Fond du Lac’s Amy Hansen among first class of Main Street America™ Revitalization Professionals

07/10/17

Even after 10 years as executive director of Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, Amy Hansen still found herself wondering if there was something else she could do to increase the breadth and depth of her downtown revitalization knowledge. As she tells it, the workshops and webinars offered through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Wisconsin Main Street Program do a good job of offering skills developed in a targeted area once a quarter, but Amy thought she lacked the “whole picture” knowledge of the many facets of historic commercial district revitalization.

Downtown: hotbed of entrepreneurship

06/06/17

Downtown provides a cost-effective and scalable location for businesses to start and grow. Not only were downtowns the first live/work communities (a cost- and time-saving advantage that many entrepreneurs still take advantage of), but historic buildings also offer passive income potential in the form of rental of upper floor spaces, as well as future expansion opportunities.

By proclamation, Governor Scott Walker declared August 22, 2017 Wisconsin Main Street Day. The day included the announcement of the newest Wisconsin Main Street Program participant, Milwaukee’s Historic King Drive, as well as celebrations and ribbon-cuttings in 11 other communities: Ashland, De Pere, Fond du Lac, La Crosse, Port Washington, Princeton, Ripon, Shullsburg, Tomah, Viroqua and Wausau.

Promotion positions the downtown or commercial district as the center of the community and hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases a community’s unique characteristics.  -Main Street America™

During New Director Training, I spend a considerable amount of time helping new directors consider their district brand. In this article, I’ll walk you through some of the considerations we go over during the training, to serve as a refresher (or for those who may have gone through this training some time ago).

Wisconsin Main Street directors and volunteers, as well as Connect Communities representatives and even a few Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) regional economic development directors, gathered in Madison on July 31 and Aug. 1 for a training for new Wisconsin Main Street directors. While this day-and-a-half-long training is required for any new directors of designated Wisconsin Main Street programs, it is also open (on an optional basis) to volunteers and local Connect Communities participants. The first day is filled with an in-depth exploration of the Main Street Approach, sharing the history and breaking the Four Points™ (design, economic vitality, organization and promotion) into easy to understand concepts peppered with examples from the downtown development team’s years of experience.

Too often, community enhancement conversations start with a conversation about elements that are perceived to be missing. For example, discussions might center on how to fund a new pool, splash pad, bike rack or parking lots—but seldom do these conversations include an assessment of the utility of existing infrastructure: How are the existing streetscape and built infrastructure performing? What is the potential for past investments to evolve and reflect current needs? Can we get more use out of these items before we add something new? It is all too easy to overlook the existing infrastructure, but as the examples below prove, examining it with fresh eyes can result in unexpected and impactful projects.