Celebrating Main Street La CrosseTuesday, June 17, 2014 - Press Release
The American Main Street is the economic engine, the big stage, and the core of our communities. Our Main Streets tell us who we are; they share our past and shape our future. We visit our historic downtown districts to explore our culture and to discover our identity.
In that spirit, we celebrate today as La Crosse becomes the only city in 2014 to receive the “Wisconsin Main Street” designation, making it eligible for training and support to maintain and improve its historic commercial district. Downtown La Crosse is home to the Mississippi River, fantastic restaurants, bars, hotels, and a variety of specialty shops. With more than 400 businesses, it is the perfect place to experience all that the City of La Crosse and the beautiful Coulee Region have to offer.
Each year, after a thorough review process, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation designates at least one official Wisconsin Main Street community. From small, rural towns to large cities like Milwaukee and Green Bay, the designation honors communities that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to downtown revitalization.
The program is a unique preservation-based economic development tool that enables our communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets—from historic, cultural, and architectural resources to local enterprises and community pride.
As part of a comprehensive strategy that addresses the variety of issues and problems that challenge traditional commercial districts, the Main Street program advocates for restoration of historic downtown character while pursuing traditional development strategies like marketing, recruitment, and real estate development. The end goal is to enable communities to professionally manage a downtown or historic commercial district that is stable, physically attractive, competitive, and visible.
Restoring these traditional commercial districts is crucial to the growth of our local and state economies. To build on the success of the Main Street Program, last December Governor Walker signed into law the Historic Preservation Tax Credit that doubles the incentive to preserve historic structures. By increasing state tax credits, the bipartisan law lessens the financial burden of renovation and revitalization costs which may have prevented rebuilding projects in the past.
The Historic Preservation Tax Credit and the Main Street Program are just two of the innovative efforts by state government to assist communities in creating environments where small businesses will grow and prosper. For instance, today I am also attending the grand opening of Harter’s Quick Clean-Up Recycling Center. With the assistance of economic development investments from WEDC, this new state-of-the-art green circle recycling facility will add 15 new jobs to our local economy and allow us to process material here in La Crosse that was previously shipped to Minneapolis for recovery.
There is no greater country on Earth for entrepreneurship than America, and I believe there is no greater place to cultivate that entrepreneurial drive than Wisconsin. By leveraging our unique character as a state that is ethical, hardworking, independent, and success-minded, we can create the right climate that maximizes the potential for economic growth in Wisconsin. While there can be no quick fixes for declining downtown and urban neighborhoods, downtown La Crosse proves that renewal to a thriving, vibrant area is always possible.
Wisconsin’s main streets have always been the hearts of our towns, and together we can once again make them the hub for business and jobs in our communities.