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BizCast 039: You’re Always Welcome in Holmen with Patrick Barlow

Episode 39

You’re Always Welcome in Holmen with Patrick Barlow

About BizCast Greater La Crosse

We bring you news from the business community. From startups to experienced problem solvers, you’ll get in-depth insight on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Greater La Crosse. Our show is a collaboration between and BizNews Greater La Crosse ( ).

Full Transcript [ generated by AI]

[00:00:00] Patrick Barlow: We’ve got some great businesses coming and some that have already opened. When we look especially at the business area, there’s, a few areas of town that people might really notice or that are standing out now to them.

[00:00:14] Vicki Markussen: Welcome to BizCast Greater La Crosse, a weekly podcast from BizNews. We bring you news from the business community. I am your host and founder, Vicki Markussen. My guest today is Patrick Barlow. He is village president of Holmen. Many of you know that, of course, many businesses rely on the municipalities that they live in.

[00:00:35] Vicki Markussen: And so seeing Holmen growing with residents, and we’ll talk about businesses as well, certainly has an impact on our business community as well as others. So let’s start with Business. What are you seeing for business growth in Holmen?

[00:00:51] Patrick Barlow: Very good. Well, first, thank you for inviting me in. Happy to always talk about what great things are happening in Holmen.

[00:00:57] Patrick Barlow: And yeah, I think the one thing that I [00:01:00] appreciate being Village President, especially the last four or five years, is the kind of the, almost the extreme amount of growth and new development in our community. When we look especially at the business area, there’s, a few areas of town that people might really notice or that are standing out now to them.

[00:01:18] Patrick Barlow: One is our older kind of downtown business core, that area kind down Main Street and State Street and well known for our great businesses like the Holmen Meat Locker and, Smokey’s Bar and those things. But what’s really great is that the significant investment by the Chad and Karen McCathey in terms of building a new business building on the old library site and the growth in that building just in the last few months.

[00:01:48] Patrick Barlow: And so that building was finished in the summer and we are seeing it fill up. We’ve got some great businesses coming and some that have already opened. we’re going to have a six to eight brewing tap room in [00:02:00] that building. We’ve got a kind of an athletic shoe store at kicks in that space.

[00:02:06] Patrick Barlow: There will be a place for you to get to your spot as timeless beauty, many spa. And then the Omega bakery, which is really an interesting story in our community that it’s a gluten-free bakery. And for the last few years, they’ve been hitting the majority of all the farmers markets and the one in Holmen, especially, but now they have their own space, their own bakery, and they’re going like gangbusters opened in the last week.

[00:02:31] Patrick Barlow: Just that overall investment, that old downtown core give a new life, that’s really exciting to see. It

[00:02:38] Vicki Markussen: is, it’s like a, it’s a new destination. Holmen, Holmen Meat is. Always a destination, but now there’s even more to do while people are

[00:02:46] Patrick Barlow: down there. Yeah, for sure, for sure. And so it’s this nice mix of the established businesses.

[00:02:51] Patrick Barlow: Like I said, this new investment to really look for the future of the community. And that is, one kind of special. base that we have [00:03:00] going on. So we’re, and there’s a little bit more left to be done. There still is an old automotive it was an old gas station, automotive fix it shop that again, the McAfees are turning into a wine bar.

[00:03:11] Patrick Barlow: There’s more to come. So keep your eye open for what’s going on and in downtown.

[00:03:16] Vicki Markussen: Fantastic. It’s interesting seeing all of the business growth, when festival moved that sparked that entire development that was happening. They’re starting to go north. We have the quick trip there on the north side, and just just tremendous growth.

[00:03:32] Vicki Markussen: Why? And 608 now second location for them. Why is it? that growth area?

[00:03:39] Patrick Barlow: I think there’s a few things, some keys to our success. And this is a long-term planning element, that we’ve spent a lot of time looking at. One thing that we basically try to do is work really well with the developers and the business community, making sure they have a clear.

[00:03:55] Patrick Barlow: path to our processes for approvals and the right zoning and those kinds of [00:04:00] situations. If we look specifically at that Northern Business Park, that is nestled in a tax increment financing district that was founded years ago. So the village, with its foresight, put in infrastructure, water and sewer, up to that site.

