Funding earmarked for $3 million International Performing Arts Campus

ONALASKA, WI. March 5, 2018 – The City of Onalaska has received a $240,000 state grant to support construction of a new performing arts facility – a project expected to draw more visitors downtown and provide a boost to local businesses.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will help fund the International Performing Arts Campus on 12th Avenue S.

The 21,190-square-foot facility, which is now under construction, will house three dance-related businesses and a café, and will have 3,500 square feet of space for a complementary use and/or future growth. It is campus expected to open in May.

Mary Gage, WEDC’s senior director of economic development, joined city officials, and local business and economic development leaders in announcing the grant in Onalaska on Monday.

The facility will be the new home of Misty’s Dance Unlimited, a dance studio that was established in 1998 and has more than 700 students of all ages; More than Just Great Dancing, a business that provides on-site and virtual training services to danced studio owners and instructors, nearly 200 studios nationwide; and Everything Dance, a dance apparel store.

“The concept for this training center has been six years in the making,” said Misty Lown, who owns the three businesses. “From the day we took our business model and curriculum international, we knew we wanted to bring the benefit economic activity associated with our training programs home to Onalaska. ”

The project is located in a key commercial corridor near downtown. Given the expected number of visitors to the campus each week for classes and the large influx of visitors who will be in the city several times a year for dance training events, the campus is expected to have a significant economic impact on the city and downtown. Once completed, the campus is expected to add more than $2 million to the city’s tax base and increase the number of visitors to the city.

This facility also will serve as a community gathering space centered around arts. The campus also is expected to be made be made available to community events.

“The new campus will provide additional cultural opportunities for residents in Onalaska and the region while also enhancing the city’s business district,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “This project is an example of the many ways in which WEDC works with communities throughout Wisconsin to enhance their business districts. Our community development programs are crucial because a vibrant downtown is a major factor in a community’s overall economic vitality.”

“This project is not just a win for Onalaska, but for the region as a whole, “said Mayor Joe Chilsen. “We appreciate the investment and the impact this facility will have on our community for years to come.”

“This incredible new facility will be a great example of the arts and cultural amenities that La Crosse County is known for,” said La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson, who attended Monday’s event. “The county would like to thank Misty for her continued investment in our community and the City of Onalaska, and State of Wisconsin for helping to bring this project to fruition.”

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 more than $16 million in Community Development Investment Grants for projects expected to generate more than $186 million in capital investments statewide.

The grant also reflects WEDC’s ongoing support of economic development efforts in La Crosse County and western Wisconsin. Since 2011, WEDC has made nearly $68 million in business and community investments in La Crosse County. That includes $33 million to companies for projects expected to retain or create more than 3,200 jobs in the county and generate more than $466 million in capital investment.