Checolinski leaving the SCEDC, but not the Area: Reflects on last Decade
SCEDC – Dane Checolinski, Director at the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC), is resigning after nearly a decade of service.
“Many accomplishments have taken place with Dane’s assistance. He has grown over the past 9+ years and has made a very positive influence on Sheboygan County,” stated Gary Dulmes, Chair of the SCEDC for the better portion of the time that Dane has been with the SCEDC. “I wish him success in the future.”
Joining in spring of 2011, the SCEDC was a new, inspiring entity seeking to create jobs during the recovery of the Great Recession. “At that time, we had thousands of people out of work,” recalled Checolinski, “Government entitlements was the main way we helped by assisting firms navigate state and local tax incentives.”
“In 2014 something changed,” noted Checolinski, “The economy went from idling to a full sprint. The number one barrier to local growth was no longer about creating jobs but filling them.” This was the first year when we realized the lack of housing development was causing major hiring challenges. “We didn’t know what we were doing, but we knew we couldn’t just let the problem persist,” laughed Checolinski. “The first thing you do when you don’t know is to educate yourself.” As a result, the SCEDC ordered the first housing study indicating that 300 apartments were needed in total. Checolinski notes that the study was incredibly conservative and subsequent studies indicate the number is more like 230 apartments needed every year.
As jobs continued to grow, the SCEDC wanted to give companies tools to aid in relocating employees to Sheboygan County, thus www.SomeplaceBetter.org was born. “The suggestion for marketing materials and a website to sell Sheboygan County as a place to live came directly from the local human resource departments,” noted Checolinski. “The SCEDC has always prided itself on listening to company concerns and creating community-based solutions.” In partnership with the Sheboygan County Chamber, SomeplaceBetter.org took life. Since its launch in 2016, analytics on the website show that over 25,000 people who do not live in Sheboygan County have looked for work here, fulfilling the primary intent of the website.
Since 2016, the SCEDC has been involved creating The Joseph Project, bringing employees from Milwaukee to Sheboygan, working with Inspire Sheboygan County to enlarge the high-school co-op program, rehabbing the oldest commercial building in Plymouth with the City of Plymouth, collaborating with UW-Green Bay Small Business Development Center to place a full-time small business counselor in Sheboygan County at no costs to entrepreneurs and setting the vision for an Innovation District.
During Checolinski’s tenure, the SCEDC as a team, aided no less than 150 companies, oversaw $417 million in investment, impacted 4,885 jobs and encouraged development of 1,600 housing units (more units than the Village of Howards Grove) for Sheboygan County.
In 2018, the SCEDC was recognized with the Wisconsin Economic Development Association’s Organization of Excellence Award, cementing its place among the elite economic development organizations in the state. “We had the advantage of having a great team, board members and stakeholders in our organization,” stated Checolinski. “The SCEDC is an organization that prides itself on having the right people in the room with honest conversations. Success was no accident and was the result of good people and great partnerships.”
“From the bottom of my heart, I wish to thank all the community and business leaders, entrepreneurs and the people who make Sheboygan County a fantastic place,” stated Checolinski. “The work of the SCEDC will continue and I wish them the best.”
The SCEDC is in the process of selecting a new Executive Director to take over for long-time community servant, Dr. Joseph Sheehan, former Sheboygan Area School District Superintendent. Sheehan will again retire allowing for a new leadership to run this invaluable local non-profit.
Checolinski will continue to work in Sheboygan County. He is opening a commercial real estate brokerage office with NAI Pfefferle, based in Appleton, to service Sheboygan and Manitowoc Counties. Checolinski’s last day in the SCEDC office is Friday, September 11th.