New London high school graduate’s research earns state award
By Robert Cloud
A 2021 New London High School graduate earned second place statewide for her research on downtown revitalization.
Emily Kling presented her research to the New London Economic Development Committee at its June 29 meeting.
Kling’s project was part of a statewide competition sponsored by DECA, a national organization that prepares high school and college students to be potential leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
Working with April Kopitzke, executive director of the New London Chamber of Commerce, Kling researched the downtown businesses.
“We have access to dues-paying chamber member’s information, but that left us without insight on the other 29% of businesses in New London,” Kling said. “So, I called, emailed, left messages, even went door-to-door in some instances, to gather all this data.”
King also worked with Lori Dehlinger Van Alstine, who was the director of Main Street Waupaca when the program was active in the early 2000s.
“Cities with vacant space suffer from all kinds of hidden costs,” Kling said.
She told the committee that just one vacant 2,000-square-foot store on Main Street can cost the local economy about $250,000 annually.
In addition to unpaid property and sales taxes, a vacant store means lost revenues in the form of wages, bank deposits, loans, rental payments, sales and profits.
“Vacant lots are not only empty space, but also lost money,” Kling said.
At the time Kling was doing her research, New London’s downtown had 20 vacant buildings. She estimated that the local economy was losing $5 million per year.
She noted a recent rebound in the local economy.
“We’ve gone from 20 vacant lots to just two,” Kling said.
Kopitzke said New London is looking at involvement in the state’s Main Street program and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Connect Communities program.
“Enrollment in these programs has an abundance of opportunities,” Kopitzke said.