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Hillsboro welcomed into downtown revitalization effort
Connect Communities program provides access to resources, training
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The City of Hillsboro has been accepted into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Connect Communities Program, an initiative that works with communities to advance downtown and urban corridor revitalization efforts.

Hillsboro is one of 21 communities around the state that have been added to the program this year. They join 19 communities that were part of the inaugural year of Connect Communties.

The Connect Communities Program provides access to resources and training to help communities pursue revitalization and redevelopment efforts. The program is designed to support and complement the Wisconsin Main Street program, which has supported projects statewide resulting in the creation of more than 4,500 new businesses and 17,000 new jobs since the program’s inception in 1987.

“The WEDC congratulates Hillsboro for being accepted into this program,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “A vibrant downtown is key to the overall economic health of the community, and we applaud Hillsboro for taking this step toward making its business district even stronger.”

“We have high hopes for the success of the new Connect Communities members,” added WEDC Community Development Director Jason Scott. “Existing program participants have expressed their appreciation for the creation of a program that supports and encourages local economic development efforts. It is our hope that by doubling the size of the program, the benefits of being part of the Connect Communities network will also increase.”

“The City is excited to begin participating in the Connect Communities Program,” said Adam Sonntag, Hillsboro’s City Administrator. “Hillsboro’s downtown is the core of our local economy and this program will allow us to continue to focus on downtown development and revitalization.”

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 one of WEDC’s community development staff to assist in identifying needs and offering assistance

• Training for 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

Although the original intent was to accept just 20 new participants this year, the second year of the program, the strength of the applications received persuaded WEDC to accept everyone who applied.

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.