Investing in Wisconsin communities
The strength of Wisconsin’s economy is directly linked to the strength of its communities—including quality services and infrastructure to support economic competitiveness. Through the Community Development Investment (CDI) Grant Program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is helping revitalize and transform communities by supporting local development that is as unique as the communities in Wisconsin.
The program supports urban, small city and rural community redevelopment efforts by providing financial incentives for shovel-ready projects, with emphasis on downtown community-driven efforts. According to the program criteria, a successful project is one that leads to measurable benefits in job opportunities, property values and/or leveraged investment by local and private partners.
In FY17, WEDC awarded $3.4 million in CDI Grants to 16 communities for a wide array of projects that will boost the economy and improve quality of life for the people who live and work in those towns.
The 16 communities receiving awards through an open application process are:
- Village of Prairie du Sac, $47,875
- Milwaukee County, $250,000
- City of Kaukauna, $234,643
- City of Menomonie, $250,000
- City of Milwaukee, $250,000
- Village of Sauk City, $250,000
- City of Marshfield, $250,000
- Village of Marathon City, $250,000
- City of Oshkosh, $250,000
- Village of Mount Horeb, $249,000
- City of Superior, $109,877
- City of Wausau, $250,000
- City of Prairie du Chien, $33,750
- Dane County, $250,000
- City of Madison, $250,000
- City of Ashland, $250,000
In one example, the City of Prairie du Chien will use the funds to support the redevelopment of a former clothing store into Café Hope and Unity Adult Daycare, a project that will be overseen by the Crawford County Opportunity Center.
The center will provide services to adults who need enriched social or health-supportive experiences or who may need assistance with daily living activities. The center already has the capacity to serve about 40 people in the building, but the redevelopment could increase that to 100. Unity will initially open with four full-time employees, but that could increase to 16 if the facility reaches capacity.
“As an organization, the Opportunity Center must be creative, innovative and determined in finding ways to engage our clients in the community, to provide challenging employment opportunities, and to diversify our sources of income,” says Pam Ritchie, CEO of the Opportunity Center. “This project does all those things while making an important investment in the historic downtown.”
The Opportunity Center, which provides services to adults with disabilities, has a need for new and expanded services. “We saw an unfilled need in the community and, through this project, we are working to meet it,” says Ritchie.
WEDC continues to with communities across Wisconsin to help revitalize their downtowns. A vibrant downtown not only draws new businesses and customers to the area, but is essential to the overall economic health of a community. When companies are considering relocating or expanding in Wisconsin, one of the areas they look at is the vitality of a city’s downtown area, which plays a role in attracting and retaining employees.
Since the program’s inception in 2013, WEDC has awarded $15.9 million in CDI Grants for projects expected to generate more than $273 million in capital investments statewide.