McFarland details development plans

March 22, 2019

Mayoral candidate and current 1st District Alderwoman Emily McFarland has detailed her intentions for economic development in the city of Watertown.

“Economic development simply boils down to improving the fiscal and social environment in a community. I have met with local and regional economic development professionals and they substantiated the initiatives I plan to promote as mayor to ensure that Watertown is improving and staying competitive in retaining and attracting employers. There are many players in the economic development arena, and I want to ensure that the city is playing the correct role in that arena.”

McFarland stated one of the items she plans to tackle in her first 100 days as mayor is to evaluate Watertown’s current processes and requirements for current and future businesses and developers.

“We need to have a one-stop shop for prospective developers and current businesses looking to expand. We need to have a point of contact to provide the developer/business owner with a timeline of the necessary meetings, the fees, and the applicable ordinances. I heard from numerous economic development professionals that owners/developers are looking for an efficient process, and I intend to equip Watertown with the means to provide a streamlined, efficient service, with business-friendly processes and ordinances.”

McFarland added that another primary focus for economic development in Watertown is to ensure the city has an educated and prepared workforce.

“I intend to continue to expand and utilize the relationships I currently have with the chamber of commerce, Thrive Economic Development, the school district, private schools and universities and Madison College to collaborate on providing training and practical opportunities so that citizens and students are educated and skilled in the areas that our workforce demands.”

McFarland detailed the importance of prioritizing and maintaining the city’s roads, underground infrastructure and utilities.

“Having prepared roads and underground utilities, including fiber-optic cable, is critical to insuring our community can answer the call when it’s made. The recently established opportunity zones give portions of our community a leg up for incentivizing development so it is imperative that our city is ready for the development that is coming our way.”

A business-friendly city government, a prepared workforce, and well maintained streets and utilities are the first incremental steps the city will take under McFarland’s plan. McFarland believes that coupling those items with her support of the library and downtown revitalization and advocacy on the state level for funding to renovate existing manufacturing buildings will be the initial keys to economic development in the city.