It has been a whirlwind of local economic development over the past couple of weeks.

First, the long-hoped-for project at the Cotton Mill took shape and then, last night’s announcement that a $13.4 million project by Armor Plastics will revitalize the old Williamson Heater plant on the hilltop constitutes a virtual wave of development. It feels like we have been waiting a long time for this kind of news.

We think area residents should be happy and encouraged by this news. We are.

Local government officials and economic development specialists have been taking heat for some time that there has been little progress in luring new companies. These developments show that much hard work has been going on and now is paying off. As with most economic development these days it is not free.

Modern economic development is done as a public/private partnership and these projects are no exception. They will be enabled by a mix of bonds funded by tax incremental financing (TIF) money, tax abatements and infrastructure projects. Using TIF money to finance projects is often controversial, but we believe that these projects are aligned with the original intent of TIF zones. Both projects take property that formerly contributed to the local tax base but are now blighted and have not contributed to the tax base for quite some time. Using TIF funding and the other mechanisms is a healthy way to restore both properties to being significant tax contributors again.

But, there also are other elements we like about these projects. They are diverse. The Cotton Mill is in a service sector of business that will strengthen the tourism and retail landscape while the Armor development is in the manufacturing sector. This spreads out risk and provides a diverse array of job opportunities for the local work force.

The projects are spread apart geographically. With the Cotton Mill in the southeast area of downtown and the Armor project in the northwest area of the hilltop, the two sites could hardly be further apart geographically and still be within the city. The plan balances the benefits between the hilltop and downtown, which is often a sore point with local residents and business owners.

Investment is local. Both projects are backed by local investors. That means that the money is recycled through the community. It also means that the investors have a larger stake in this community. Like the rest of us, they have a choice of where they want to live and they have chosen this area.

It feels like Madison is on a roll economically with the Stellar designation, with at least two significant downtown housing developments — the Tack Factory and the Elks rebuilding effort — Royer’s expansion downtown, expansion at Grote Industries, and now these two major developments. This type of momentum does not happen by chance. City government officials and local economic development specialists deserve a pat on the back.

Residents should come together and support these new economic opportunities. It is up to all of us to help make these opportunities pay off for everyone in our community.

— The Madison Courier