Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wal-Mart and Urban Blight

Speaking of Downtown. Wal-Mart arrived in Neenah a few years ago and today downtown is a dead husk of it's former bustling self.

With the opening of Plexus Corp.'s new global headquarters, downtown Neenah boasts a daytime employment of nearly 12,000 people.

"That number is similar to Green Bay and larger than Appleton," said Chris Haese, Neenah's director of community development. "It's a testament to the growth of the downtown and reflects an effort to diversify our economy."

The employment covers workers within a mile radius of downtown. It accounts for not only Plexus, but also Alta Resources, Bemis Co., Neenah Paper Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Bergstrom Corp. and ThedaCare, among others.

The story is really about a keen new office building [1] but the number in the lead gobsmacked me. 12,000 people. Restaurants, bars, a nice little park with a farmer's market and concerts in the summer. That's a whole lot of activity to cram into an area that is supposed to be blighted by the arrival of a big box store on the edge of town.

[1] Bias alert - I work there and think it's a pretty keen place to sit

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