Shorewood’s Business Advantage

Jim Plaisted, Shorewood BID director and family man, says the village's business potential is envied.

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.

CowDung May 05, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Obviously, we already have good schools. We also have property taxes that are very high. I would love to see a way to get property tax relief without sacrificing the quality of our schools. We can't build too many more houses in the village to increase the property tax levee--the way to increase revenues is to bring in new businesses.
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 03:24 PM
If my property taxes are not sufficient to fund a world-class, humanities-rich school, then they are too low and should be raised in the interest of our children and the community.
Jory Pradjinski May 05, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Adding businesses is a way to build tax revenue, if it's done right and not shoved on residents like the proposed 6 story joke or trying to make Shorewood into a Mini-Bayshore. Shorewood is Shorewood and yes, sometimes you can't make a silk purse without the proper materials (and you see that I did not call Shorewood a sow's ear because it is not one). Quality of education is not weighed, nor should it be, on the amount of money a school district has to piss it away (pardon my French). School budgets vs tax revenue will have an ever increasing gap and until government stops spending like a drunken sailor it won't make a tinker's damn how many towers are built in Shorewood, the school district will always say they need more money, we need a bigger and better football field (have they won more games?) and bigger and better baseball fields and bigger and better who knows what. You can't throw money at a problem hoping it gets better.
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 03:48 PM
"You can't throw money at a problem hoping it gets better." Non-sensical. Years of cuts in schools funding do not suggest a spending orgy, quite the opposite. Every good businessperson, thinking about innovation and modernization, knows that you can't improve what you don't fund.
CowDung May 05, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Apparently you are one of the few residents of Shorewood with an infinite income... The rest of us would like to keep some of our money to spend on things like food, heat, clothing, etc.
CowDung May 05, 2011 at 03:51 PM
...and personally, I'd rather have a world class, science-rich school.
CowDung May 05, 2011 at 03:55 PM
...but improvements can be made by taking a good look at what that money is actually funding and redirecting it as appropriate.
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 04:00 PM
I'd be happy to engage in a constructive discussion with you about Science and income levels, CowDung, but I won't continue until you can show that your (apparently inadequate) income doesn't derive from tea party sources (like your talking points do). Until your actual name appears here, you, and your comments, can't be taken seriously. The debate is: is Shorewood attractive because of schools, or because Plaisted's groups funds are going to storefronts? It's a safe bet that a solid majority supports the latter, as evidenced by the passed referendum. Schools must be our priority in tough times. Over and out. N. Hayes, Shorewood Resident and CowDung skeptic.
CowDung May 05, 2011 at 05:25 PM
I didn't realize that the Shorewood business district was a 'Tea Party' topic... Considering the atmosphere of death threats, recall efforts, boycotts of businesses and general overreaction to the Walker proposals, I'd rather stay as anonymous as possible. I don't want any crazed people doing bad things to me, my kids, or my property... I guess I don't understand how my position of bringing more businesses into Shorewood contradicts the idea that we should want to have high quality schools.
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Actually, I've never been a union member. I vote independent. I own a growing, long-standing mid-sized professional services business that was forced to decide against an large investment in Shorewood real estate because we couldn't promise new recruits that the school system could stay healthy. But if you're willing to say I'm among the elite, I'll take it.
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Joe, I've made my case. Invest in schools and the community will thrive. It's always the starting point.
CowDung May 05, 2011 at 06:33 PM
I am curious to hear why there was reason to believe that the school system could not stay healthy. Have things really been declining so rapidly that you are giving up on our school system? If you don't believe that the school system will stay healthy, why are you still living in Shorewood (assuming that you have school aged kids)?
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 07:01 PM
""A businessman of your stature should understand that increased spending (higher taxes) in the face of declining demand (falling resident student population) is a recipe for failure." Of course, this assumes that we're not smart enough to see value. Residents and prospective residents often elect to pay higher taxes for the benefits of better services. We chose Shorewood because we saw the facts: 90% college graduation rate from its alumni (Ivy-league pre-college performance) for nominally higher taxes. Since we couldn't afford University School, we decided to invest in Shorewood, which, of course, had the demand effect of raising everyone's home values (at the time.) Taxes are an attraction when they are well used for great schools, as they have been in Shorewood. The anti-tax cult has us arguing over pittances. Without great schools, you can't have a great military, a dynamic market, new technology or improvements in quality of life. It's the first thing. As I said at the beginning, I'd like to see investments in facade, where they don't matter, made instead on something that will actually return.
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Look me up in the book and we can chat about it over coffee one day. Good day.
CowDung May 05, 2011 at 07:38 PM
I would also think that a 'growing, long-standing mid-sized professional services business' would add considerably to the Shorewood tax base and be an investment in the success of the Shorewood schools. Sounds like a plan that would please those of us that don't want big property tax increases every year and would please those of us that want to maintain our quality public schools...
