New Richmond gets $9 million in new businesses thanks to Old Wes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New Richmond gets $9 million in new businesses thanks to Old West incentive


New Richmond (WQOW) - An area city has been enticing new building projects in a unique way. For the past 18 months, New Richmond has waived a certain type of fee for those looking to build in the city. The city is hoping to draw in six million dollars in new taxable property.

In the summer of 2011 the city of New Richmond was facing a building lull.

"We were coming off highs of 216 permits a year, which is, for our community of 8,000, that's a good strong number for us, the last two years we've had about 16 permits per year, not the strongest," says Bob Barbian, the Director of Community Development and Planning for the city of New Richmond.

So the city council decided to be proactive.  In hopes of attracting more builders, they went back to the ways of the Old West.

"They decided to come up with a program, and they tabbed it the "New Richmond Land Rush: Come Stake Your Claim"," Barbian says. "Basically they said we're going to waive or suspend our fees, we have impact fees in New Richmond, and they are to take care of sewage capacity, water capacity and those items."

Which saved builders and potential companies nearly $10,000 a permit, and brought in dozens of new businesses and homes.

"Right now we have a 50 unit hotel coming in, and they're going to save about $275,000," says New Richmond City Council president Jim Zajdowski.

"Thankfully this year we're doing fairly well, 24 have been completed, we have 24 permits that have been issued for new units, and we have about 10 more pending," says Barbian.

Not only adding more taxable land for the city, but more jobs as well.

"We've probably received letters of intent for our business and tech park and commercial lands of about four or five, and I believe that those jobs would total about 50 to 60 jobs right off the bat," Barbian says.

And the city expects the building to continue over the next several years, thanks to a $600 million DOT project.

"With the new bridge coming across the St. Croix River, we're seeing a lot of interest in our community. We have the four lane highway going from New Richmond to that bridge, so we're the endpoint of the four lane highway," Zajdowski says. "When that bridge is done we'll be about 30 minutes from downtown St. Paul."

The city says even though they are losing some money up front, because they aren't receiving the permit fees, they believe it will be beneficial in the long run. They ended up getting $9 million in taxable new business in the city.

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