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News & Press: WEDC Corner

WEDC Corner: July 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016   (0 Comments)
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15 New Communities Accepted into WEDC Downtown Revitalization Program

Program will help communities revitalize downtown and urban commercial districts 

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has accepted 15 new municipalities into its Connect Communities Program, an initiative that works with communities to advance downtown and urban corridor revitalization efforts. 

With the latest additions, there are now 67 participants in the Connect Communities Program, which provides access to resources and training to help downtown organizations pursue revitalization and redevelopment efforts. Since the program was launched in January 2013, participating communities have reported adding 175 net new businesses and more than 550 jobs, as well as $30 million in private investment. 

The new Connect Communities participants are: 

  • Barron Chamber of Commerce
  • Downtown Beaver Dam, Inc.
  • Town of Boulder Junction
  • City of Brillion
  • Chetek Chamber of Commerce
  • Cross Plains Chamber of Commerce
  • Cumberland Chamber of Commerce
  • Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Florence County Chamber of Commerce
  • Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
  • Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21
  • Mount Horeb Area EDC
  • Village of New Glarus
  • Reedsburg Revitalization Organization
  • City of Waupun

“The Connect Communities program has made an impact on dozens of downtown districts in every region of the state,” said Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “Downtowns and urban commercial districts play an important role in their communities and in Wisconsin’s overall economy. This program is just one way in which WEDC works closely with local downtown leaders to help them develop strategies for success.” 

The program, launched in early 2013, is designed to support and complement the Wisconsin Main Street Program, which has supported projects statewide resulting in the creation of more than 3,100 net new businesses and 7,200 net new jobs since the program’s inception in 1987.

Prior to being accepted to the Connect Communities Program, applicants had to explain the type of activities or assistance that they hope to undertake as part of the program and identify a local team that will be responsible for carrying out activities and participating in program events and training. 

Connect Communities participants benefit from a variety of assistance and resources simply by being part of a broad-based network of communities with similar objectives, but specific program services include: 

  • A ListServ/network group to get new ideas from staff and other participating Connect Communities
  • Participation in Main Street workshops focused on a downtown revitalization topic
  • An on-site visit from a member of WEDC’s community development staff to assist in identifying needs and offering assistance
  • Training for each community’s downtown director or board president
  • Roundtable discussion groups on pertinent topics
  •  Access to WEDC’s downtown development online library
  • Access to resources and training materials developed for Wisconsin Main Street communities
  • Invitation to the annual Main Street Awards program, plus eligibility to nominate a project for a Connect Communities award
  • Quarterly webinars/regional training 

Wisconsin Receives National Award for Economic Development
Area Development magazine ranks Wisconsin one of the top states for job creation

Area Development, a leading national publication covering site selection and facility planning, announced that Wisconsin is a recipient of its 2016 “Silver Shovel Award,” which recognizes excellence in economic development.

“It is an honor for Wisconsin to be recognized as a leader in job creation,” said Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “2016 Silver Shovel Award underscores the sound strategy we have in place to drive economic development in Wisconsin.”

Area Development’s Shovel Awards recognize the state economic development agencies – including WEDC – that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions. In the competition, states are judged in categories determined by population. Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana and Missouri won Silver Shovels for states with populations between 5 million and 8 million. Tennessee won the Gold Shovel Award in that population category.

The awards are made in recognition of economic development projects undertaken in 2015 that will create a significant number of high-value-added new jobs as well as capital investment. Among the WEDC-supported projects that played a role in Wisconsin winning the award are Exact Sciences Corporation’s $26.2 million expansion in Madison, which is expected to create up to 758 jobs, and Phillips-Medisize’s $35 million expansion, which is expected to create 484 jobs.

“The states and communities receiving 2016 Shovel Awards not only have the right combination of factors to attract and retain business,” said Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development. “They also display a pro-business attitude and marketing savvy. They deserve to be recognized for winning high-impact economic development projects.”

A report on the 2016 Shovel Award winners is published in the Q2/2016 issue of Area Development and posted online at

Trade Venture Offers Gateway to South America for Wisconsin Companies
Global trade venture in September will include visits to Argentina and Chile

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is inviting companies to take part in a global trade venture to South America in September.

Due to the geographic proximity, cultural ties to the U.S. and economic growth opportunities, South America’s markets are attractive prospects for U.S. exporters. Argentina and Chile are especially strong prospects. Chile is one of the continent’s most stable and business-friendly markets, while Argentina is undergoing economic reforms and is expected to present strong opportunities for growth as its business environment improves.

Wisconsin’s industry strengths align well with the needs of the Argentina and Chile markets. Important market sectors include: agricultural machinery, electrical power equipment, environmental and water technologies, food processing equipment, medical technology, mining and earthmoving equipment, construction, animal genetics and food ingredients, to name a few.

This trade venture’s goal is to connect Wisconsin companies with potential buyers, distributors and other partners in these markets. This trade venture is suitable for companies that are not yet exporting into these markets. In addition, companies that are already exporting into these markets can use the global trade venture to enhance their business ties in Argentina and Chile and to expand their market presence.

“Through these global trade ventures and the assistance of WEDC’s global network, we take the mystery out of exporting and help provide a clear path for Wisconsin companies to grow their sales in international markets,” said Katy Sinnott, WEDC vice president of international business development.

The global trade venture will take place Sept. 24-30, 2016, and will include segments in Buenos Aires and Santiago, both countries’ capitals as well as their centers of finance and banking. In each city, participating companies will be scheduled for customized business meetings with potential local partners hand-picked for their companies by Wisconsin’s authorized trade representatives in the market, based on the Wisconsin companies’ strengths, needs and preferences. Meetings in other cities may also be arranged depending on participating companies’ needs.

Each participant in the global trade venture will also receive market intelligence specific to his or her company, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing the company’s product or service into these markets.

The fee for this program is $2,500, which covers market research and one-on-one appointments; pre-trip and in-country staff support; group transportation between airport and hotel in each city; country briefings and networking events; and some group meals.

The program registration deadline is Aug. 15, 2016. For more information about this global trade venture, please visit

WEDC’s foreign direct investment website is now fully translated into Spanish. Check out the other language options, including Japanese, German, French and Chinese.

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