An economic development initiative in Riverside is beginning to have an impact while officials in Brookfield hope an initiative there will pay dividends down the line.

In recent years, Riverside elected officials have created three formal business districts along Harlem Avenue, which has long been in need of an economic boost with vacant and underutilized properties crying out for redevelopment.

In two of those business districts, where the village is slowly amassing funds for economic incentives and property acquisition via a 1-percent sales tax, things have started to happen.

In Business District 1, which includes commercial properties around Harlem and Longcommon, the village has used business district funds to acquire a piece of property it intends to flip to a neighboring property owner to create more parking for his strip mall and a cannabis dispensary that is slated to come to the old TitleMax building there.

While that deal has been hung up on dispensary license issues, those properties have never been as attractive for redevelopment, and the village is able to leverage its position to help redevelopment take place and make that gateway to the village more attractive.

In Business District 2, which includes the commercial stretch on either side of the BNSF tracks, the village is using the funding that the district provides (and will provide in the future) to acquire a second property to create an attractive redevelopment parcel stretching along the south side of East Burlington Street while a Sherwin-Williams paint store is constructed on the north side.

As redevelopment goes, a Sherwin-Williams store isn’t sexy, but it resulted in the village acquiring, for virtually nothing, the former Bank of America parking lot on the south side of the street, which set up the impending purchase of the derelict mixed-use building at 363 E. Burlington St.

The existence of that business district also allowed the village to use business district funds to extend a grant to the new restaurant Cubanito Express for an outdoor dining area on what is now a decidedly homely landscaped area along the side of that building.

That’s a lot of progress for Harlem Avenue in Riverside, where commercial properties have been seemingly preserved in amber for the last several decades.

In Brookfield, there’s a new Economic Development Commission whose members have been drawn from some of the village’s most important and high-profile businesses and attractions, such as Brookfield Zoo, Galloping Ghost Arcade and First National Bank of Brookfield.

But there’s also representation from the village’s mom-and-pop retail sector as well as from the real estate redevelopment sector — something the village has spent the past five years trying to jump start through zoning updates.

Tapping into the expertise of these professionals can only assist elected officials and staff advance the economic development goals of the village.