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Appleton Expo Center: An important step forward for the Fox Cities Region

As you have probably heard, on January 7 the Appleton Common Council voted down the negotiated land purchase that would have moved the Exhibition Center project forward. As a member of our organization, we want to pro-actively keep you informed about the project. The Fox Cities Chamber fully supports the exhibition center, and we hope with your help we can persuade the Council to move forward.

The City of Appleton plays a key role in this project. As the deal is currently envisioned, they will purchase the land on which the center will be built, install infrastructure improvements for the center, and own the building once constructed. These economic development roles are totally appropriate for the City, and we support them contributing to regional growth and prosperity in these ways.

It is important to understand, however, that the City will NOT be paying to build the center. Construction costs will be funded by hotel room tax revenue that will come from the entire Fox Cities region. Action will be needed from all communities to leverage this funding tool in support of this project. In the end, then, the building will be paid for by visitors to the region, not residents.

After years of study, we have learned that an exhibition center will generate $6.5 million in new annual economic activity. This is in addition to payments to the City to cover the cost of municipal services. Given these benefits, the project is a good deal for taxpayers. It just makes sense.

So what if this project doesn’t happen? The economic activity the center would generate will be lost, but the region will lose so much more than that. We will lose the sense of forward progress we have from things like Mile of Music. Other sectors of the economy, like sports tourism and retail, will feel the squeeze, because there will be fewer people visiting the area. Interest rates are low and the cost of construction will only increase with time, so we need to move this project forward now.

What can you do?

  • Communicate with Appleton Common Council members and tell them you favor the exhibition center project. This page allows you to email all members at once: http://bit.ly/1ov49vv
  • Attend the January 21 meeting of the Council to show your support in person. You do not have to speak at the hearing! Simply by showing up you can make a statement.
  • Finally, talk to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers and ask them to speak up. The more people urging the Council to move forward, the more likely we will see this project become a reality for the Fox Cities region!

Questions? Please reach out to Shannon Full, President and CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber by email:  sfull@foxcitieschamber.com or by phone: 734.7101 to learn more about why the Fox Cities Chamber feels so strongly about this important step forward for the region. Thank you for your engagement with this issue!

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