CUBA CITY – Cuba City was recognized for its outstanding downtown revitalization efforts at the 26th Wisconsin Main Street Awards ceremony on April 7 in Wisconsin Rapids. Cuba City took top honors in the Downtown Revitalization category for a city with under 5,500 residents.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) recognized the efforts by Wisconsin Main Street volunteers and staff for their historic preservation and downtown economic development efforts of communities in Wisconsin in 2016. Cuba City had many different facets that contributed to winning the award, including the façade improvement program, new flower pots, the relocation of the historical Cuba City State Bank clock, new presidential shields and new street and Christmas lighting.
“WEDC congratulates Cuba City and its many partners for their outstanding efforts to revitalize and improve downtown,” Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, said. “A vibrant downtown is critical to a community’s overall economic development as well as the quality of life for its residents, and we commend the city for being among the best in the state when it comes to strengthening its downtown.”
Cuba City Economic Development Director Bob Jones said the starting point was having a plan already established. He credits the city’s forward thinking and action-taking to create a strategic development plan. It outlined the city’s tax incremental financing districts, grant opportunities and ideas for improvements.
“This recognition goes well beyond the city itself,” Cuba City Mayor Tom Gile said, “Over 14 groups lent a hand to the planning and execution of our downtown revitalization efforts. This included many business and property owners who contributed their time and money into making our downtown one that others are taking notice of on a daily basis.”
Partners include the City of Presidents Committee, Cuba City Chamber of Commerce, Cuba City Common Council, Cuba City Community Development Corporation, Cuba City Department of Public Works, Cuba City Utilities, Cuba City Downtown Taskforce, Cuba City Garden Club, Cuba City Greenhouse, business and commercial property owners, individual and corporate donors, WPPI Energy, WEDC Connecting Communities, and Vierbicher Associates.
“Everything happening in 2016 is pretty unusual,” Jones said.
The city started a façade improvement program in 2015 that garnered three initial projects.
“Those first few completed were so dramatic, I believe it encouraged others to participate,” Jones said.
In 2016 there were 12 new façade improvement projects approved. Three of those 12 are still being completed, but the funding reamins in place for them.
Delete - Merge Up“The projects went well beyond the façades,” Jones said.
In 2016, the historical Cuba City State Bank clock was relocated to the caboose along Main Street. The caboose was repainted. New flowerpots were purchased by local businesses and the Cuba City Chamber of Commerce. The new presidential shields were placed along Main Street in 2015, adding to the revived appearance. The city also added new LED lighting to both its street lights and Christmas lights. Several streets near Main Street were also repaved to improve the appearance of the city’s downtown.
“I hear about the changes every day,” Jones said. “Businesses have said they have seen more business. The appearance of a town really lends to its business.”
Jones said the award recognizes how many people participated to make the community better.
“It demonstrates how well people work together in this community,” Jones said. “They have a positive attitude, get on the bandwagon and get things done.”
To celebrate the accomplishment and recognize all who helped beautify Cuba City’s downtown, an event is being held on Friday, April 28. From 5-6 p.m. is the reception, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m. The event will be held at Banfield’s Swiss Haus, 273 N. Hollow Road, south of Cuba City. There is a cost of $15 per person. Tickets can be purchased at city hall, American Bank, Mound City Bank, Gile Cheese or Weber’s Meats. You may also call Donna Rogers at 563-599-0098. Details are available at the city website www.cubacity.org or at City Hall.
Wisconsin Main Street is a community development program administered by WEDC that targets Wisconsin’s historic commercial districts. WEDC provides technical support and training to the 34 Main Street communities to help them revitalize their business districts based on guidelines developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The City of Cuba City has been part of the Wisconsin Main Street Program since 2014.
For a complete list of all the 2016 Main Street award winners, visit www.InWisconsin.com.