Events across the state will recognize best in class downtown revitalization projects, business successes and welcome new program members.
MADISON, WI. July 7, 2020 – Local officials and business representatives will host events recognizing the critical role downtown business districts play in Wisconsin’s economy as part of Wisconsin Main Street Days between Tuesday, July 7, and Friday, July 10.
In lieu of an in-person awards ceremony bringing people together in one place around the state, smaller groups will gather for award presentations and photo opportunities (and in some cases virtual events) in 29 communities around the state to celebrate 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. Events will include award presentations, new program announcements and local proclamations in honor of Main Street Days. Additional recognitions will be made over social media using the hashtag #WIMainSt.
“Main Street Day recognizes the importance of downtowns in all our cities and towns, as well as the Main Street and Connect Communities programs that help them grow,” said Governor Tony Evers, who issued a proclamation announcing Main Street Days. “It reflects our commitment to all our Wisconsin communities, which is why we’ll be honoring them throughout the state this week.”
A list of communities and projects receiving awards is included in this release, along with a brief paragraph detailing the unique local success stories being recognized at the event.
As part of the Wisconsin Main Street Days celebration, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced the acceptance of Downtown Ashland into the Wisconsin Main Street Program, joining 34 existing Main Street districts. This designation will provide Ashland’s downtown district with additional technical resources and assistance to further their revitalization goals.
The Wisconsin Main Street Program, which launched in 1987 and is overseen by WEDC, provides support and training for organizations dedicated to downtown revitalization efforts. Since the program’s inception, Wisconsin Main Street communities have created more than 2,800 net new businesses and over 15,000 net new jobs. They also have generated more than $2.1 billion in public and private investment since then and are renovating more than 250 buildings per year.
Additionally, four 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 efforts. The new participants include Blair, Black River Falls, Juneau and Sun Prairie.
With these additions, there are now a total of 78 Connect Communities. The Connect Communities 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 communities have created more than 430 net new businesses and over 1,600 net new jobs and spurred $2.7 billion in public and private investment.
“The Connect Communities Program aids communities in leveraging the unique assets of their downtowns and commercial districts by providing them with access to resources, training and networking opportunities with other downtown organizations,” explained WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “This program, along with the Wisconsin Main Street Program, has helped propel new businesses and revitalize downtowns, and we are looking forward to the same type of success in our newest participating Main Street and Connect Communities.”
As another initiative to support the health of Wisconsin’s downtowns, this year WEDC helped create the Main Street Marketplace, a website that allows online shoppers to patronize their favorite Main Street community businesses, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 230 businesses, selling everything from food and clothing to books and crafts, can be found on mainstreetwi.com.