In Wisconsin

Connect Communities

Connect Communities

Where the path to revitalization begins

Downtowns and historic commercial districts play an important role in their communities and in Wisconsin’s overall economy, functioning not only as prominent employment and business centers, but as the historic foundation and identity of the municipalities they serve. Successful commercial districts don’t just happen. They need to be planned and nurtured. Their prosperity requires interest and action from many stakeholders who share a vision for the community.

Connect Communities helps local leaders identify and leverage the unique assets of their downtowns and commercial districts, providing access to resources and networking opportunities to stakeholders interested in starting a district revitalization effort.

How it works

Connect Communities program participants will have immediate access to experienced staff within the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and to peers within the Connect Communities network. Program services include:

Connect Communities 2016 Map

  • A ListServ/network group to get new ideas from staff and other participating Connect Communities
  • Participation in Main Street workshops with a focus on downtown revitalization topics
  • On-site visits from one of WEDC’s community development staff to assist in identifying and prioritizing needs and relevant resources
  • Training for organization staff and board members
  • Roundtable discussion groups on pertinent topics held regionally twice per year
  • Access to resources and training materials that have been developed for Wisconsin Main Street communities
  • Invitation to the annual Main Street Awards Program, plus eligibility to nominate a project for a Connect Communities award
  • Regular webinars and other topical trainings and networking

Program requirements

A participating community must have an organization or group that focuses on downtown/historic commercial district issues, commit to attending a minimum of two annual training opportunities, and fulfill annual reporting requirements. Communities will be required to sign a participation agreement with WEDC and pay an annual fee of $200.

Application and selection process

Up to 20 additional communities are selected to participate in the Connect Communities program each year. Applicants are scored based on the following criteria: strength of committee/organization, need for assistance, clearly defined downtown/urban commercial district, local resources available and potential.

For more information about the Connect Communities Program, contact a WEDC regional economic development director.