When people are looking at getting out of the rat race of the big cities, what are they going to be looking for? That has been a quest of mine as I’ve traveled around the country, visiting towns and doing interviews.
I’m become more convinced that those towns that will survive and thrive are the ones that have special quality of life attributes, a unique feel about them, outstanding recreational assets and low cost of living.
I found all of those attributes in Sheboygan. The creative people who helped to develop the community have left behind an equally creative, dedicated and passionate citizenry. Sitting on the banks of Lake Michigan is a huge attribute. Having the Kohler hospitality and golf assets are very strong plus. The new Blue Harbor Resort, a Great Wolf Project, with 184 rooms, 64 condos, conference center and indoor water park is another huge advantage. The John Michael Kohler Art Center, the Stefanie Weill Theater, and Above and Beyond Children’s Museum also add much to the town.
Housing is still moderately attractive. We passed one house a half block from Lake Michigan with a view of the lake, priced at $60,000.
The downtown is showing signs of life after a consultant in the 1970s convinced them to close off the downtown streets, making it a pedestrian friendly shopping experience. The consultants from Georgia were convinced that the days of cars in our downtowns were over. They didn’t understand the ferocity of Wisconsin winters, were wrong and the downtown suffered dramatically.
Sheboygan is like a lot of towns. There are too many factions going off in different directions that need to develop a common shared vision of what they want their town to look like in the future. They’ve got everything to work with and after talking with them, I’m convinced that they are onto some of the best days of their lives.