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Matthew Schreiber, Columbus' Director of Planning and Development, looks through the city's TIF districts map in his office Dec. 15. Schreiber plans to work with businesses to increase economic growth in Columbus.

Kevin Damask, Columbus Journal

As Columbus embarks on a new era of growth, Matthew Schreiber plans to be the man at the forefront.

Schreiber was recently hired as the city’s director of planning and development. His first day at city hall was Dec. 11.

Part of Schreiber’s job will be leading the city’s economic development efforts, which include the revolving loan fund, working with Columbus’ two Tax Incremental Districts and other ways to spur economic growth.

His planning duties will include analyzing re-zoning permits, conditional use applications and other items before they proceed to the Columbus Plan Commission.

“Along with economic development, I want to get out and meet business owners,” Schreiber said. “I plan to attend most of the Chamber of Commerce (Board of Directors) meetings to have a pulse of what’s going on and to provide assistance.”

Schreiber has ties to Fall River. His grandfather, Ralph Schreiber, was a home builder in the Columbus-Fall River area and his father, Wayne, also grew up in Fall River.

Columbus has two TIF districts, both on the western edge of the city. Most municipalities have TIFs to attract business to mostly undeveloped areas. In Columbus, TIF 3 includes the Commerce Center, which includes Shopko and Sentry stores, while TIF 4 includes Ottery Brothers Truck Wash, Duffy Fleet Services, Fromm Family Foods and the new Drexel development.

In the coming months, Schreiber wants to increase publicity of the revolving loan fund. The city has $168,000 available to loan to businesses, primarily for companies who plan to create new jobs.

“The purpose of the fund is to leverage personal financing,” Schreiber said. “It basically gives the business the financing it needs. There are certain requirements to it but it can be used in a variety of ways.”

Schreiber’s role combines parts of two previous city positions. Dave Carlson, the city’s previous economic development director, left Columbus in May to pursue a similar position in Whitewater. In September, the city bid farewell to longtime clerk Anne Donahue who handled zoning issues. Donahue was replaced by Megan Moen who will take care of more traditional clerk duties.

“It’s a little different approach, but I’m excited to operate as an organization a little more efficiently,” said City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden.

With Columbus continuing to develop its TIF districts, Vander Sanden believed the position was needed.

“Our developments have kept us busy and we wanted someone in here who’s familiar with land use and made sure we’re growing appropriately as people want to come in to develop in Columbus,” Vander Sanden said.

The city administrator said Schreiber will also work on enforcing the city’s property maintenance code, revising Columbus’ 10-year comprehensive plan, and work with Vanden Sanden on economic planning.

Schreiber earned a bachelor’s degree in Geography from UW-Oshkosh and a master’s degree in Urban Planning at UW-Milwaukee. He started his career in 2005 and spent the past three years working for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“Along the line I had various levels of experience with economic development, transportation and long-range planning and that’s what kind of brought me to the job here because it’s kind of suited to some of the things I’ve worked on in the past,” Schreiber said.

In Columbus, Schreiber will have the opportunity to handle multiple issues, from working with businesses on short-term goals to maintaining the city’s long-term vision. Schreiber also wants to help existing businesses succeed and grow.

“I want them to know the city is here to support them,” Schreiber said.

He believes the city has a good opportunity for growth, especially with the Sun Prairie area expanding north along the Highway 151 corridor. As areas along Highway 16 continue to develop, Schreiber also sees potential growth in property near Highway 73.

“I think there’s good opportunity there for commercial and industrial-type development,” Schreiber said. “There is a strong manufacturing base in the city, which is good.”

Outside of city hall, Schreiber enjoys spending time with his wife, Laura, and 20-month-old daughter, Maggie. When he’s not chasing a toddler, Schreiber follows Wisconsin sports and is a devout Badgers fan. He also spends free time golfing and camping with his family.

To contact Schreiber, email mschreiber@columbuswi.us.

Contact Kevin Damask at 608-963-7323 or on Twitter @kdamask