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PEOPLE BUILDING PLACES

Thriving communities fuel creativity and ambition. In Wisconsin, we invest in our communities to help both people and businesses grow, develop and contribute to our state’s economic vitality. From our industrial city centers to the tree-lined streets of our town squares, WEDC’s comprehensive community development programs and funding initiatives empower local officials to develop sustainable economic development strategies that increase prosperity while redevelopment programs provide financial assistance for activities that revitalize commercial districts. By providing community and business leaders access to this knowledge and support, we’ve helped them create stronger community cornerstones and build vibrant economic epicenters throughout Wisconsin.

WEDC PROGRAMS

BROWNFIELDS GRANT PROGRAM

Grants to local governments, businesses, nonprofits and individuals for developing commercial and industrial sites that have been adversely affected by environmental contamination.

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BROWNFIELDS SITE ASSESSMENT PROGRAM

Grant funds for approved projects to assist local governments with conducting initial environmental assessment and demolition activities on an eligible abandoned, idle or underutilized industrial or commercial site.

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CAPACITY BUILDING GRANTS

Grants to assist local and regional economic development groups to create an advanced economic development network within the state.

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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT INVESTMENT GRANT PROGRAM

Financial support for shovel-ready projects, with emphasis on downtown community efforts that deliver measurable benefits in job opportunities, property values, and/or leveraged investment by local and private partners.

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CONNECT COMMUNITIES

Resources, technical assistance and networking to support communities’ efforts to revitalize downtown districts.

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HISTORIC PRESERVATION TAX CREDIT

State income tax credit for 20 percent of the qualified rehabilitation expenditures for eligible buildings.

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IDLE SITES REDEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

Program for Wisconsin communities to support redevelopment plans for large sites that have been idle, abandoned or underutilized for at least five years.

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MINORITY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

Includes revolving loan funds offered through minority business associations and an annual conference that is the state’s premier event for minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

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WISCONSIN MAIN STREET PROGRAM

Program recognizes a commitment to preserving and revitalizing historic downtowns, and supporting these efforts with technical support, training and networking opportunities.

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WEDC SUCCESS STORIES

La Crosse

Created by a public-private partnership in 1990, Downtown Mainstreet Inc. of La Crosse spearheaded the creation of the city’s first comprehensive master plan for its downtown in order to address perceived economic deterioration of the city’s historic district. Today, La Crosse is one of the largest National Register Commercial Historic Districts in Wisconsin, containing 96 contributing buildings. Early preservation efforts led to the completion of a $2.9 million river levee project to protect downtown from Mississippi River flooding. In addition to serving a critical purpose, the project features a riverwalk, recreational boat docking facility, wayfinding signage and downtown streetscaping initiatives. In its first 12 years as a program, downtown gained 170 new residential units. More than 100 building and storefront façade restorations have been undertaken, resulting in an increase of $40 million in assessed property values. With the recruitment of major high-tech corporations such as Firstlogic and CenturyTel’s Midwest regional headquarters, employment is now at an all-time high, even surpassing employment at the height of the prosperous retail years. Today, downtown La Crosse is known for its arts scene (including a strong public art program and state-of-the-art Weber Center for the Performing Arts), as well as a commitment to downtown residential development (the Tour of Upper Living regularly sells out). Last year the downtown welcomed $12 million in private investment. This pales in comparison to the $191 million in projects currently under way, which are expected to add nearly 400 new hotel rooms, 246 residential units, and 145,000 new square feet of commercial space and generate more than $22 million in additional consumer activity. Read More

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City of Neenah

After a historic paper mill in downtown Neenah closed in 2006, the 16-acre site was in danger of becoming an eyesore that lowered property values and hindered economic development. Read More

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Al Ringling Theatre Renovation, Baraboo

WEDC contributed $249,455 toward a $3.2 million project to renovate and preserve the historic Al Ringling Theatre in downtown Baraboo. The project, completed in time for the theater’s 100th birthday, restored many of the building’s original fixtures, while also adding modern conveniences like updated restrooms and a bar. The theater regularly draws visitors from Madison and Milwaukee, and is responsible for driving foot traffic in the downtown area to support additional businesses. Other funding partners included the City of Baraboo, Jeffris Family Foundation and private contributions. The theater is in the process of expanding its staff by five to accommodate increased volume of activities and tours as a result of the project Read More

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On Broadway, Green Bay

The Broadway District sits on the west bank of the Fox River in Green Bay. As a riverfront location, the area has long been a center of commerce, whether for the fur trade, lumber, paper or, today, as a hive for small businesses and entrepreneurs. However, this transition was not without difficulty, as the 1980s saw the district become a high-crime area defined by disrepair and vacancy. In 1995, a group of persistent local merchants, neighbors and community leaders launched a Main Street organization to reclaim the street. Some early triumphs included a new streetscape, a partnership with local police, and creation of a supportive small business and live-work environment. As of 2009, the district had already achieved success, with the renovation of 91 properties and development of four new infill projects. Progress has continued since that time, with the addition of new residential opportunities and further reduction in storefront vacancies. The most notable change is the conversion of a former train depot and later an adjacent vegetable processing facility into the Titletown Brewery, restaurant, tap room and event center. Over its entire tenure, the district has had a net gain of 171 new businesses that employ more than 1,600 individuals, and has attracted just shy of $69 million in private investment to improve 167 buildings. With 45 statewide awards, the district is the ‘winningest’ community in the state, and is well-known for innovative adaptive reuse projects and regionally significant marketing and event initiatives that bring thousands to shop, dine and stroll during annual events such as the Winter Wine Walk and Wednesday and Saturday farmers’ markets. Read More

