Engaging influences on Madison
(page 3 of 5)
Neighborhood Fixer Upper
Curt Roeming is known more for his popcorn business, Curt’s Gourmet Popcorn, which has been on the Capitol Square for more than 30 years, and for his leadership in another company, Top Quality Carpet Cleaning & Restoration. But it’s another kind of restoration work with two companies, Gilson Street LLC and Brown Building LLC, where he’s had a more profound impact.
It began several years ago when Roeming purchased a property on Gilson Street in Madison in which to run one of his small companies. As years passed, he got to know the neighbors, including an elderly man who did not feel safe and always had his windows covered. The same man owned other properties on the street, and all were boarded up and sitting empty before Roeming purchased them and started the long process of turning a blighted neighborhood around one property at a time.
One of the properties Roeming remodeled now houses the Funk Factory Geuzeria. Shortly after that, Perfect Moves Martial Arts took up residence next door.
Since these properties were sitting empty and dark, the neighborhood was an area where drug deals were occurring and prostitution was prevalent. Roeming’s investment in them not only led to their rehabilitation, but also added outside lighting and greatly cut back on nefarious activities. Commerce has returned, property values are increasing, and thankful neighbors are once again fixing up their houses, working in their yards, and greeting one another outside.
Roeming is not a big developer, nor does he have big money backing him. He simply believes in this neighborhood and now the neighbors do, as well.
Latinos and Latinas officially became the largest minority group in Wisconsin this past year, a trend that is benefiting Wisconsin in many ways. Leveraging that trend in the form of new and existing business development is the mission of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County and its president, Mayra Medrano.
In what many view as a hostile political environment, Medrano reminds her fellow Wisconsinites of how Wisconsin immigrants are key contributors to the state economy, especially the immigrant entrepreneurs who have started an estimated 10,000 businesses. They contributed nearly $600 million in business income annually between 2006 and 2010 and, in an era where the state struggles to create new business ventures, she notes that immigrants open businesses at twice the rate of U.S.-born citizens.
As the business community service manager for Madison Gas & Electric Co., Medrano had a head start on serving the business community. And as the purchasing power of immigrant consumers and the sales receipts of immigrant-owned businesses continue to grow, the Latino Chamber has created an Emerging Business Development Center to assist startups by offering office space, access to technology, and business coaching.
The new center is in keeping with the Latino Chamber’s determination to serve as a resource for Latino entrepreneurs. The Chamber now has 225 member businesses, roughly half of them Latino-owned, and stands ready to assist would-be entrepreneurs with business consultations and workshops, and to serve members with a business directory now available through a mobile phone application.
Most Madisonians are familiar with Deb Archer’s success in making Greater Madison a popular destination, but keeping this area top-of-mind from a visitor’s standpoint is a task that never ends — even for someone who has been at it for more than 20 years and counting.
Archer, president and CEO of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Madison Area Sports Commission, and her busy staff continue to lure events here. We know about the Ironman and other events and conventions that call Madison home, but their latest “lure” is the national CrossFit Games away from Los Angeles for at least the next three years. Under Archer’s leadership, the sports commission made the case for the event to leave California for the first time in its 10-year history and give Madison a try.
During the weeklong event, to be held the first week of August, an estimated 33,000 visitors could spend up to $5.6 million. Archer’s vision is that this event becomes part of the Madison scene for years to come and continues to pay financial and reputational dividends.
Nominated by the staff at Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, Archer’s impact on Greater Madison is widespread, but the economic impact of the CVB’s destination marketing efforts alone have been remarkable. In 2016, visitors to this area accounted for more than $2 billion in direct and indirect spending, and their interest in Madison supported more than 21,600 jobs in Dane County. That translated into $635 million in labor income, a healthy 7% increase over 2015.
It was yet another record year and offers more evidence that after two decades, Archer’s influence continues to grow.