WEDC awards grant to Prairie du Chien to support downtown redevelopment project

Funds will help city and Crawford County open new adult day care center

MADISON, WI. June 14, 2017 – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded a $33,750 grant to the city of Prairie du Chien to support a downtown redevelopment project.

The Community Development Investment Grant is being awarded to the city to redevelop a former clothing store into Café Hope and Unity Adult Daycare, a project that will be overseen by the Crawford County Opportunity Center.

The café and adult day-care facility will be located in the former Kozelka Clothing building on North Beaumont Road, which the Opportunity Center purchased in 2016.

The center will provide services to adults who need enriched social or health-supportive experiences or who may need assistance with daily living activities. The center already has the capacity to serve about 40 people in the building, but the redevelopment could increase that to 100. Unity will initially open with four full-time employees, but that could increase to 16 if the facility reaches capacity.

Café Hope would be an extension of the existing Share Spaces Kitchen, which provides work opportunities to clients with disabilities. The 3,500-square-foot café is expected to employ two full-time and six part-time workers.

“As an organization, the Opportunity Center must be creative, innovative and determined in finding ways to engage our clients in the community, to provide challenging employment opportunities, and to diversify our sources of income,” said Pam Ritchie, CEO of the Opportunity Center. “This project does all those things while making an important investment in the historic downtown.”

The Opportunity Center, which provides services to adults with disabilities, has a need for new and expanded services. “We saw an unfilled need in the community and, through this project, we are working to meet it,” Ritchie said.

The city’s involvement in the project is the result of years of partnering with the Opportunity Center, said Prairie du Chien Mayor Dave Hemmer.

“The Opportunity Center reflects our small-town values – hard work, creativity and caring about your neighbor,” Hemmer said. “Investing in the downtown, creating jobs, caring for and engaging our seniors, and enhancing the community’s quality of life – this is the kind of project the city wants and needs to be involved in.”

WEDC’s grant provides critical funding to make the entire building accessible, which will double the amount of space for the project.

“This project not only addresses the growing demand for services for an aging population, but also will create jobs and have a positive impact on downtown Prairie du Chien,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “It is also a great example of how the state, city, county and private sector can work together to make a real difference in the community.”

“I fully support the growth of small businesses in our communities and always enjoy seeing innovative entrepreneurs turn their dreams and business plans into reality,” added state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, who represents Prairie du Chien. “By investing in our local businesses and supporting small business development, we can expand economic opportunities and strengthen communities here in western Wisconsin.”

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. Awards are based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need, and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, WEDC has awarded $12.5 million in Community Development Investment Grants for projects expected to generate more than $263 million in capital investments statewide.

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About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Visit www.inwisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.

About the Crawford County Opportunity Center
The center, established in 1965, provides employment, training, placement and other rehabilitation services to adults with disabilities. The center’s mission is to add value to individuals’ lives and fully integrating those individuals into the community resulting in a more diverse, rich, and vibrant place to live and work. To learn more about the Opportunity Center and its programs and initiatives, visit pdcopportunitycenter.org.