FWHP Begins Study to Evaluate Economic Revitalization
The FWHP Board hired a firm, Economic Development Partners, from Verona, Wisconsin, this week to begin work on an Economic Impact Plan for the Parkway region. This plan will evaluate the economic development opportunities relating to regional heritage, culture and recreational assets throughout the Fox-Wisconsin River corridor.
Completion of the study will take one-year, and will determine the specific economic priorities and strategies of the FWHP for the next five years.
The plan will evaluate and make recommendations in the following key areas:
- Economic impact of tourism within the Parkway
- Heritage tourism opportunities of existing and potential resources
- Economic revitalization and development opportunities of existing and potential businesses
- Strategies for taking advantage of identified economic opportunities, including new site development, adaptive reuse of existing sites, experiential development and historic and cultural preservation enhancement
The FWHP is seeking significant grassroots participation and input from the forty-five communities located within the Parkway region along the Fox and Lower Wisconsin rivers, from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien.
“Development of this plan will present the concrete economic potential for the Fox and Wisconsin River communities which are banding together to become partners in the Parkway,” says Candice Mortara, FWHP President. “This study will provide these communities with a strategic roadmap to complement and enhance their own heritage and recreational tourism efforts. We have many underutilized resources along the Fox and Wisconsin that could result in significant economic growth.”
According to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, communities that invest in heritage tourism experience numerous benefits, including increase in community pride, new business and growth opportunities, job creation and higher wages for residents of the region. On average tourists seeking out cultural experiences, spend 73% more than the non-heritage traveler.
This plan is part of the FWHP’s ongoing effort to obtain a National Heritage Area designation through the National Park Service. Development of the Economic Impact Plan coincides with an Interpretive Master Plan, already in progress, which evaluates the status of cultural resources throughout the region.
John Forster, former president of the Friends of the Fox organization and founder of the original Parkway concept stated of the plan, “After decades of work, our communities will now see solid action. The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway’s investment in an economic development plan will spotlight a positive economic future for all of us along the Fox and Lower Wisconsin rivers.”
February 11 -16, 2012, EDP will be holding a series of public input meetings throughout the Parkway to gather information and feedback. Municipalities, organizations, businesses and individuals interested in participating in this study or learning more about the FWHP are encouraged to attend.