Issue II

The theme of the 2015 National Main Streets Conference is "TEAM Main Street". Although the concept of grassroots community-based support for downtown projects is nothing new to Main Streeters, raising funds for brick-and-mortar projects locally has been less common. Although it is easier than ever to launch these projects through any number of online sites, these projects have been around for a long time. (The Statue of Liberty? Crowdfunded.) Projects of all sizes, ranging from bike racks and lamp posts to hotels and breweries, can be successful contenders for crowdfunding. The following projects highlight successful examples of communities that have identified a need and rallied support locally to make it happen.

  • Scratchtown Brewing Company - A rural community of 2,100 raised more than $250,000 locally to support the development of a new downtown brewery. Rather than equity, founding investors received perks such as 'brewer for a day', 'free drink Fridays', etc.
  • Ironworks Hotel - Before it was the Ironworks, the Beloit Inn was a crowdfunded hotel development. Selling rooms in the planned development to local companies and individual investors, the community raised $6 million to build the 54-room downtown hotel, meeting the needs of local employers and Beloit College for quality lodging.
  • Lostine Tavern - A rural community of 204 residents raised more than $30,000 to purchase and reopen a beloved historic restaurant after a fire. More than 150 locals and outsiders donated to the effort, with every $100 donor having his/her initials branded into the bar. Other pledges resulted in free meals for hungry travelers, personal pint glasses and other perks.
  • Ironwood Art Park - The Upper Peninsula town raised nearly $16,000  (150 percent of its goal) toward creation of a downtown art park which will feature performance and educational space and display locally created murals and sculptures and interactive art elements.

Interested in learning more? Sign up for our upcoming crowdfunding webinar using the link to the right to participate in a discussion with developers and businesses that are capitalizing on local support to fund exciting projects around the state. Do you have a successful example of a crowdfunded project in your community, or are you looking to launch one? Email us and let us know!

Featured Tip

Have you engaged your district residents today? The average downtown resident in a Wisconsin Main Street community spends $9,000 per year on goods and services purchased locally. Based on the average earnings for a locally-owned specialty shop in the state, each additional 43 residents create enough consumer demand to support an additional business in the district. 
This message was sent by: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation 201 W. Washington Avenue Madison, WI 53703
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