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WEDC Secretary Hughes tours Imaginarium

August 10, 2023
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A $250,000 WEDC grant is helping Wausau develop children’s museum

WAUSAU, WI. AUG. 10, 2023 – Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes got a sneak peek at work underway on the Children’s Imaginarium during a Thursday visit to Wausau.

“Children’s museums and playspaces are a necessary part of a community’s economic well-being,” Hughes said. “Places like the Children’s Imaginarium draw families, visitors and others to nearby businesses and help those businesses attract the workers needed to grow. Not to mention that these playspaces are wonderful early learning experiences and just fun for all ages.”

Last year, WEDC awarded the city of Wausau a $250,000 Community Development Investment (CDI) grant to transform part of what was the Wausau Center Mall into the Children’s Imaginarium, a STEM-focused children’s museum.

The more than 13,000-square-foot museum is set to open in October and features interactive exhibits on agriculture, wind, construction, and more. According to the city of Wausau, the museum is designed to provide educational experiences to students in all 16 Marathon County school districts and more than half of those students are economically disadvantaged.

“We are absolutely thrilled to see the vision of the Children’s Imaginarium finally come to fruition,” Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg said. “Thanks to the nearly decade-long advocacy, fundraising, and hard work of Maggie Gordon, Tammy Szekeress and their board, our community has its new downtown anchor nearly complete. We are so grateful to the partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, our community, and City of Wausau staff and council members that made this project possible.”

The Children’s Imaginarium at 300 Forest St., Wausau, is just the first step in redeveloping the former mall site. Plans call for the creation of a mixed-use destination with a public market, retail stores, and a signature pedestrian bridge connecting downtown to the Wisconsin River.

From the CDI program’s inception in 2013 through March 2023, WEDC has awarded nearly $45.2 million in CDI Grants for 215 projects expected to generate nearly $879 million in capital investments statewide.

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