WEDC awards a total of $583,300 to Blanchardville, Platteville, Fennimore

MADISON, WI. April 25, 2018 – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) today awarded grants totaling $583,300 to communities in southwestern Wisconsin for projects that will strengthen the downtowns in each municipality.

WEDC awarded two Community Development Investment Grants of $250,000 each to the City of Platteville and the City of Fennimore, and an $83,300 Site Assessment Grant to the Village of Blanchardville.

The grant announcements were made Wednesday by Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and chief operating officer of WEDC, who was joined in each community by state Sen. Howard Marklein, whose district encompasses all three municipalities.

“A vibrant downtown is a key part of a community’s overall economic health, and that’s even more true in small, rural communities,” Braun said. “Each of these grants will play a vital role in helping to improve the community’s business district, which will ultimately create more jobs and increase the number of visitors to the region.”

“Investing in rural Wisconsin is key to our continued growth and prosperity,” Marklein said. “These grants, combined with our continued investments in K-12 education, rural broadband expansion and rural roads, will support the creativity and collaboration among local leaders who are working very hard to make a difference. We have tremendous people in our communities who are committed to rural Wisconsin and I am proud to support their efforts.”

Here are the details on the grants announced Wednesday:

City of Platteville (Grant County)

The city received a $250,000 Community Development lnvestment Grant to assist in the construction of a new mixed-income apartment building called Pioneer Square. The building will be constructed on a 1.2-acre site that has been vacant since 2012. It used to house a Ford dealership, a grocery store and a small commercial building.

Construction is expected to start mid-year and the project should be completed in June 2019. Once completed, the project is expected to have an annual economic impact of $355,000 and create about 30 direct and indirect jobs.

In addition to the support from WEDC, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) last year awarded Pioneer Square $1,001,220 in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Over the 10-year life of the tax credits, they will generate more than $10 million to help finance the project.

City of Fennimore (Grant County)

Fennimore was awarded a $250,000 Community Development lnvestment Grant to assist in the construction of a new grocery store downtown. The new 22,000-square-foot Bender Foods store will replace the company’s smaller store, which is about 9,000 square feet and located across the street.

The new store will feature enhanced and expanded perishable departments, a greater selection of products, a bakery and a deli. The new store is expected to employ 28 people – 10 from the existing store and 18 new employees.

Construction on the store, a $5.8 million project, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Village of Blanchardville (Iowa and Lafayette County)

Blanchardville received an $83,300 Site Assessment Grant to help fund an environmental site investigation and facilitate the demolition of a blighted structure downtown. The building is more than a century old and has housed a cheese factory under multiple owners. Some of the buildings on the site also once housed a local newspaper and a printing business.

Village officials plan to raze the building and start a redevelopment project on the 0.3-acre site with commercial or industrial development. Before work can begin, the village needs to conduct an environmental investigation of the site to determine what remediation needs to occur prior to development.

The environmental site work is expected to be complete by June 2019 and village officials say the redevelopment could take place soon after that, as several companies have expressed an interest in the site.

About the grant programs

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic 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 $17 million in grants for projects expected to generate more than $233 million in capital investments statewide.

The Site Assessment Grant Program provides funds to assist local governments with conducting initial environmental assessment and demolition activities on eligible abandoned, idle or underutilized industrial or commercial sites. Since 2012, WEDC has awarded 69 grants totaling more than $6 million throughout the state.