[00:04:16] Patrick Barlow: And then have worked with the developers and the businesses to really secure that as a, as a jewel in the crown of like future commercial and light industrial growth. So that’s been long going. It had a little bit of a slow start at the front end. But now that we have that that has also spilled over into residential growth just to the south of that new quick trip area.

[00:04:37] Patrick Barlow: We’re greatly looking forward for that new YMCA in a certain point in time in the future. And on the far north end north of like the cheese plant and real energy and some of those businesses, several new subdivisions to the north of that that are growing. So it’s going to be nestled in and having You know, all those customers, potential customers so that’s why I think some of those businesses are really [00:05:00] locating in that, in that northern area.

[00:05:02] Patrick Barlow: I think the other thing to note is like you mentioned the area around the festival foods. That is our second kind of. Tax increment financing district. So that those funds from that growth that new festival store that lift in the base There helped us fund the wonderful roundabout with the, Village of home and local at that trouble spot the main street and garter road helped us get the funds to build that bridge on Hale Drive into the south end of the residential development, the Cole Farms area.

[00:05:29] Patrick Barlow: But you can see the ebbs and flows. We have the new Scooters Coffee. We’ve got the wonderful new Winona National Bank, relatively new now. I think it’s been open about two years. But that whole home and drive corridor in that area especially is just flowering. But it’s through the, looking ahead for infrastructure needs, looking ahead to use the resources we have to help Get the resources to help that area grow.

[00:05:56] Vicki Markussen: Yeah And it’s interesting because you really have three little pockets [00:06:00] of commercial development. So it’s the festival It’s where festival used to be Holmen square That historic downtown which every community needs and the interesting thing I find about Holmen is I mean I’m going back to my builders association days when I first Moved here and there were always, and still are parade homes in Holmen because there’s space to grow in Holmen.

[00:06:21] Vicki Markussen: And I know you’ve, for several years have been the fastest growing community in the state of Wisconsin. So what do you attribute

[00:06:28] Patrick Barlow: that to? I think. Part of it is related to the green space that we do have for the open space. I think that’s part of it. But even if there’s communities that have open space, I think it’s our, again, going back to our working relationship with developers and having good working relationships.

[00:06:43] Patrick Barlow: They’re clear, setting up agreements with them to help them lay out their residential subdivisions and pretty.

[00:06:53] Patrick Barlow: So I think that’s part of it. I think the other thing is that we are being so planful that we will help facilitate the [00:07:00] infrastructure that’s needed for that. Let’s say 1 example is right now we have, a new Westridge addition, that subdivision just north of our Evergreen Elementary School.

[00:07:09] Patrick Barlow: As that was taking shape, and as that was, getting laid out and just as the future, we as a community invested heavily in the water and sewer line to extend that line up into that area first, so that those residents could be serviced. A little disruption. You have to close the road for a while.

[00:07:27] Patrick Barlow: People have to go a little bit longer route. But within that one summer, we lay the groundwork, and then that leads to that development. I think that’s maybe one of the other keys to access. We’re not afraid to make the investments needed to help spur the future growth and meet the needs of our community.

[00:07:44] Vicki Markussen: Yeah, and one of those investments is, what was it, five parks opened? Was it five or three? Three,

[00:07:50] Patrick Barlow: three yes. Three new parks. And the interesting thing for people to understand, Is that when we work with these residential subdivision developers, part of [00:08:00] those agreements relates to green space that they will donate in that area to the village for us to use for parks and park facilities.

[00:08:09] Patrick Barlow: The exciting thing. So over the summer we finished up building three new parks, two or more of what we’d call like the neighborhood style, a little bit smaller footprint, but they’re within walking distance of those neighborhoods, one in McGill every park. That’s that neighborhood just south of the new quick trip off of.

[00:08:25] Patrick Barlow: Highway 35, one off of Sand Lake Road and that Perch Farm development, both of those a little bit smaller. They have some shelters. They have a smaller kind of playground facilities, some covered picnic benches but the gem, and this is an interesting one. The 15 acre park off of old 93, that’s the seven bridges park.

