City of Brookfield — From intern to coordinator.

It may sound like a dream, a meteoric rise, or even the plot of an Adam Sandler movie, but it’s reality for Todd Willis, the new economic development coordinator in the city of Brookfield.

Willis began work at his new position Nov. 28, even before earning officially earning his Masters of Public Administration from UW-Milwaukee in December.

Familiar surroundings

Prior to signing on at the head of the city’s future economic aspirations, Willis worked directly under his predecessor, Tim Casey, who hired him as an intern prior to leaving the city in August to lead the new Waukesha County Business Alliance.

“The timing couldn’t have been more perfect," Willis said. "When the opportunity came along to intern here I gladly put in my resume just because of the standing that Brookfield has in the metropolitan area. The opportunity to learn under Tim, I jumped at that opportunity and it all worked out so well.”

Before his time working in Brookfield, Willis interned with the village of Whitefish Bay and worked as a special projects coordinator in the city of St. Francis.

Willis says that he is excited to work on the continued growth in the area of 124th Street and Capitol Drive and the city’s Village Area on Brookfield Road.

Village a special place

“I did a lot of stuff in the Village when I was still an intern and then kind of in that transition phase from intern to economic development coordinator when Tim left there were a lot of events up there like the art crawl and the tree lighting,” Willis said. “I always enjoy working down in the Village and I think that’s a pretty unique, special place.”

Brookfield director of community development Dan Ertl effused about Willis having already established a good relationship with the Village Area.

“He’s been instrumental in helping the Village business district progress to its next level,” Ertl said.

Other projects on Willis’ radar in the near future include continuing to work with developer Irgens on The Corridor and concocting a new neighborhood plan for the Bishops Woods Office Park near Bluemound and Sunny Slope roads.

Slightly different role

When Casey left the city, mayor Steve Ponto and Ertl agreed that his replacement would have some different duties due to Casey’s wealth of qualifications having previously morphed the position.

“They will be slightly different. (Willis) doesn’t have the real estate license that Tim had been able to offer to the community. He’s not an adjunct professor who could draw students in for mentoring or providing internships,” Ertl said. “I’ll also be taking over working with Visit Brookfield more, at least initially.”

Still, Willis’ duties will be extensive, ranging from reaching out to new businesses, maintaining the health and well-being of the community’s existing businesses and spurring growth, particularly in a few target areas around the community.

“Todd has demonstrated, over the past year, strong organization skills, business outreach attributes and community event support,” Ertl said. “There are some distinctions between Todd’s role and Tim’s role, but it will evolve over time. We look forward to Todd being a part of our team.”

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