“We have so much good ahead of us.”
That serves as a sort of anthem for Will Kratt, a civil engineer and associate principle at ISG Design Firm.
Raised in La Crosse, which he still calls his home, the young transportation engineer originally sought out his career because of his personal interest in science, technology, engineering and math, but he’s succeeded because of the opportunities it affords him to team up with passionate and talented people.
It’s the people, you see, who always count most.
“I like to observe what’s going on around me,” Kratt, an admitted “people person” said. “I guess I see more of the good than the bad.”
That makes him an ideal fit within the walls of ISG, which he said provides a culture of encouragement, understanding and family-centered priorities, both for the public and its own employees. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, then, that one of the key terms in urban planning, “livability,” is also embraced by Kratt and his cohorts.
“You see design and planning teams going to the people,” he said, “instead of making the people come to us.”
While his focus is on transportation, Kratt works alongside multi-disciplined teams who look at downtown master plans, highway construction, city streets and many other engineering facets. It’s a heady, comprehensive look at what the community needs to succeed as a whole.
“It’s really about our involvement in the community,” Kratt said of his work at ISG. “We really have the pulse of our community.”
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For Kratt, that comes from his personal, continued commitment to La Crosse, which Downtown Mainstreet Inc.’s executive director, Robin Moses, acknowledged when she nominated Kratt for Rising Stars Under 40.
“Will has taken the lead in many new downtown initiatives,” Moses said. “He was named volunteer of the year at our 25th anniversary annual meeting. Will’s fresh approach to downtown is the way of the future.”
Among his many achievements, Kratt designed and led the downtown parklet program, volunteered on the Downtown Mainstreet Inc. design and beautification committee (since 2013), chaired the Great City Growing Greater campaign, and chairs DMI’s economic restructuring committee, as well as starting a new group for young downtown leaders.
Kratt said he’s most impressed with La Crosse’s ability to reinvent itself over the years, from an industry hub to a hub for health care and education, and he’s always looking to ask, “What happens next?”
No matter what that means, his hope is that folks will always answer it with, “We’re choosing La Crosse.” Hopefully, too, he said, those are the same people who come to transportation meetings, voicing what they’d like to see happen within their city and its corridors of travel. Their opinions aren’t just sought, he said, they’re actually listened to.
“It’s purely genuine,” Kratt said of his interest.
It’s that silver lining of hope that gilds everything Kratt does in his professional and personal life. For him, he sees every challenge as an opportunity.
“We really can evolve and progress forward,” he said.