[00:08:45] Patrick Barlow: In working with that developer instead of maybe little smaller snippets of several of those subdivisions, housing subdivisions to the north of that area, one larger parcel to help us create what we consider more of a regional park. [00:09:00] So within that, we have space for, there’s one new ball field there’s two spaces for two soccer fields, so it’s a lovely, covered shelter with a nice, inside area to Set up your crockpots for your family picnic.

[00:09:13] Patrick Barlow: A walking trail that surrounds the outside of that. Several kinds of covered picnic benches. And a really lovely playground area with two ziplines there. So we just opened that, A few weeks ago, although people have been using it for months, but we just signified it, the special opening.

[00:09:29] Patrick Barlow: But we do those things because we know residents appreciate the ability to play, the ability to recreate. We use those facilities for our, hundreds of park and rec programs we hold throughout the year. So in addition to water, sewer, like the less fun stuff that a village government works on.

[00:09:47] Patrick Barlow: We take it seriously to provide for those other needs that really make the home and community a community. So

[00:09:53] Vicki Markussen: how does that work? So how is it that one developer has a smaller park and another, that’s [00:10:00] a, that’s many acres, I’m guessing of. Park space. So how does the village say you’re the developer who gets the big one and at whose cost

[00:10:09] Patrick Barlow: right?

[00:10:09] Patrick Barlow: So in that particular case, and again, I’m not always on the front line. We have great administrator and great staff on this. But what I believe are, modus operandi is in that case is knowing that developer has secured the rights for a lot of land in that area and the conversations about how many of those subdivisions would be built led to the discussion about this kind of an alternate strategy, which I think, we looked at as an opportunity to create something special and remember we were growing so fast and so far up to the north side of Holmen we had no parks north of I think road, so now we have at least 2 with a larger 1 in this 1, but it was a unique situation there where we were able to plan with that developer to maybe meet a special need for us [00:11:00] because.

[00:11:00] Patrick Barlow: With a lot of people, some families, a lot of kids who play soccer, we also are running up to some limits for soccer space and for ball fields and those facilities themselves take a lot more land. So there’s some needs that we were trying to achieve with that situation as well in terms of cost. And this is always a critical A lot of what the village does regarding infrastructure is to levy some debt that we would pay off for the next 20 years to build the facilities and do the infrastructure improvements that we think are really critical.

[00:11:35] Patrick Barlow: And so while the land is donated, the rest of the park equipment, the building of the park, the buying the fences and the lights and the water fountains, all that is, is put in, through the village and, we’re very thoughtful about that process and that is, you know, where we’re very careful, but when the investments needed, we use those strategies

[00:11:57] Vicki Markussen: well, and it’s in the best interest of the developer [00:12:00] to, to have a nice part.

[00:12:01] Vicki Markussen: That’s a draw to the developments possibly around that park. So as long as it’s partnership with the village, and they know their numbers, they don’t do it in naïveté. So

[00:12:14] Patrick Barlow: yeah, for correct. And I do think it is as a selling point that in Holmen we have, these amenities, the, that area, a service by great park we also have the great.

[00:12:24] Patrick Barlow: school district and school systems. When we are growing, like through those added businesses adding the types of business array so that maybe you do not need to always drive farther south to get your gluten-free loaf of bread or, that tap room beer or those kinds of purchases. And that’s what I’m happy to see is that the business owners are seeing there’s.

[00:12:50] Patrick Barlow: It’s good to invest in Holmen. They will have the customer base. It’s going to grow into the future a little bit. And it’s just, again, exciting to see. You

[00:12:59] Vicki Markussen: touched [00:13:00] on this a little bit, but obviously with growth comes infrastructure burdens. So what is that looking like as you’re growing? You talked about, we’re adding sewers, we’re going into some of these areas in anticipation, but that comes with an expense.

[00:13:15] Patrick Barlow: Correct. And I think the other thing that to notice that the village also has both sewer utility wastewater treatment plant of our own, the water utility. And so we’re responsible for running bring those utilities as well. And so as we look to the future, and this is where that tool of that kind of tax increment financing district is really a critical leverage point.

