We continue to build the foundation for successful downtown redevelopment, taking the steps necessary to revitalize our city center for the long term.
The latest example: An application that was made today to the state’s Connect Communities program … “where the path to revitalization begins.”
Connect Communities is a statewide network providing a wide range of downtown resources to local communities, including expertise from Wisconsin Main Street. It aims to “help local leaders leverage the unique assets of their downtowns and commercial districts, providing access to resources and networking opportunities to local leaders interested in starting a district revitalization effort.”
From the Connect Communities website …
“Downtowns and historic commercial districts play an important role in their communities and in Wisconsin’s overall economy, functioning not only as prominent employment and business centers, but oftentimes as the historic foundation of the municipalities they serve. Successful commercial districts don’t just happen. They need to be planned and nurtured. Their prosperity requires interest and action from many stakeholders who share a vision for the community.”
Thankfully, we have that.
This is a joint application, between the city and Project ReStore, a subcommittee of the South Milwaukee Community & Business Association, and none of this could happen without the work of these dedicated local business owners and residents. I thank them for their work to date, and for their work to come on this critical issue.
The application follows months of study of with a consultant around ways to bring the No. 1 downtown strategy from the 2016 comprehensive plan to life: “Organize a downtown revitalization structure to build local capacity and credibility to conduct successful work over the long term.”
The key word is “long term,” and, indeed, this is just the start. ReStore is also exploring forming a business improvement district or similar downtown organization to serve as an “owner” for downtown redevelopment. Much more to come on that.
For now, we’re hopeful we’ll be accepted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. into the Connect Communities program, and begin realizing the benefits of membership. The biggest one, to me, is education.
We are not reinventing the wheel here when it comes to downtown redevelopment. What we’re doing in South Milwaukee has been done before in dozens (hundreds?) of communities across the state. We will learn from them through our membership in Connect Communities.
And, with that learning, we’ll revitalize our downtown, together.
Here is the proclamation the city council passed last week in support of the application.
WHEREAS, the City of South Milwaukee and Project Restore, which is a subcommittee of the South Milwaukee Community and Business Association, have mutually agreed to apply for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Connect Communities Program; and
WHEREAS, the Connect Communities Program will assist the City of South Milwaukee and Project Restore in leveraging our assets and providing valuable resources to accelerate our efforts to revitalize the downtown district; and
WHEREAS, the Connect Communities Program will provide networking opportunities, on-site visits from WEDC staff, training for the downtown group, webinar training, and participation in Main Street workshops, to enhance the revitalization and economic development efforts downtown; and
WHEREAS, given the present condition of downtown South Milwaukee and recent revitalization efforts, this program will provide the City of South Milwaukee with much needed assistance. It is in the best interest of the City to continue building momentum and expanding on the progress of the downtown district;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the City of South Milwaukee hereby authorizes the submission of the Connect Communities Application, hereby supporting the membership to the WEDC Connect Communities Program;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the City of South Milwaukee and Project Restore partner in the Connect Communities Program and further revitalization efforts for downtown South Milwaukee.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of South Milwaukee clerk transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the Project Restore subcommittee.