“I wanted to change the world when I was younger. I started looking for ways to make change,” Plaisted said.
And, he does make change, at a local, hands-on level — trickling down from Shorewood businesses to Shorewood families.