By Roger Utnehmer
President and CEO
Thoughts for Door County From a Cape Cod Visit.
Many similarities and a few contrasts provide the opportunity for the Cape Cod of the Midwest, otherwise known as Door County, to learn from the Door County of the east coast, otherwise known as Cape Cod.
Both claim scenic beauty, similar architecture, abundant opportunities for arts and entertainment, traffic congestion, non-resident property ownership and impressive shoreline preservation.
Contrasts are rooted in regulations. Billboards and plastic bags are banned throughout Cape Cod. Signs warn of fines of up to $10,000 for littering. There is not a single stop sign or traffic light on Nantucket Island. Roundabouts, called rotaries, control traffic. Zoning protects business districts and residential neighborhoods from exploitation, eye-sores, big box stores and chains. Consistent architectural integrity is part of what creates the charm that is Cape Cod.
When dying oysters in a Nantucket bay were connected to lawn chemicals, landscapers voluntarily stopped using chemicals and came up with other options. Public sewer and water systems were extended to rural areas when beaches were threatened and well water polluted.
A four-lane highway through the center of the cape keeps traffic from congesting small communities along either side.
Like Door County, Cape Cod businesses express the need for an immigration policy that would allow them to hire foreign workers.
Affordable housing is a serious challenge. Bar and restaurant owners provide housing accommodations for staff. A ferry fee for those having a thirty-mile one-way commute is part of the compensation package for workers in the trades and hospitality industries.
Economic development is as much retail and hospitality as it is healthcare or light industry.
Main streets are vibrant and there was not a Walmart to be found, not that anyone was looking.
Preserving charm is what Cape Cod has done best and it is what Door County can learn to assure a future as prosperous as it is beautiful.
That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.