Read Story

Created by a public-private partnership in 1990, Downtown Mainstreet Inc. of La Crosse spearheaded the creation of the city’s first comprehensive master plan for its downtown in order to address perceived economic deterioration of the city’s historic district. Today, La Crosse is one of the largest National Register Commercial Historic Districts in Wisconsin, containing 96 contributing buildings. Early preservation efforts led to the completion of a $2.9 million river levee project to protect downtown from Mississippi River flooding. In addition to serving a critical purpose, the project features a riverwalk, recreational boat docking facility, wayfinding signage and downtown streetscaping initiatives. In its first 12 years as a program, downtown gained 170 new residential units. More than 100 building and storefront façade restorations have been undertaken, resulting in an increase of $40 million in assessed property values. With the recruitment of major high-tech corporations such as Firstlogic and CenturyTel’s Midwest regional headquarters, employment is now at an all-time high, even surpassing employment at the height of the prosperous retail years. Today, downtown La Crosse is known for its arts scene (including a strong public art program and state-of-the-art Weber Center for the Performing Arts), as well as a commitment to downtown residential development (the Tour of Upper Living regularly sells out). Last year the downtown welcomed $12 million in private investment. This pales in comparison to the $191 million in projects currently under way, which are expected to add nearly 400 new hotel rooms, 246 residential units, and 145,000 new square feet of commercial space and generate more than $22 million in additional consumer activity. Read More

Read Story

After a historic paper mill in downtown Neenah closed in 2006, the 16-acre site was in danger of becoming an eyesore that lowered property values and hindered economic development. Read More

Read Story

WEDC contributed $249,455 toward a $3.2 million project to renovate and preserve the historic Al Ringling Theatre in downtown Baraboo. The project, completed in time for the theater’s 100th birthday, restored many of the building’s original fixtures, while also adding modern conveniences like updated restrooms and a bar. The theater regularly draws visitors from Madison and Milwaukee, and is responsible for driving foot traffic in the downtown area to support additional businesses. Other funding partners included the City of Baraboo, Jeffris Family Foundation and private contributions. The theater is in the process of expanding its staff by five to accommodate increased volume of activities and tours as a result of the project Read More

Read Story

The Broadway District sits on the west bank of the Fox River in Green Bay. As a riverfront location, the area has long been a center of commerce, whether for the fur trade, lumber, paper or, today, as a hive for small businesses and entrepreneurs. However, this transition was not without difficulty, as the 1980s saw the district become a high-crime area defined by disrepair and vacancy. In 1995, a group of persistent local merchants, neighbors and community leaders launched a Main Street organization to reclaim the street. Some early triumphs included a new streetscape, a partnership with local police, and creation of a supportive small business and live-work environment. As of 2009, the district had already achieved success, with the renovation of 91 properties and development of four new infill projects. Progress has continued since that time, with the addition of new residential opportunities and further reduction in storefront vacancies. The most notable change is the conversion of a former train depot and later an adjacent vegetable processing facility into the Titletown Brewery, restaurant, tap room and event center. Over its entire tenure, the district has had a net gain of 171 new businesses that employ more than 1,600 individuals, and has attracted just shy of $69 million in private investment to improve 167 buildings. With 45 statewide awards, the district is the ‘winningest’ community in the state, and is well-known for innovative adaptive reuse projects and regionally significant marketing and event initiatives that bring thousands to shop, dine and stroll during annual events such as the Winter Wine Walk and Wednesday and Saturday farmers’ markets. Read More

Read Story
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT GRANTS AWARDED
$
MILLION IN TOTAL AWARDS
$
LEVERAGED FOR EVERY $1 WEDC INVESTED

Source: WEDC FY19 Annual Report on Economic Development

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Information, tools, programs and partners fuel growth and new market opportunities.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Our passion is supporting yours—through funding solutions, workspaces, mentoring and more.

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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Revitalizing commercial districts and preserving our state’s history enriches public spaces and helps encourage business activity.

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INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT

Public-private partnerships investing in “Centers of Excellence” that drive research, startups and business attraction to advance Wisconsin’s competitive advantage.

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INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Experts here and abroad that help Wisconsin companies navigate exporting logistics to successfully expand their global reach.

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“This is one of the best new programs (Certified Sites) that the state has started through WEDC. This is a big step for the step to help the Village of Howard move forward with its economic development strategy.”

PAUL EVERETT • VILLAGE ADMINISTRATOR, VILLAGE OF HOWARD

“Because of the funding from WEDC through the CDI Grant, this grocery store and hardware store will help attract and retain homeowners and businesses, bring jobs, and spur further economic development projects that will revitalize this area.”

KELLY KLEIN • COORDINATOR, IRON COUNTY DEVELOPMENT ZONE

“On behalf of the City of La Crosse, we are very excited and honored by the recognition from WEDC for our local Main Street program,” said Mayor Tim Kabat. “Downtown Mainstreet Inc., its members and our community partners have helped to create a downtown that we are all proud of and we look forward to collaborating with WEDC and the state of Wisconsin to raise historic downtown La Crosse to new heights.”

TIM KABAT • MAYOR, CITY OF LACROSSE