By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

Village of East Troy officials and area residents heard a presentation from Graef, the firm the village hired to help with economic development, on possible strategies to encourage growth in the Tri-Troy area at the April 16 joint meeting of the Village Board Committee of the Whole and the Plan Commission.

The village hired Graef to research the area and bring recommendations to the board on what can be done to spur business and residential growth.

Tanya Fonseca, of Graef, gave the presentation at the meeting with the help of Graef associate Larry Witzling.

Fonseca said one of the things she found encouraging in her trips to East Troy and the many conversations she had with local officials, the chamber director, business leaders and residents, was that “everybody is on the same page” as far as what they envision for East Troy’s future.

Fonseca said East Troy was “kind of a best kept secret” and there was a lot of untapped potential in the area of tourism. She commended the community, and specifically the East Troy Area Chamber of Commerce, on its events and programming and said the village should look at ways to expand its marketing, especially in regional publications, to get the word out about what the community offers.

Fonseca said the Village Square had become a destination for people who knew about it and wanted to see more promotion of the area to attract visitors from far and wide. She cited the “unique” businesses such as the coffee shop, 2894 On Main, and the new East Troy Brewery, which is under construction, as just two of the businesses that tend to draw crowds. She recommended the village look into possibly creating façade development grants to help businesses on the square and the corridors into the square improve their curb appeal.

Fonseca said the village’s plan to purchase 170 acres south of Interstate 43 by the Honey Creek Apartments to build a new business park to encourage development was a good step in the right direction.

The presentation from Graef, which is available on the village’s website,, in the April 16 meeting packet, offered insights and suggestions for improvement village-wide, on the Village Square and downtown, in the business park and in the residential areas.

Among the village-wide actions suggested by Graef was the formation of a community development authority.

Village Board President Scott Seager said that was something the village was looking at and was open to the idea.

“Maybe the village does something like this already; the Village of East Troy, Town of East Troy and Town of Troy heads meet (together) regularly and also with area business leaders,” Seager said. “It could also be a way to maybe reestablish the ETCDA.”

Fonseca said a CDA was an important step in economic development because the group can work in cooperation with the Tri-Troy municipalities but also act independently in meeting with business owners looking to possibly move to East Troy, many of who do not want their plans known publically until they are ready to make the move.

The presentation also included suggestions for strengthening the business corridors into the village and ideas to facilitate development of “catalytic sites” which could be leveraged to attract additional development.

Fonseca said the village should start identifying which properties are critical for the future development and redevelopment of East Troy, such as properties around the interchanges, the Business Park and the Village Square.

She called some of those properties “low-hanging fruit” and suggested the village focus on developing those properties first.

She added that overall, the village had large tracks of land that were ripe for development and it was in a good position to attract business and residential projects.

Village Administrator Eileen Suhm asked Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vanessa Lenz her thoughts after the presentation was finished. Lenz said it was encouraging to see that a lot of what the community was already doing was on the list of ideas from Graef. Lenz added that educating the community on the importance of the things like big events and marketing would be helpful when people start questioning why things are changing.

The board asked Graef to come back with a specific list of “next steps” for the village to consider.


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