“A vibrant downtown is essential for a community to thrive,” remarked Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman. “Kenosha is dedicated to revitalizing its Downtown Area and is excited to build on the momentum that has been established. Kenosha has a beautiful and accessible lakefront, a strategic location, three institutions of higher learning and many other advantages that give it tremendous potential. The City of Kenosha is extremely pleased to be named a Main Street community. ”
A delegation from Kenosha presented the case for downtown Kenosha’s designation at the 2013 Wisconsin Main Street New Community Selection Meeting in Madison on April 5th.
In its letter of acceptance to Kenosha, Reed Hall, Secretary and CEO of the WEDC, stated “[Kenosha] certainly represents the commitment and capacity we are looking for.”
The Wisconsin Main Street Program is a comprehensive revitalization program managed by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) designed to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in Wisconsin. The WEDC annually selects communities to join the program. These communities receive technical support and training needed to restore their Main Streets to centers of community activity and commerce. The actual investment from Wisconsin Main Street includes $125,000 in on-site visits, training and technical assistance; more than 80-day presence of staff and consultants; and an annual investment of approximately $5,000 after the start-up phase. Some of the services Main Street provides are onsite volunteer training programs; director orientation and training sessions; advanced training on specific downtown issues, such as marketing, business recruitment, volunteer development, and historic preservation; onsite visits to help each community develop its strengths and plan for success; onsite design assistance; and onsite counseling to business owners and managers. The official partnership becomes effective July 1, 2013, but the planning process will begin sooner with a kickoff visit from Main Street officials happening in the coming months.
Kenosha’s designation as a Main Street Community is the result of a community-wide effort to focus on the redevelopment of Kenosha’s Downtown Area. In 2011, the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA), the City of Kenosha, and a steering committee of community leaders engaged the Lakota Group, a well respected urban planning and design firm, to help set clear priorities.
An extensive planning process ensued and involved significant discussions and dialogue with key stakeholders and the community at large. The result was the creation of the Downtown Strategic Development Plan, which provides a road map for Downtown Revitalization. This plan was formally adopted by the City of Kenosha Common Council in October of 2012. Becoming a Main Street Community was a key recommendation in the Downtown Strategic Development Plan, as well as the creation of a Downtown management entity with a full-time Executive Director to lead the organization. The City of Kenosha, the Lakeshore Business Improvement District (BID), KABA with economic development funding from Kenosha County, the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce recently approved a funding agreement for the Executive Director position for a Downtown management entity. A search committee has initiated the recruitment process and expects the new employee, which will be housed in the KABA offices, to start on or around June 1.
Local developer and chairman of Kenosha’s Lakeshore BID Paul McDonough said, “Main Street designation is exciting as it provides the foundation for a community-wide focus on redeveloping our wonderful lakefront downtown.”