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.
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:
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.
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.