Missy Hughes, CEO and Secretary, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) works with economic developers throughout the State. Here she is speaking at a recent WEDA conference on Economic Development Best Practices. Hughes played a key role in approving the RDA’s recent $247,500 grant earmarked for the building of the Town Square.
The City of Watertown is receiving a $247,500 Community Development Investment (CDI) Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) for Town Square construction.
Lauded as a catalyst for the revitalization of Watertown’s city center, the Town Square is spurring millions of dollars of development investment even before construction begins. T. Wall Enterprises, a prominent multi-family developer in Wisconsin, saw the activity center as a regional draw and will be starting construction of a 90-unit, mixed use project directly adjacent to the Square.
“WEDC is committed to ensuring communities throughout Wisconsin grow and thrive,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “This project will spark new growth in Watertown’s downtown by providing valuable open space and a flexible event venue that will attract investment for years to come.”
The project is located at the heart of downtown Watertown, nestled along the Rock River. At the corner of Water Street and Main Street, the Town Square sits across from the recently reconstructed Watertown Public Library. “The public investments we’re making have generated a commitment to invest nearly $20 million in private funds for the adjacent development, which will result in over $10 million in future taxable value to the City of Watertown’s tax base,” said Alex Allon, Executive Director of the Watertown Redevelopment Authority (RDA).
To take full advantage of the beauty of the Rock River running through downtown, the RDA has ensured that both projects will include a riverwalk that will connect to the existing trail to the south and complete the loop on both sides of the river, crossing the Milwaukee Street bridge. This positions the community for future development, retail, programming and activities along the river.
“Revitalizing downtown Watertown is going to benefit the entire region,” said Senator John Jagler (R-Watertown). “Driving economic development, creating jobs and giving opportunities to small business will have a massive impact across the area.”
WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program is geared toward facilitating downtown redevelopment and helps communities achieve projects they would be unable to undertake otherwise. Matching grants are awarded to recipients that can show the economic impact of the project, promote public-private partnerships and incorporate sustainable downtown development strategies. Since its launch in 2013, WEDC has provided more than $26 million in CDI Grants to over 87 communities. Projects utilizing CDI funds are expected to generate more than $446 million in capital investments statewide.
“Downtowns in communities like ours serve as a hub for catalytic improvements. This project is a perfect example of that,” said Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland. “I’m grateful that WEDC has programs like this that support economic development at the local level.”