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Connect Communities


Downtown and historic commercial districts play an important role in their communities and in Wisconsin’s overall economy, functioning not only as prominent employment and business centers, but oftentimes as the historic foundation of the municipalities they serve. Successful commercial districts don’t just happen. They need to be planned and nurtured. Their prosperity requires interest and action from many stakeholders who share a vision for the community.

Connect Communities helps local leaders and members of the community leverage the unique assets of their downtowns and commercial districts, providing access to resources and networking opportunities to those interested in starting a district revitalization effort.

How It Works

Connect Communities program participants will have immediate access to experienced staff within the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and to the leaders within the Connect Communities Network.


Program services include:

  • A ListServ/network group to get new ideas from staff and other participating Connect Communities
  • Participation in Main Street Executive Director Workshops with a focus on downtown revitalization topics
  • An on-site visit from one of WEDC’s community development staff to assist in identifying needs and offering assistance
  • Training for your downtown director or board president
  • Regional roundtable discussion groups on pertinent topics held once every year
  • Possible opportunities to link college/university student projects to your downtown/urban commercial district
  • Roundtable discussion groups on pertinent topics held twice per year
  • Access to WEDC’s online downtown development library
  • Access to resources and training materials that have been 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
  • Webinars/regional training

Program Requirements

A participating community must have an organization or group that focuses on downtown/ historic commercial district issues, have access to a computer with required software, can commit to a majority of training opportunities, and fulfill annual reporting requirements. Communities will be required to sign a participation agreement with WEDC and pay an annual fee of $200.