It took less than two months after it was created for the village board to approve the appointment of nine people to the new Brookfield Economic Development Commission, an advisory body that will supplement village efforts to promote Brookfield as a business- and development-friendly community.
The commission was one of the key recommendations outlined in the economic development plan recently adopted by the village board, and its members will work with the Brookfield Community Development Department, the village’s economic development consultant and management on initiatives to benefit both existing and future businesses.
Village Manager Timothy Wiberg said he expects the commission to convene its first meeting in mid- to late-August. At that meeting, the group will need to select a chairperson, and village staff will provide the commission with documents to get them up to speed on the village’s economic development efforts to date and its plan for the future.
“Where it goes from there will depend in large part on what they want to do and what arises organically,” Wiberg said.
Emily Egan, the village’s director of community development will be staff’s principal liaison to the commission and is identifying initiative for the group as it hits the ground.
“It’s a really good opportunity to get more communication to and from business owners and the community,” Egan said. “I hope that they’ll look at a lot of the plans and initiatives and come up with their own ideas to improve what we’ve started.”
The eight men and one woman appointed to the commission represent some of the village’s biggest economic draws, real estate development, retail sales, banking and foodservice.
The village’s largest tourist attractions – Brookfield Zoo and Galloping Ghost Arcade – are represented on the commission, respectively, by Jennifer Baader, senior vice president for government affairs for the Chicago Zoological Society, and Doc Mack, the owner of several business along Ogden Avenue bearing the Galloping Ghost brand.
“We thought it was important to get Ogden Avenue represented, and [Doc Mack] probably more than anybody has a big footprint there, with lots of properties,” said Wiberg. “It’s important to get his viewpoint and I look forward to working with him.”
Representing the retail sector are David Pardun, co-owner of the downtown candy store Fill My Jar; David Curelo, manager of Tischler Finer Foods in the Eight Corners business district; and Michael Doerr, co-owner of A Sound Education, a musical instrument dealer/music education business on Ogden Avenue.
The commission also includes Phil Richard, president and CEO of First National Bank of Brookfield, the village’s only independently owned bank; Juan Silva, co-owner of Beach Ave. BBQ in the Eight Corners district; and Christopher Valadez, who represents the nonprofit organization Cycle Brookfield.
The final member of the commission is real estate developer Michael Gatto, who in recent years has built three multifamily rental projects specifically in the downtown area and has a fourth nearly ready to break ground.
His most recent development at 3708 Grand Blvd. caused a bit of a stir as it was being built for its scale compared to the rest of that section of the downtown, but it’s proving attractive to renters, with 10 of its 17 units already leased.
Gatto was one of the people on the commission recruited to be a member.
“We reached out to Mike because he’s had several successful projects and really takes the time to dig into our codes,” Wiberg said. “He’s very well-versed as a user of those codes and it’s important for us to understand what works, what makes sense.”