Community Update – State Recognition/Assistance for City’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative

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Wisconsin Rapids Welcomed into State’s Downtown Revitalization Program

wedcBack in January of 2014, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) took note of the important role that downtowns and historic commercial districts play in their communities, and in Wisconsin’s overall economy. They also understood the significance the “Main Street” program has played in Wisconsin communities since its inception in 1987. But in our case and others, taking on the full fledged responsibilities of the Main Street program is a feat. As a result, WEDC developed the Connect Communities Program as way to provide local civic leaders with access to resources and networking opportunities to start and maintain a district revitalization effort. A pathway, of sorts, to becoming primed for participation in the Main Street program. Since the program launched, participating communities have reported adding 175 net new businesses and more than 500 jobs, as well as $30 million in private investment.

I am pleased to report that WEDC today officially recognized the City of Wisconsin Rapids as just one of 18 communities around the state to be accepted into the Connect Communities Program this year. Applicants for this recognition were tasked with explaining the type of activities or assistance that they hope to undertake, as well as identify a local team that will be responsible for carrying out activities and participating in program events and training.

Among items presented to WEDC, Wisconsin Rapids shared details of the initiative under way LBTRto develop preliminary designs for enhancements to public spaces along the urban section of Riverbank. Residents were able to view early design concepts and alternatives at Lunch by the River on July 2.

The Connect Communities initiative goes beyond mere lip service. It provides Wisconsin Rapids with access to a variety of resources and training, including:

  • A Network to get new ideas from staff and other participating Connect Communities;
  • On-site visits from WEDC Community Development staff to assist in identifying needs and offering assistance;
  • Training opportunities for leadership and staff; and
  • Access to WEDC’s downtown development online library, and to specially developed resources and training materials.

We are proud that Wisconsin Rapids has been selected by the Connect Communities Program. This designation validates the vision shaped by years of local support – from the planning of civic leaders from years past down to our present day, to the interest and suggestions of everyday community residents. With continued engagement from our citizens, our involvement with Connect Communities will help us to leverage the unique assets of our Downtown Riverbank district.

Reinventing Our Future – The Time Is Now

Our City’s selection for inclusion in the State’s Connect Communities Program reaffirms points I made in an op-ed Column published last Saturday in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, regarding the importance of reinvigorating our City’s Riverbank area. (The Column will also appear in this weekend’s edition of the Wisconsin Rapids City Times).

In this article, I detailed the ways in which Wisconsin Rapids has begun a public effort to river2recognize and identify the potential return on public investments in one of our most precious resources – the Wisconsin River.  These initiatives included developing preliminary designs for enhancements to our public spaces along the urban section of Riverbank; and developing specifications and attaching cost estimates to some of the already identified. planned and resident-inspired improvements.  In a few short weeks, we will again engage with our consultant as they further define the preliminary designs of the public waterfront.

As mentioned in my 2015 State of the City Address this past February, the time is now for the city to reinvent the place we live, work, dine and entertain … and to reimagine and transform our local economy into one that is more diverse, and continuously attracts investment and talented, entrepreneurial people.

To read the full text of my op-ed piece, please follow this link

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update – Put Your Business on the Map!

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Put Your Business on the Map … with Google

PYBOMIt is estimated that businesses that are online are expected to grow 40 percent faster than businesses that are not online.  That is why, early in 2014, the City of Wisconsin Rapids began working with Google on “Get Your Business Online.”  This initiative was designed to make it fast, easy and free for local businesses to spread the word about their businesses, by getting listed on an online search engine.

Now, I am pleased to announce that we are again collaborating with Google to help local business owners, through “Put Your Business on the Map.”

“Put Your Business on the Map” is designed to help local businesses increase their presence online with a variety of resources, including online listings and website creation services – all, available at no cost.

To get started, you just need to create an online listing and verify your business with Google by visiting gybo.com.  Or, you can call City Hall.

Being online helps increases your visibility, which helps to ensure business growth and competitiveness.  We believe all of our local businesses here in Wisconsin Rapids should be found online.  “Get Your Business on the Map” is designed to help strengthen our community, by connecting local businesses and customers so they can easily support each other.

Join us, as we work to get every Wisconsin Rapids business online and seen by the world.  Let us help you “Put Your Business on the Map”! 

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update – Riverbank Preliminary Designs

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Riverbank Project Preview at Lunch by the River

Last Thursday, attendees to Lunch by the River had the great and fun opportunity to view several preliminary designs for our riverbank open spaces, as presented by Supermass Studio, the City’s riverfront design consultant.
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The displays included the overall programming and planning framework of the riverbank park Supermassareas between Wisconsin Rapids dam and Riverview Expressway; as well as more detailed conceptual designs of Legion Park, Mead Rapids View Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and the west riverbank south of the Grand Avenue bridge area. Supermass representatives were on hand to offer project updates take your feedback and answer your questions. My favorite, the ‘Performance Knoll’ at Legion park where larger concerts could be held throughout the summer. It is also neat to see an alternative to that concept, a take on the city’s first swimming pool! The hammock grove was unique and could be a fun addition to our riverfront space!

You can view all the design boards here.  We are also welcoming your feedback! Comment below, on Facebook or by contacting myself or Planning & Economic Development Director Adam Tegen.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update – Riverbank Project Preview at Lunch by the River, City of Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July Display

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Riverbank Project Preview at Lunch by the River

I’m pleased to share an update and another opportunity to engage in our Riverbank Design Project! Earlier this month, we kicked off the idea-sharing and information gathering process, with a Nightseeing event– which saw us exploring and discovering the downtown and Wisconsin River, to set the stage for future nighttime design.  As we mark the second month since the inception of the work and initial site visit from our East Riverbank design consultant Supermass Studio, another site visit is underway. Since the time, marked progress has been made in bringing renewed life to Wisconsin Rapids’ waterfront public spaces!

veterans-memorial-parkNow, to show the progress made, I am excited to invite our residents to experience a preview of our City’s waterfront future, at this Thursday’s Lunch by the River, July 2, where Supermass Studio, our riverfront design consultant, will share early concepts.

The concepts will include the overall programming and planning framework of the riverbank public space between the Wisconsin Rapids dam and Riverview Expressway/Demitz Park; as well as more detailed concept designs of Legion Park, Mead Rapids View Park, Veterans Memorial Park, the east & west riverbank south of Grand Avenue bridge.

All are invited to ask questions and to offer your thoughts and suggestions.

Please join us at Veterans Memorial Park this Tomorrow, during 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. to preview first hand the work by our consultant, and of course, for Lunch by the River!

Wisconsin Rapids Fireworks Display

 This Saturday, July 4, marks the return of the popular City of Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July Independece Day Fireworks Display – widely recognized as one of the most unique, colorful and explosive shows in the entire State. The show begins at approximately 9:30 p.m., along the shores of the beautiful Wisconsin River, in Downtown Rapids.

This year’s Fourth of July Fireworks Display will be choreographed to music on local radio station WLJY 105.5; and members of the Teen Fireworks Committee, who diligently work to raise all the money to put on this event, have the richly deserved honor of launching the show with the ceremonial lighting of the first shot.

The show may be viewed along most of the riverbank, except for the launch zone on the western bank of the river, from the foot of the Grand Avenue Bridge to south of the Moravian Church.IMG_7266 Combined with other activities that bring our City to life during the July Fourth holiday period, the Fireworks Display brings our community together and helps pull in many out-of-town visitors each year – so it’s important to plan ahead.

For more information on logistics and safety reminders, visit:  https://local.nixle.com/alert/5440498/?sub_id=535825.

Have a safe and enjoyable Independece Day celebration!

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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