COMMUNITY UPDATE – Wisconsin Rapids awarded State Economic Development grant for Tribune Building project

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Wisconsin Rapids awarded State economic development grant for Tribune ‘Community Accelerator’ project

IMG_1965 copyEarlier this morning, Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and representatives of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) joined myself, other local officials and project representatives in downtown Wisconsin Rapids to announce the awarding of a $472,000 grant to help fund the renovation of the Tribune Community Accelerator site. See the release here.

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From left to right: Jason Scott, WEDC; Naletta Burr, WEDC; Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch; Kelly Ryan, Incourage; and Mayor Zach Vruwink, City of Wisconsin Rapids. Photo by Incourage Community Foundation

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant program bases its awards 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. Lt. Gov. Kleefisch highlighted these criteria when she pointed out, “This building, which now represents history, now will represent the future.” In many ways, the proximity of the Tribune building and the community’s involvement in the project is a testament to that.

Since Incourage Community Foundation purchased the 19,868-square-foot Tribune Building, more than 800 residents have invested more than 5,500 hours in public meetings to determine the facility’s future use. A first-of-its-kind, the Community Accelerator plans include an art studio and classroom; brewpub and café with rooftop lounge; creative workshop/makerspace; culinary kitchen, youth spaces, meeting room, microbrewery, recreational rental shop, retail store for local goods and other public spaces. An adjacent underutilized parking lot and greenspace will offer additional civic space with connectivity to the Tribune building and other surrounding properties.

What economic benefits will come as a result? On the surface, this redevelopment project is expected to create 14 new full-time positions and 23 new part-time positions, while supporting more than 200 temporary construction jobs and more than doubling the value of the property.

IMG_2006As Kelly Ryan, Incourage president and CEO, noted, this grant further demonstrates how public-private and philanthropic partnerships can help shape a strong and inclusive local economy, and serve as a catalyst for new opportunities in community cohesiveness, commerce, entrepreneurship, and sustainable design. Read Kelly’s Blog Post here.

As Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids, I am grateful to the State of Wisconsin for investing in Wisconsin Rapids through the development grant. I also express heartfelt thanks to Incourage Community Foundation and its leadership for their ongoing commitment to our City’s economic development.

Wisconsin Rapids’ unique riverfront and surrounding spaces possess great potential in growing our local economy and stimulating investment. This enormous potential is illustrated by the fact that, as we stood at the entrance of what will be the new Tribune, we were mere steps away from our most important asset and resource – the Wisconsin River. Education, recreation and interaction will permeate the building’s connection with the river.

IMG_2028 copyJason Scott, WEDC’s Community Development Manager, summed it up nicely by saying that community development is economic development; that continued investment in our Downtown area represents our very future. In concert with City and private investments in our downtown area, and progress on triangle redevelopment near the Courthouse and the Riverfront design process, this WEDC grant further enables our community and its residents to continue laying a solid foundation for a new, dynamic and diverse economic renaissance that will benefit generations to come.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Who is Incourage Community Foundation? Who is WEDC?

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