TitletownTech: Development at the NFL Stadium

Rendering courtesy SGA Architects.

Rendering courtesy SGA Architects.

The image of Green Bay in the media: a lovely, limited bucolic region, a throwback to a simpler time. But the Green Bay Packers are working to generate economic development with the ambitious Titletown project, enhancing the local quality of life on multiple levels.

Or, rather, the Packers are seizing on existing trends and tailoring a mixed-use development to meet those trends. The Fox Valley—comprising Appleton, Green Bay and Oshkosh—is traditionally a manufacturing center, but the future of manufacturing isn’t solely focused on big plants and defense contracts, but rather a broader process that includes plenty of technology.

That means technology like supply-chain management and data-center management. That means advanced logistics. And that means high-tech approaches to old-school manufacturing. But there’s one issue: The Fox Valley, traditionally, has not been a technology hub on any level, trailing Madison and its vibrant medical-tech scene when it comes to Wisconsin. Raising that tech level has been a goal for local economic-development officials for years under the New North umbrella, and enhancing the local quality of life to attract the workers and investors needed to fuel the tech renaissance.

The emphasis on quality of life and economic development is embodied by the Green Bay Packers in the NFL team’s ambitious 45-acre Titletown project, located directly west of Lambeau Field. On the one hand, Titletown is designed to be a year-round destination, as opposed to drawing a crowd just on the eight NFL game days. Titletown includes the Hinterland Brewery (which relocated from downtown Green Bay; it was immediately replaced by another brewery), the Lodge Kohler hotel and the Bellin Health Sports Medicine and Orthopedics clinic. Much of what has been completed has been designed to enhance the Packers game-day experience, with a tubing hill, skating rink and playground. Phase two adds 220 residences and a four-to-five story office building with 130,000 square feet and approximately 100,000 square feet of future development to the mix.

But it’s the $10-million TitletownTech business incubator that may end up making the biggest impact in the region and perhaps the state. The Packers are partnering with high-tech firms like Microsoft, as well as educational institutions like UW-Green Bay and the UW System Economic Development Office, to create a business incubator with the following components, according to the Packers:

An innovation lab, focused on creating new ventures: where entrepreneurs and established regional businesses can engage to develop ideas, explore disruptive new business models and next-generation technology solutions;

A venture studio, focused on building ventures: where new and emerging business models and scalable industry solutions are developed into stand-alone startup ventures;

A venture fund, focused on funding and investing in high-growth startups aligned with industries in Northeastern Wisconsin that will bring opportunity to the region.

The targeted industries for TitletownTech: sports and entertainment tech; digital health; supply chain; agriculture, environment and water (AEW); and advanced manufacturing. Some of this builds upon existing trends in Wisconsin economic development (Milwaukee is a hub for water tech research), while other addresses perceived needs in the marketplace.

Multipurpose developments next to a collegiate or NFL stadium is one of the big trends in stadium construction and finance. The Packers are pushing the envelope in a unique way, creating spaces next to Lambeau Field that not only enhance the game-day experience but could potentially make an economic impact across the entire Fox Valley.

Alex Ferrara