With all attention focused on the construction of the Bentzin Family Town Square, the Watertown Redevelopment Authority’s (RDA) Revolving Loan Program quietly passed a $1M milestone.
Established in December 2017, the Program is designed to stimulate rehabilitation and redevelopment of commercial real estate within Watertown’s downtown commercial corridor. To date, the revolving loan fund has provided $951,390 in low-interest financing and $95,186 in grants to downtown property and business owners to upgrade their facilities. In total, the RDA has invested $1,064,487 into 16 projects in less than five years.
“Evidence of the RDA’s investment can be seen up and down Main Street and along a number of side streets,” said Alex Allon, RDA Executive Director.
Universally, recipients of the Program’s financing echo the sentiment expressed by Bob Mudler, who financed his project at 300 E. Madison Street. The downstairs of this building was vacant for 12-15 years before Mudler bought and renovated it. Currently it’s home to the Dean Badorek State Farm Insurance Agency. Mudler said, “If it wasn’t for the RDA’s revolving loan program, we would not have been able to do this project. Knowing we had the revolving loan program to help us, increased our confidence to buy and rehabilitate this building.”
The Program received seed funding from a portion of the City’s surplus Tax Increment Finance dollars. The majority of funding, however, comes from the partnership of three community-oriented banks: Bank First, Ixonia Bank, and Bank of Lake Mills. “Currently, the Program is nearly maxed out,” added Allon. “We have one request in for funding which will use up the remainder of what’s available. The advantage of a revolving loan program is that it’s a self-replenishing pool of funds - loans are made, then payments on current loans flow back into the fund to be lent out once again.”
The RDA’s mission is to encourage reinvestment in under-utilized areas of the City through rehabilitation or redevelopment with the goals of facilitating job creation, increasing the tax base and, ultimately, improving quality of life for the Watertown community. “On behalf of the RDA and its board members, I am proud of our achievement of investing over $1M into Watertown’s future,” Allon concluded.