Vibrant downtowns contribute to communities’ overall success by driving economic activity—tourism-related and otherwise—and helping to attract new talent. That’s why one of WEDC’s top priorities is to support communities throughout the state as they invest in improving their business districts. Through a suite of grant programs, WEDC provides financial and technical assistance to Wisconsin businesses and communities to help them take advantage of opportunities that improve their economic future.
Two grant programs in particular, Community Development Investment (CDI) Grants and Idle Sites Redevelopment Grants, are aimed at funding redevelopment in communities. CDI Grants provide financial support for shovel-ready projects, with an emphasis on downtown community-driven efforts. Idle Sites Grants help redevelop large sites that have been idle, abandoned or underutilized for a period of at least five years. Both grant programs can help transform communities by investing in services and infrastructure which that economic health, a better quality of life and a sense of community.
“WEDC works closely with communities, property owners and developers to assist in the planning, management and implementation of strategic development projects in downtowns and adjacent areas all across Wisconsin,” says Barb LaMue, vice president of business and community development for WEDC. “We recognize that a vibrant city center is a key factor for talent attraction and also leads to adjacent development to the community’s core. Our programs help attract private investment in which the community benefits from an increasing tax base, attracting additional investment and creating a more vibrant place for talent to reside.”
Recent CDI Grants awarded by WEDC include:
City of Fond du Lac: WEDC awarded the City of Fond du Lac a $90,000 state grant to redevelop a vacant commercial building into The Livery Lofts, featuring an upscale tavern and residential lofts. The CDI Grant will support the renovation of the building to improve the exterior façade and support the change from a fully commercial use to a mixed-use development.
City of Prairie du Chien: WEDC awarded the City of Prairie du Chien a $250,000 state grant to fund the construction of a new downtown hotel—a $3.8 million project expected to be completed this August. The CDI Grant will support the development of the Waterfront Hotel, a three-story hotel that will have 57 rooms. The newly constructed hotel will sit on the riverfront of the Mississippi River, and will also be adjacent to the highway.
City of Superior: WEDC awarded the City of Superior a $148,400 state grant to redevelop the former Soo Line freight depot into a microbrewery and restaurant. The CDI Grant will support the relocation of Thirsty Pagan Brewery to the 7,500-square-foot depot. The project will include renovations of the existing building to accommodate a 120-seat taproom, as well as construction of a new kitchen and new electrical and HVAC systems.
Recent Idle Sites Grants awarded by WEDC include:
Village of Ashwaubenon: WEDC awarded the Village of Ashwaubenon a $234,000 state grant to redevelop an industrial site into a stadium and event venue. The stadium will be the new home of the Green Bay Booyahs, a Northwoods baseball league team, as well as a community event and concert venue.
City of Brillion: WEDC awarded the City of Brillion a $500,000 state grant to finance the redevelopment of the former Brillion Iron Works site. The grant will be used to redevelop a 70-acre parcel into a new research and development facility for Ariens Co. to support the company’s operations, engineering and supply chain logistics.
City of Stoughton: WEDC awarded the City of Stoughton a $500,000 state grant to help raze a vacant downtown building to make way for new development on the property and to help fund construction of a riverwalk trail and a pedestrian bridge from the downtown site to Mandt Park. In addition, the WEDC funds will enable the city to complete environmental assessments on the site and restore the riverbank.