Development group to seek business partners

A Sauk County business group plans to seek more involvement and sponsorship from the private sector as a means of boosting its resources and effectiveness.

“The real big step that we’re taking is we’re forging ahead, remaking the Sauk County Development Corporation into a public-private sponsored organization,” SCDC Board President Roger Friede Jr. said about the group, which has historically been sponsored by local government entities.

“We’re recognizing that in order to achieve our mission of promoting economic development, we need a stronger voice from the private side of things rather than the government side.”

Last year the villages of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac opted not to renew their memberships with SCDC. Officials in those communities cited budget concerns, as well as criticisms about the organization’s effectiveness in bringing businesses to the area.

Following months of discussion, SCDC leaders have opted to develop a task force comprised of representatives from the private sector and current board members that will craft the organization’s future business model. They also have developed a plan to collaborate with area school entities and the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin to help train the future workforce.

Friede said he is excited about the upcoming Fall Leadership Forum, an annual event hosted by SCDC that this year will focus on how to attract and retain Millennials within the community. The forum is slated to take place Nov. 19.

SCDC has yet to hire a new executive director since the departure of Jim Allen roughly a year ago. Friede said a new executive director likely will not be hired until the new public-private business model takes shape, so that business sponsors can have a say in the hiring process.

“We want to listen to our private business partners in terms of what skills they’re looking for in a director,” Friede said.

He said he is optimistic that if SCDC can begin to demonstrate its worth, Sauk Prairie leaders will again see value in renewing their memberships with the organization.

Budget writers from both local government entities will begin crafting their 2016 budgets in the coming weeks.

“While the Village Board has received regular updates on the status of SCDC, the Village Board has not had formal discussion on the possibility of rejoining SCDC,” Village of Prairie du Sac Administrator Alan Wildman said.

Wildman said he expects a preliminary discussion to take place at the board’s Sept. 22 meeting to discuss the 2016 budget.

At least one member of the Sauk City Village Board said he is not convinced that the organization has earned back the support of the community.

“I am particularly not interested,” said Sauk City Village Board President James Anderson. “It’s like anything else. It just looks like more of the same to me.”

He said even with a smaller entry fee, he does not believe that the expense would benefit the Sauk Prairie community.

SCDC also recently ditched its former website format after receiving feedback that the site was outdated and difficult to navigate. The organization now has a temporary presence on the Sauk County government website. The site still can be reached by visiting www.scdc.com. A new website will be developed in the future, SCDC leaders say.

Development group to seek business partners