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Celebrating Main Street’s bounceback

April 25, 2022
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WEDC honors local projects, Main Street volunteers at Fond du Lac ceremony

FOND DU LAC, WI. APRIL 22, 2022 – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) recognized the best downtown revitalization projects of 2021 at the 31st Wisconsin Main Street Awards ceremony held at the historic Hotel Retlaw in downtown Fond du Lac.

“Our Main Street businesses and communities are thriving thanks to the hard work and creativity of business owners, local Main Street professionals and dedicated volunteers,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “The projects, businesses and people recognized tonight should inspire us all to help make our own communities better.”

Hughes and other WEDC leaders were on hand to recognize the successful projects taking place in Wisconsin’s 34 Main Street communities and 81 Connect Communities. The Main Street and Connect Communities programs are administered by WEDC with a goal of helping Wisconsin’s communities revitalize their business districts.

While the Main Street program and its companion, Connect Communities, are WEDC’s signature downtown development initiatives, helping small businesses recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic requires more support, Hughes said. That’s why Governor Tony Evers and WEDC created the Main Street Bounceback grants, she said.

In March, the state celebrated a milestone with Main Street Bounceback grants having been made in all 72 counties. More than 3,700 grants have been made statewide as of April 7.

“These $10,000 grants awarded to business owners and nonprofits moving into vacant commercial spaces enliven downtowns with new businesses giving visitors and residents alike new reasons to head to Main Street,” Hughes said. “And for the existing businesses that worked so hard to adapt to the pandemic and meet the needs of customers, employees and communities, these new neighbors add vibrancy and support.”

Since the program’s inception in 1987, Wisconsin Main Street community projects have resulted in the creation of more than 3,000 new businesses and nearly 16,000 net new jobs. In addition, $2.5 billion in public and private investment has occurred in Wisconsin Main Street communities.

During fiscal year 2021, Wisconsin Main Street communities began to recover from the effects of the pandemic, welcoming a near-record number of new businesses, with 216 businesses opening their doors. Although some businesses were lost during the period, the net gain of 134 businesses was still among the top five yearly gains in program history.

A Main Street entrepreneurship study that looked at trends in Main Street businesses from 2019-2021 found that about 38% of Main Street businesses were owned by women and 10% were owned by minorities.

Nearly 25,000 volunteer hours were committed to the Main Street effort by dedicated individuals from around the state.

The projects recognized at the Fond du Lac ceremony – which include some Main Street Bounceback recipients – are business and community development initiatives, historic preservation, community celebration and revitalization success stories from communities across Wisconsin.

2022 Main Street Award recipients

Recognition of the best downtown revitalization projects at the 31st Wisconsin Main Street Awards ceremony held at the historic Hotel Retlaw in downtown Fond du Lac.

2021 Competitive award-winning projects and businesses

Best Upper Floor Development
Winner: Newburg Flats on Pearl, La Crosse

Best New Business
Co-Winner: The Cellar District, Fond du Lac
Co-Winner: Hooked & Tagged, Eagle River

Best Interior Renovation Over $50,000
Winner: The Staple & The Stone Room, Osceola

Best Interior Renovation Project Under $50,000
Winner: Lux Cuts, Beloit
Honorable Mention: Bridal Boutique, Platteville

Best COVID Response – Community
Winner: Wishing Tree, Omro

Best COVID Response – Business
Winner: Gather, On Broadway District, Green Bay

Best Image Item/Campaign/Event
Winner: Downtown Decks, La Crosse

Best Retail Event
Co-Winner: Main Street Morning Mixer, Watertown
Co-Winner: Art Walk, De Pere

Best Cooperative Business Marketing Campaign
Winner: Market Bucks, Fond du Lac

Diversity & Inclusion Award – Business
Winner: String Theory Studio, Chippewa Falls

Diversity & Inclusion Award – Community
Winner: McIntosh Memorial Library, Viroqua

Best Creative Fundraising Effort
Co-Winner: Tomahawk Main Street Lawn Dice Project, Tomahawk
Co-Winner: Valentine’s Day Gift Packages, La Crosse

Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown Revitalization
Winner: Heart of the Harbor, Port Washington

Best Volunteer Engagement
Winner: Knapp Stout Park Public Improvement, Rice Lake

Best Special Event
Co-Winner: Fondue Fest, Fond du Lac
Co-Winner: Mural & Busker Festival, On Broadway, Green Bay

Connect Communities Award – Best Revitalization Initiative – Under 5,000 Population
Winner: Black River Falls Business Video Series

Connect Communities Award – Best Revitalization Initiative – Over 5,000 Population
Winner: Waupaca Streetscape & Public Art Installation

Best New Building Project
Winner: ABC Supply Stadium, Beloit

Best Business Success Story
Winner: Zodica Perfumery, Monroe

Best Storefront Display
Winner: Endless Designs, Marshfield

Best Public Improvement Project
Winner: Michael J. Walsh Plaza, De Pere
Honorable Mention: Mural Project, Fond du Lac

Best Business Transition Success Story
Winner: The Milk Merchant, Wausau

Best Façade Rehabilitation Over $20,000
Winner: Leithold Music, La Crosse
Honorable Mention: Sunrise Donut Café, Monroe

Best Façade Rehabilitation Under $20,000
Winner: Bespoke, Fond du Lac

Historic Preservation Education Initiative
Winner: The Warehouse Community Arts Center, Eagle River

Best Historic Restoration Project
Winner: Fortney Building, Viroqua

Corporate Supporter Award
Winner: Evan Koshak, Tomahawk

Wisconsin Main Street Hall of Fame 2021 Inductee
Chuck Law – UW Extension


Individuals recognized for exemplary service included:

Executive Director Years of Service Awards

  • Tina Quigley – De Pere (5 years)
  • Shirl Breunig – Sheboygan Falls (11 years)
  • Teri Ouimette – Chippewa Falls (12 years)
  • Dianne Eineichner – West Allis (14 years)
  • Amy Hansen – Fond du Lac (15 years)
  • Craig Tebon – Ripon (30 years)

2021 Wisconsin Main Street Volunteers of the Year

  • Tim Taylor – Beloit
  • Kirsten Quam – Fond du Lac
  • Ken & Francine Roviski – Green Bay
  • Will Kratt – La Crosse
  • Stacey Schraufnagel – Lake Mills
  • Brad Remmen – Marshfield
  • Patrick Bielfuss – Menomonie
  • Steve Moon – Monroe
  • Angie Zeno – Omro
  • Ruth Sattler – Osceola
  • Dana Priebusch – Platteville
  • Justine Bundgaard – Rice Lake
  • Shad Tenpas – Sheboygan Falls
  • Jeffrey Johnson – Tomahawk
  • Randy Skinner – Viroqua
  • Jonathan Lampe – Watertown
  • Lindsey Lewitzke – Wausau

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