Program will support communities’ revitalization efforts in downtown and urban commercial districts

MADISON, WI. Jan. 26, 2017 – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has accepted five new municipalities into its Connect Communities Program, an initiative that works with communities to advance downtown and urban corridor revitalization efforts.

With the latest additions, there are now 66 participants in the Connect Communities Program, which provides access to resources and training to help downtown organizations pursue revitalization and redevelopment efforts. Since the program was launched in January 2013, participating communities have reported adding 223 net new businesses and more than 1,151 net new jobs, as well as $60.6 million in private investment.

The new Connect Communities participants are:

  • City of Burlington
  • City of Manawa
  • Milwaukee Marketplace BID #32
  • City of New Richmond
  • City of Stevens Point-Northside Business District

“Economic development is about leveraging our assets. Many of our downtowns have the ability to be a catalyst for local job growth,” said Barb LaMue, vice president of business and community development for WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “Communities selected for this program will receive critical support from WEDC’s downtown team and valuable input from other members.”

The program is designed to support and complement the Wisconsin Main Street Program, which has supported projects statewide resulting in the creation of more than 2,559 net new businesses and 13,498 net new jobs since its inception in 1987.

Prior to being accepted to the Connect Communities Program, applicants had to describe the type of activities they hope to undertake and what assistance they hope to receive as part of the program, and identify a local team that will be responsible for carrying out activities and participating in program events and training.

Connect Communities participants benefit from a variety of assistance and resources simply by being part of a broad-based network of communities with similar objectives, but specific program services include:

  • Access to an online discussion group to share challenges and successful strategies with staff and other participating Connect Communities
  • Participation in Main Street workshops focused on a downtown revitalization topic
  • An on-site visit from a member of WEDC’s community development staff to assist in identifying needs
  • Training for each community’s downtown director or board president
  • Roundtable discussion groups on pertinent topics
  • Access to WEDC’s downtown development library
  • Access to resources and training materials 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
  • Quarterly webinars/regional training