[00:13:39] Patrick Barlow: So right now we are finishing off a new wellhead, about a mile’s worth of water pipe up the bluff to a new water reservoir that will service that whole Northern area. It’s off of that old highway 93. Area the bulk or almost all of that is being paid for by the tax increment from [00:14:00] that business residential area up there off of, where the home and cheese plant is the new quick trip that area.

[00:14:06] Patrick Barlow: So that is meeting the needs of that tax increment district. And so that’s the funding stream. for that. And so that’s, really critical to know. We also finished off a brand new wastewater treatment plant that we put on again, extended general obligation bonds. But those are also going to be paid off long term through the utility fees.

[00:14:29] Patrick Barlow: And so there’s the work there. And I think that’s an undersold part of our success. Yeah. We really set a course there to control our own destiny. And having that ability to have those wastewater treatment needs met for the long term has really allowed us some flexibility and not put a limit on how much growth, we can have.

[00:14:54] Patrick Barlow: And so it’s undersold the importance of that forethought to build that new plant. So there are [00:15:00] stresses and strains, but we’re a planful approach. Meet the needs and find the right funding streams so that those utilities can be fully realized. Yeah.

[00:15:11] Vicki Markussen: And obviously, so you have this big pain point when a big utility comes online, so to speak, on the taxpayers, but the more you can grow that tax base, obviously that spreads the load out over, over time.

[00:15:22] Vicki Markussen: And the for those of you not familiar with. tax incremental financing, those TIF districts. So and correct me if my explanation is wrong, but essentially what it does is say, okay, here’s the current assessed value of this land. There’s businesses, homes going in, whatever, however it’s structured that are adding to the tax.

[00:15:41] Vicki Markussen: base, but the revenue off of that growth is reinvested into paying back the infrastructure that was needed for it. And then after a period of time, that property stops self investing, if you will, and goes back on the general tax rolls. But it’s the tax base is staying the same [00:16:00] in terms of burden on the rest of the taxpayers.

[00:16:02] Vicki Markussen: Is that the best way

[00:16:02] Patrick Barlow: to explain it? Yeah, I think that covers it pretty well. And I think the other. Part of that situation is that we work closely with our other taxing entities, the technical college district, the school district, and the county. We are partner with them on what, the joint review board that looks at the growth and the impacts of those districts each year to make sure we’re all on the same page and in agreement of moving forward with those.

[00:16:28] Patrick Barlow: But it’s yeah it’s, I think it’s a strong tool that we’ve leveraged to quite a lot of success. Village. Yeah. And that’s

[00:16:34] Vicki Markussen: a good point because it’s essentially that it’s not just village of Holmen and money that’s being collected. It does have a ripple effect on the schools and the universe or the college.

[00:16:44] Vicki Markussen: And the county. So having those conversations on the other impact that doing so has to make sure that they, that doesn’t significantly impact them. And that’s actually a good segue to, so Oh, you have growth. You have the space like you and West Salem. That is the [00:17:00] area to build new homes. What is that doing for impact on your schools?

[00:17:05] Patrick Barlow: Yeah, that’s the interesting thing that people are saying. Well, why aren’t you building another middle school or what’s going on with the You need another elementary. Well, the interesting thing is we partner with the school district very strongly. We are meeting at least annually, if not multiple times a year talking about what new developments are coming and the impacts.

[00:17:25] Patrick Barlow: And so there’s formulas and calculations and the school district themselves. They monitor their student head counts very well. And so even though we’re seeing this amount of growth, I think we’re in a kind of a cultural era where families are smaller. I think some of this development is actually in like more retirement focused housing or kind of smaller retirement condos, those kinds of facilities that aren’t going to drive a lot of young people entering the school system.

[00:17:53] Patrick Barlow: So, so what we have is the schools aren’t the school district’s not building a lot of new schools. But they are closely [00:18:00] monitoring it and obviously would adjust if needed, but the throughput through the schools is not schools aren’t bursting at the seams, but what they have found and just recently had a successful referendum to do is, major thoughtful renovations to their existing I believe, uh, Viking Elementary

[00:18:21] Patrick Barlow: to better meet the needs of kind of modern education. Thank you. As well as a significant investment in the middle school, a major retrofit that’ll probably start in the next year or a little bit more into the future. To reconsider what their needs are, what the modern educational needs are, and that’s how they’re moving forward.