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Joe, we are not throwing money at our schools. We are ten years into the act of suffocating them. Check the budgets.
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 08:44 PM
I'll bring my receipts, you bring yours. And I'll bring the school's budget, which is what's in question. Alterra?
Nick Hayes May 05, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Joe, You sound like a serious, thoughtful guy too. And I'm sure we'd find common ground over coffee. But demographic trends do not support consolidation. 27% of US citizens are under 17, the biggest group. And enrollment is climbing here, starting with the current SIS class because, inclusive of just-above-average tax rates, Shorewood remains an affordable place for middle class families, especially those who work in the city. Among many other benefits, it enables the one car, or even the no car lifestyle. A great way to get more from an hour and a dollar. We do not have a supply problem. We have the problem of myopia. Market forces will not work in education reform and nor will "consolidation", which is dilutive. http://sanitychek.blogspot.com/2011/04/gaming-schools.html On the issue of accounting gimmickry, I'm certain that there has been much of it, and it should be addressed. But on the whole, it is easy to show that a committee is attractive when its schools are excellent, and it is unattractive when they're stressed.
Nick Hayes May 06, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Joe, Your suggestions aren't solutions, they're band-aids. The fact is that families don't choose communities for their strip malls, they choose them for their schools. I'm thrilled to be able to walk to and support local businesses like Alterra and City Market. But truly being pro-business means first being pro-school. For this reason alone I would suggest that Plaisted's group turn and spend lavishly on the schools. And if my business has reason to join the group, this is what we will suggest.
Jory Pradjinski May 06, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Nick, Every good business person knows that there are things which can be improved without spending money on it. A good business person is not going to throw money hoping their problems are solved. Shorewood school district, like so many others, does not spend wisely which is likely part of the reason public schools do not teach simple things like personal financial management - balancing a checkbook; understanding that accepting numerous pre-approved credit card offers will end them up in financial trouble (remember the thousands of college students). There are many things that can be improved within the school district before giving those drunken sailors another dime. Teachers need to be held accountable for their performance, if they don't perform to solid standards then out they go and get in someone who will. Any intelligent business person does the same thing, I never held on to an employee who was not performing to the given standards. I also did what I could to help those employees understand what was being asked of them and what they needed to work on. Perhaps that's something you've never heard about before since you feel that Shorewood schools will only perform better based on the amount of money dumped upon it. The only spent was time and that's a lot of what needs to be spent within this school district.
Nick Hayes May 06, 2011 at 04:07 PM
BS. If a school can promise a 90% college graduation rate for alumni, it has spent well. Of course things can be continuously improved and they should be. As a businessman, I trust my managers to make good decisions to move toward new goals. Let's ask the principals and the teachers what they think. If they ask for more money for lower class sizes, or better teaching tools, lets give it to them. We all get rich when education is the focus of our collective investment. I'm done here. See you at Alterra. That is, if you actually live here, and are not a Tea Party plant, which I suspect must be the case.
Jory Pradjinski May 06, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Nick: I'm reading your, http://sanitychek.blogspot.com/2011/04/gaming-schools.html, and can only say it's a sad read that will cost today's students since you don't believe in merit pay and you use the same damaging dialog right from WEAC's playbook. You're a business owner, okay, so you're telling me that if you have 2 workers performing the same task with one always early to work, stays late whenever necessary and is meticulous is his work should not be compensated differently from his co-worker who tends to be late to work, does sloppy work with some of his work needing to be redone and does less work per week doing the same as the first guy? That is exactly what you are saying regarding teachers. Sure, you used the same WEAC slant "many want to reward individual teachers based on the test scores of their students", but test scores Nick do not the quality student make. "Merit pay drives a wedge between the real world and the teaching world (I don't think anyone wants to make teachers compete against some "real world" employee) by pitting teachers against each other, so the deep learning never has a chance to start." This one sentence shows the warped sense of logic from your side of the table. "Pitting teachers against each other" is a fools statement because it's creates anger that doesn't exist. I want teachers who want the challenge to improve their performance and this should, when done right, create some good, solid positive peer pressure.
Jory Pradjinski May 06, 2011 at 04:36 PM
You probably also support doing away with test scores and grades because they make little Johnny feel bad about himself, and school should be a fantasy world where everyone holds hands and sings cum-bye-ya. Funny thing happens though when they hit the real world and find out they will need to compete, not to the death, but just because little Janey presents a pretty and sparkly resume and her teeth are whitened and she wearing the latest fashion, doesn't mean she gets the job. Wham! "Mommy, daddy, they hate me, they say I'm not nice and pretty and special." As for the teachers, I don't want one in any classroom who does a lousy job. A few years back WEAC ran some incredibly stupid ads with Ed Asner saying that every kid deserves a great school. No, every kid deserves a great education, there is a huge difference. You stated in your bloggie thing "The best schools mirror the real world model; they are cooperative teams of interdisciplinary specialists who tag-team, back each other up and who marry lessons contextually and experientially." I acknowledge your description of "real world model" however, in that model there is still competition between departments to do their part of the project as good as possible. Within each department, depending on it's size and make-up, there is still competition, again of performing well. If one of those cogs starts to perform poorly measures are taken to motivate, evaluate and if necessary replace a person or persons.
