In mid-September 2014 a small business forum was held in downtown Waupaca. In conjunction with the City of Waupaca and the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Community Account Manager for Waupaca presented the A, B, C’s of redevelopment.

In order to have successful redevelopment in the City of Waupaca it is crucial to define the approach. What are the goals and how can everyone best work toward them. The ultimate goal is to create a strong return on investment, but what is the vision and how will strategies be defined to best accomplish that?

  • A vision is the guiding force for a community, its organizations and businesses. How will it be in the future? This can be accomplished by capturing strengths, providing inspiration, and developing a purpose.

Typically redevelopment strategies can be broken into two categories: singular or multi-faceted. The Wisconsin Main Street Program is multi-faceted. While Waupaca is not currently a member of the Wisconsin Main Street Program, the multi-faceted approach allows for a community based strategy. Such a strategy allows for greater inclusion throughout the community because it is more pointed and defined in its approaches. To redevelop downtown Waupaca the following five points will be used.

  • Organizational: Focuses on communication, public relations efforts, volunteer development, fundraising for redevelopment, and incorporation of town meetings
  • Marketing Efforts: Traditional advertising (including TV, radio, and billboards), newsletters, signage, and a strong online presence through social media and website.
  • Business Recruitment and Retention: Offering business incentives, targeting specific business types, hosting networking events, and incorporating co-op advertising.
  • Design: Streetscape improvements, focuses on building assistance and façade programs, as well as signage and amenities.
  • Events: Identifying what people celebrate as a community and creating events year-round.

Across City Hall, the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, and through resources made available from State agencies including East Central Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation it is imperative that any and all tools be examined and made use of to effectively redevelop the downtown community. Additionally, educating across different groups and maximizing public and private partnerships are key. Tools can include advisory, financial, or operational assistance, specifically:

  • Community Development Investment Grants
  • Historic Tax Credits
  • Qualified Rehab Tax Credits
  • Market Analysis

Such efforts from the City can be broken down specifically to the Economic Development Strategic Plan, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and its updated Form Based Zoning Code.

Next Steps: Focuses for 2015

In mid-December, prior to the start of the Christmas and New Year holidays, a survey, drafted by the Community & Economic Development Department and based off the first small business forum, was sent out to business members in the downtown area, including those who had been in attendance at the first small business forum. The goal of the survey was to continue moving the discussion forward by having an understanding of what matters most to the community and how owners can best contribute to achieve these needs.

Respondents were asked to rank how much effort should be put on each initiative. Options included focusing on business promotion, pedestrian amenities and evening safety, reviewing City zoning, and creating additional housing. These focuses were a direct result of brainstorming during the first business forum. Results will be collected and tabulated through the New Year and be shared and discussed in earnest during the first meeting of 2015, which will be held January 19th. This will allow a greater understanding of different needs, whether by business type or block, and how these partners in the community plan on directly resolving these issues.