Program may provide help in revitalizing downtown Menomonie - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Program may provide help in revitalizing downtown Menomonie

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Menomonie (WQOW) - Wisconsin is making a connection that could boost downtown development.

Menomonie was recently chosen as one of 20 cities throughout the state to participate in something called Connect Communities.

"We have a good organization so far, we've been here since 1990 so we're very established. I think our town fits what they're looking for," said Joanie Dulin, Executive director of Main Street Menomonie.

Main Street Menomonie Inc. is constantly looking for ways to help bring people downtown.  Now, as the city has been chosen to be part of Connect Communities, it hopes that goal becomes easier.

"If a business wants to for instance expand, it might give us tools that will help us to be able to assist them in expanding. Or, new businesses to town, it would be able to help us to know what they may need when they first come into town and how we can help start off successfully," said Dulin.

Connect Communities is a new state program to give downtown areas a boost. Here's one example of what the program does. A state economic development expert may visit Menomonie to help identify what the downtown needs.

"We have six vacant storefronts in downtown Menomonie. So a program like this might help us to know what type of businesses we might like to recruit to move into those storefronts. What might be the best way to fill those store fronts and help them to start successfully," Dulin said.

"As a business owner I definitely think it's a good idea. As a taxpayer, I think it's a good idea too. It's a good idea to reinvest in downtown after all the sprawl that has gone on with urban development," said Rory Feddersen, who owns Simple Sports.

It costs Main Street Menomonie $200 per year to be a part of the program. Feddersen says he sees the long term benefits.

"One thing that would be good is more advertising and marketing for the downtown. A lot of people still don't know about a lot of businesses that are in the downtown area. I still have people coming into my shop saying 'How long have you been around?" and I've been here for 12 years," said Feddersen.

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