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W W W . F O R W A R D J A N E S V I L L E . C O M

A Passion for

Downtown Development

What does it take to truly transform a downtown?

Building Blocks

For decades, Quint Studer worked to perfect the art of

patient satisfaction, first in a variety of roles for health care

providers like Parkside Lodge, Mercy Health System,

Holy Cross Hospital and Baptist Hospital, and later as

president and founder of Studer Group consulting. Today,

however, he’s taking that passion for process to downtown


“Research proves again and again that downtown

development is critical to urban growth. In the end, it’s all

about the jobs. A vibrant city attracts and creates jobs.

Then the demand for workers raises wages and this

money goes back into the city, which creates more and

better paying jobs,” said Studer.

Few Janesville residents aren’t at least passingly familiar

with Block 42, the Janesville downtown development

Studer, his wife Rishy Studer, and his daughter Bekki

Kennedy have been working hard to make a reality since

fall 2015. By the time this article goes to press, the

Janesville Business Challenge winner may well be hard

at work making their dream business a reality within Block

42, thanks to $52,000 in funding coupled with multiple

coaching and other supportive services, and the first three

new businesses to call Block 42 home are scheduled to

be up and running October 1. Going into September, the

first 22 employees have already been hired.

Block 42 isn’t the first downtown development project

Studer has undertaken. He and Rishy were an integral part

of the Pensacola, FL, downtown revitalization and are

modeling their approach in Janesville based on that

project’s success. “During my travels, I observed many

cities that were taking steps to be more vibrant. In 2004,

I met the CEO/Chairman of the Gallup Corporation, Jim

Clifton. He mentioned Gallup had just published their

largest study on economic development. The report

examined why some cities grow while others do not, and

the findings were illuminating. In short, a vital downtown

was critical to success,” he said.

Studer points out that the things that make for a thriving

downtown naturally lend themselves to success. For

example, most downtowns build up rather that out, relying

on vertical expansion to grow given limited real estate.

This expands the property tax base significantly and helps

build momentum for continued growth. Ample downtown

entertainment options—from restaurants and bars to

entertainment venues—also attract young talent,

ensuring continued future growth and easing attraction

and retention concerns.

Programming formal downtown entertainment designed

to draw large crowds also helps, he said. “You want to

offer events that bring people downtown so they can see

the difference for themselves. Theaters, sporting events,

concerts, festivals, markets—anything that encourages

visitors to walk through the downtown area. As they pass

the new venues they naturally begin thinking, ‘Yes, I’d like

to go out here and perhaps even live downtown.’ That

experience is important, especially in the early stages.”

A university presence can also be a significant force,

maximizing intellectual capital and shielding cities from

the coming “job war,” where talent attraction and retention

will be at a premium. “Attracting and keeping young

talent, and entrepreneurs, is a recipe for success. Beloit is

a great example. They leveraged private investment—a

key piece if you want to move fast—to transform their

downtown,” Studer said.

Studer and Gallup are not alone in their belief that a

vibrant downtown is reflective of a city’s economic

strength and resilience. Hundreds of non-profit

organizations, like the Downtown Development Center

and the Brookings Institute, fund research and offer

support materials designed help local municipalities plan

for the unique public/private partnership that downtown

development requires.

True transformation, however, doesn’t necessarily come

easily. Staying the course, and maintaining enthusiasm

in the face of detractors, is imperative. Said Studer, “In

Pensacola, people talk about how much has been done in

the last five years, but truly we started 12 years ago.

Things take a long time to hit critical mass. And there are

going to be some people who just don’t understand what

you’re trying to do. Some naysayers will never be

convinced, and that’s just the way it is. I’ve found you need

to focus on those on the fence when building support.

Help educate them about the potential. A city’s downtown

truly is the barometer of future success for any city.” •

• Do


to understand your audience

• Support


to increase property tax base

• Program downtown




—minimize one-way streets, provide easy flow in and out


to complement public resources


who will benefit from increased retention

• Invest heavily in


, especially in the early stages


; not everyone will be on board and that’s okay


Block 42

is a storefront

renovation project in

downtown Janesville

undertaken by Quint and Rishy

Studer and their daughter

Bekki Kennedy. Located

between 117 and 123 N. Main

Street, the project is

revitalizing some of the oldest

storefront locations in


What is

Block 42?