Nick Hayes May 06, 2011 at 04:41 PM
You, Joe, have a world view that is narrow and sad and uninventive. See you at Alterra.
Jory Pradjinski May 06, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Nick, if you are such a wonderful businessman and good world views then how about filtering what comes out of your mouth when someone says something you don't like. In your view money is the only way to solve a problem. "Despite most spending-per-pupil in Midwest, 66% of Wisconsin 8th graders can't read proficiently, according to the U.S. Department of Education Published 02/22/2011". That's the problem and glaring example that money spent does not equal a higher quality of education. I'm glad that your company is healthy enough for you to let it spend money on whatever your people want. It sounds like your company wouldn't shop for the best price for new equipment, technology or whatever example best fits. However, with a school just because there's a laptop for every child it doesn't mean every child's grade will automatically go up. Just because each child has brand new text books each year instead of reusing the old yet still current books, it does not mean their grades will automatically go up. I agree that teacher input is part of the equation, however, weighing out costs will help that dollar figure per student be better spent - and then that could be taught to the kids. However, to many of today's parents try to buy their children's love by buying the latest TV, computer, smart phone, IPad, IBook and so many other things that their kids grow up thinking spending money always makes things better. Where and how did you grow up Nick?
Jory Pradjinski May 06, 2011 at 06:19 PM
Joe: Wow! Thank you for your kind words. After 12 years as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts I had to give it up last year due to my escalating physical problems. I was diagnosis-ed with nerve damage from scar tissue from my numerous back surgeries in 2006 in addition to lots of muscular problems, and had to stop working in 2008. I was blessed to be able to work with Scouting all over Milw Co over those years and am able to help out here and there. I still enjoy watching the kids play on the Lake Bluff playground equipment as I was a part of the group that did the fundraising back in 1996 (if memory serves me) to replace the old. Over the years I've met many great friends. Thanks again your your message, it means a lot.
CowDung May 09, 2011 at 01:02 AM
What is your obsession with "Tea Party plants"? Do you really think that the 'Tea Party' is really so diverse in their focus that they are trolling websites like this to bicker about individual school district budgets?
Jory Pradjinski May 11, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Joe, will you be at this evening's open house regarding the tower shell game? It would be a great time for those who understand the problems of the tax districts and how long it will likely take before homeowners see any "relief". I plan on pushing the traffic problems, height, truck traffic and other things that the developer hopes no one will notice.
Jory Pradjinski May 12, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Joe: You make some valid points and I agree. From what I saw at last night's open house meeting about this project people do not understand what all is going on and the affects it will have. Plus, there's the people who think any new construction proposed by the village is "wonderful and the village board is so thoughtful to make this happen". These people sit awe struck listening to the developer, the architect, etc and I wonder when they will bow to kiss their feet for bestowing such greatness. As for the money side, the people only hear "increase the tax base", "increase activity and vitality", "increase walkability" (this one alone is such a joke but people are in love with it). I love the fact that since this project is being talked about people suddenly agree that walking past a surface parking lot is horrible and they praise the developer, etc for opening their eyes to the evils of parking lots being seen from Oakland Ave. Individual thought is becoming a thing of the past. Add in "increasing school enrollment" and "extension of our walkable community" and the people are asking where to buy t-shirts, bumper stickers and whatever else. One guy asked a good question, why Mandel and did the village get anything from another developer. The answers were that Mandel is an award winning developer, the CDA can walk on water and the architect is the best in the world (or somewhat close to that). Guess one shouldn't question greatness, this thing still smells.
Jory Pradjinski May 12, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Forgot to add that Mandel touts themselves as a "green builder" and was awarded the Business Journal's Green Builder of the Year (Residential). So of course this is a hotter topic around here then "walkability". On Mandel's website they talk about actually basic things which are easy enough for any builder to do, nothing fancy, just getting "Green" connected to their name. The interesting thing which most people wouldn't know unless they've perused "green" is Mandel doesn't talk about doing any LEED, "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" certified projects. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000 and is the hallmark of "green building". There's a building on hwy 100 at I believe Watertown Plank Rd, southeast corner, which is a LEED certified building and will have a plaque displayed, probably in the lobby. Before I had to stop working I had been at an exhibit building company and set up a "green" system for them. It was also at the time that the exhibit industry began focusing on becoming green. I was fortunate to assist on the industry level committee within exhibiting to establish green guidelines which were in-line with LEED's parameters. I even was invited to speak as part of a panel at an exhibit industry show and forum in Florida. It was fun, and humbling, to be asked to contribute in what was changing the face of an industry. So, if Mandel really is a "green builder" I'd like to see them working with LEED.


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