Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, WEDC Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer Tricia R. Braun, and scores of local officials celebrated this year’s Main Street Day on July 24 with events in Green Bay, Two Rivers, Wausau, Eau Claire, Jefferson and Ashland.
The annual event celebrates the success of the Wisconsin Main Street and Connect Communities Programs, which provide technical support and training for organizations dedicated to downtown or commercial corridor revitalization activities.
“Main Street Day recognizes the importance of downtowns in all our cities and towns, as well as the Main Street and Connect Communities programs from WEDC that help them grow,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said. “It reflects our commitment to all our Wisconsin communities, which is why we’ll be honoring them throughout the state today.”
In Green Bay, Lt. Governor Barnes visited the Shipyard, a major redevelopment project that will remediate brownfields, provide new public access to the Fox River, and develop new facilities for outdoor recreation, entertainment and economic development. A Brownfields Grant from WEDC contributed part of the cost of remediation for the project.
In Two Rivers, Lt. Governor Barnes participated in the groundbreaking for a new waterfront hotel complex that will redevelop the former Hamilton Industries property downtown. The project will be funded in part by a Community Development Investment (CDI) Grant from WEDC. Also in Two Rivers, the lieutenant governor helped 17-year-old entrepreneur Emilee Rysticken celebrate the grand opening of her new ice cream parlor, Scream ’N Conuts. Emilee’s signature product is the “Conut,” or a cone made out of doughnut dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar, lined with sauces and filled with Cedar Crest ice cream.
In Wausau, Deputy Secretary Braun celebrated the grand opening of the Whitewater Music Hall downtown. Owners and sister duo Kelly Ballard and Leslie Patterson have transformed the venue, formerly the Masonic Lodge, to offer live music, locally roasted coffee, microbrews, visual artwork and more.
Deputy Secretary Braun also took local media on a “sneak peek” of the newly renovated Eau Claire City Hall. The $6.4 million renovation project includes a $5.3 million interior remodeling, which began last summer, and $1.1 million in exterior work, which began in late 2017.
In Jefferson, WEDC and city officials celebrated the groundbreaking for the Riverfront Lofts, a $10 million downtown mixed-use redevelopment project. WEDC is providing a $250,000 Community Development Investment Grant for the project.
Finally, in Ashland, WEDC and local officials announced the opening of the Cobblestone Hotel property, the opening of the permanent location for a new furniture business and the unveiling of a new mural. The hotel project was funded in part by a CDI Grant from WEDC.
The Wisconsin Main Street Program, overseen by WEDC and launched in 1987, provides support and training for organizations dedicated to downtown revitalization efforts. Since the program’s creation, Wisconsin Main Street communities have created more than 2,700 net new businesses and more than 14,000 net new jobs, spurring more than $1.9 billion in public and private investment in downtowns.
Also on Wisconsin Main Street Day, WEDC announced that six new members have been accepted into the Connect Communities Program, an initiative designed to provide training and networking for communities or organizations working on revitalization topics. The new participants include Blanchardville, Eastside Business Improvement District (Milwaukee), Eau Claire, Evansville, Mukwonago and Windsor.
With these additions, there are now a total of 78 Connect Communities. The program offers options for communities looking to provide additional resources to support local commercial district businesses and property owners, as well as individuals interested in networking with other professionals. Since the Connect Communities Program launched in 2013, participating members have created more than 300 net new businesses and nearly 1,700 net new jobs and spurred $1.2 billion in public and private investment.