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Village receives $2.2 million grant for new industrial park

MUSCODA - Muscoda last week announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) granted the village $2.2 million dollars to develop a new industrial park. Funding for the grant comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which congress passed in March 2021 to help communities recover from the pandemic recession. The grant requires a 20 percent matching investment from the village of $550,455.

Troy Maggied, executive director of the Southwest Regional Planning Commission wrote the grant, which included a feasibility study to gauge interest in the new building sites, which are located near the railroad line and will be tied to Grant County’s new fiber optic loop. The 16-acre park will be constructed near the fiber optic tower on Old County Road P and will have three to five building lots, according to Maggied.

“Muscoda has a real unique position,” said Maggied. “There’s not a lot of shovel-ready land around with access to the railroad.”

“Last time fuel prices were this high, I saw major interest in rail,” said Ron Brisbois, Executive Director of Grant County Economic Development Corporation, who will help Muscoda connect with businesses that might want to locate there.

Brisbois stressed the importance of a good website, since most site selection takes place online. “By the time a business calls you and starts asking you questions, you’re a finalist,” he said.

Construction on the park is expected to begin next summer.

Growing industrial sector

The new development in Muscoda will join 10 existing parks, including one in Muscoda. Other available sites include Boscobel, Dickeyville, Fennimore, Lancaster, Cuba City, Hazel Green, Livingston, and Platteville.

Occasionally these municipalities compete for a prospective business, according to Brisbois. More commonly, he said, a business chooses its location based on proximity either to suppliers of raw materials, or customers purchasing its products. Access to certain types of transportation is also key, he said.

The ongoing worker shortage is impacting growth in the region. Southwestern Wisconsin, and the state as a whole, is largely unaffected by the so-called Great Resignation—the notion that workers, especially in retail and service industries, left the workforce during the pandemic. With unemployment at historic lows (Grant County is around two percent), it’s simply not the case that “no one wants to work.” A shortage of housing affordable for working-class people is slowing migration into the region, Brisbois said.

Rural development

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) earmarked some of its funding for rural areas, for example, in direct grants to counties. But smaller municipalities like Muscoda are at a disadvantage in accessing funds, according to Ron Kind, who represents Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District and sits on the house Ways and Means Committee.

“Larger communities can afford to hire a grant writer,” he said. “I’m keeping very close tabs on these grants to make sure even cities that can’t afford a grant writer get considered.”

“Investing in smaller communities is vital for their survival, Kind said “We have to make sure they have the economic base, or we’re going to losing more families from rural areas.”