[00:18:40] Patrick Barlow: Yeah, it’s an interesting growth pattern. You think it would be bursting at the seams, but it’s the type of… Size of families that are smaller and some of these other developments aren’t driving that as much as you would assume.

[00:18:53] Vicki Markussen: So you have population growth, but not necessarily in, with individuals who have children [00:19:00] heading into the school district.

[00:19:01] Vicki Markussen: Is that the best

[00:19:01] Patrick Barlow: way to put it? I’d say best, yeah, that would be very accurate picture. And then just families are smaller. Yes. I think just demographically the purchase of those 15 passenger vans is probably a little bit slower these days than they maybe were in the 70s, 80s or something like that.

[00:19:19] Patrick Barlow: So, yeah,

[00:19:20] Vicki Markussen: you’re listening to BizCast Greater La Crosse. The guest is Patrick Barlow, village president of Holmen. What else do you have going on in Holmen? What haven’t we hit?

[00:19:30] Patrick Barlow: Well, I mean, there’s so much that we’ve talked about that I mean, maybe just to give a little, paint a little picture of the future.

[00:19:37] Patrick Barlow: When we look at some of that residential development and where might that be moving into the future, I think it’s important for people to consider the three. Maybe three directions. So if we go out to the east of the village out County Road D, we’ll probably see, some growth in some more residential subdivisions out in that direction.

[00:19:57] Patrick Barlow: So he kind of east of the village, [00:20:00] kind of northeast, kind of that on that corridor County Road V, kind of where this new Westridge development is, we anticipate the next 5, 6 years, additional subdivisions moving in that. Yeah. direction as well. And then to the north. So that area we’ve already talked about now north of home, and she’s the seven bridges area, more residential subdivisions out in that way.

[00:20:20] Patrick Barlow: And that kind of reminds me another key to the success of this whole operation. It was the thoughtfulness of the leadership of the village and our partners in the towns of Holland and town of Alaska to create what’s called a boundary agreement so that we don’t have any turf wars per se but agree where the cone of growth is, where homeland would grow, and where the townships would grow and just, it brought a lot of peace between The communities and some more certainty.

[00:20:53] Patrick Barlow: So we know the directions we’re moving forward. So that was another piece I forgot to mention earlier. But so there’s [00:21:00] residential growth. We look to see more businesses, especially that Northern business district kind of flower, across the next few years, we’re working to put roads and some water infrastructure, sewer, and that’s what you see the worth removing equipment out there for if you’re driving up in that area.

[00:21:15] Patrick Barlow: And some fleshing out of the area, like right behind the scooters in Winona National Bank, there’s a road that’s being built, they’re almost done, from Garter Road back to Hale Drive. We anticipate more commercial growth there and some residential growth in that area. So those are some of the areas of people are kind of wandering where they should be driving around Holmen.

[00:21:35] Patrick Barlow: Those would be some places to go take a look at and see what happens the next few years.

[00:21:40] Vicki Markussen: Exciting things ahead. So my common closer question is what makes you passionate about What you do,

[00:21:49] Patrick Barlow: I think seeing the growth, but seeing the excitement of people, both those who have been living in Holmen for years, but the new [00:22:00] members of our community to come together and continue to work together and.

[00:22:06] Patrick Barlow: To be good neighbors to help play in the parks, to celebrate Cornfest, to bring all that together. So it’s good to see, it’s the fruits of the labors, the skull drudgery of like village budgets and those kinds of things to see it come together and to see the community flourishing. I think that’s some of the benefits, some of the things that drive me in this role.

[00:22:29] Vicki Markussen: And I gotta let you say your favorite tagline.

[00:22:33] Patrick Barlow: Sure. It’s the tagline of the village on our logo and everything. And just to know that when in, when you’re in Holmen, you’re always welcome.

[00:22:39] Vicki Markussen: Fantastic. You’ve been listening to BizCast Greater La Crosse. I’m your host, Vicki Markussen. We’ll catch you next week.



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