Redeveloped idle industrial and commercial sites can again become generators of economic activity and contribute to the quality of life in the cities and communities where they are located. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Idle Sites Redevelopment Program helps tap into the economic development potential of these properties.

Q: What is Idle Sites Redevelopment Program?

The Idle Sites Redevelopment Program, created in 2013, stimulates investment and job creation in idle, abandoned and underutilized industrial or commercial sites that cannot be solely redeveloped by the private sector due to their scale and complexity.

Q: How does the program work?

The program offers grants to Wisconsin communities for implementation of redevelopment plans for large commercial or industrial sites that have been idle, abandoned or underutilized for a period of at least five years.

Q: Who is eligible for the Idle Sites Redevelopment Program? What are the requirements?

Grants may be made to cities, villages, towns, tribal entities, redevelopment authorities, community development authorities or other government entities for idle industrial sites exceeding five acres in size, or commercial properties exceeding 10 acres in size, where redevelopment is impeded due to existing site conditions.

Preference will be given to sites that are located in high-density urban areas or in central business districts. An approved redevelopment plan demonstrating strong potential for significant, measurable economic benefits, such as increased generation of property taxes and the creation of full-time permanent jobs, will increase the competitiveness of a proposed project. This program is administered through an annual competitive process.

Q: How much funding is available?

Grants of up to $500,000 are available. Eligible sites include industrial properties of five acres or more or commercial properties of 10 acres or more. Award funds are limited to 30 percent of project costs, including demolition, environmental remediation, or site-specific improvements defined in the redevelopment plan to advance the site to shovel-ready status or enhance the site’s market attractiveness.

Q: What type of impact does the program have?

The Idle Sites Redevelopment Program is having a tremendous impact across the state. To date, it has awarded more than $12.8 million in grants to 19 projects throughout Wisconsin that are projected to draw an additional $482 million in private investment. These redevelopment projects are expected to generate $417 million in added property value and support more than 4,700 direct jobs, as well as up to 13,000 construction and supporting jobs.

“The Idle Sites Redevelopment Program is an extremely effective vehicle for cultivating vibrant communities for those who live and work in them,” said Barb LaMue, vice president of business and community development for WEDC. “This program is structured to advance the marketability of industrial sites that have been vacant, with preference given to sites located in high-density urban areas or in central business districts.”

Q: What is the application and awards process?

Applicants for an Idle Sites Redevelopment Grant should complete an application through a regional economic development director. The application will be assigned to an internal committee for review and recommendations. An underwriter will be assigned to review each award recommendation and go through the award review process. For more information on application review, internal process and award distribution, please refer to WEDC’s award administration policies and procedures.

Q: When was the last grant competition?

The program held a single grant competition in FY17, which required municipalities seeking grant funding to submit applications by Nov. 1, 2016. WEDC recently announced that $2 million in grant funds will be distributed to four communities to help redevelop abandoned industrial sites throughout Wisconsin.

The four sites selected for this year’s awards are:

  • City of La Crosse, $500,000
  • Eau Claire County, $500,000
  • City of Manitowoc, $500,000
  • Village of Waunakee, $500,000