The Historic King Drive Business Improvement District (BID) No. 8 in the city of Milwaukee has been designated as a Wisconsin Main Street community by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), joining a select group of communities that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to revitalizing their commercial districts.
The BID, which was created in 1992, is the state’s 34th currently active Wisconsin Main Street community. It is the only organization in Wisconsin to earn the designation in 2017.
The Historic King Drive BID was accepted into the Wisconsin Main Street Program after an extensive application process that highlights local achievements as well as numerous ongoing projects that will continue to improve and enhance the business district.
The organization received the designation at a ceremony Tuesday at Pete’s Fruit Market on North Martin Luther King Drive that was attended by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; WEDC Board President Lisa Mauer; Deshea Agee, executive director of the Historic King Drive BID; and other state and city leaders.
“For more than a quarter of a century, the Historic King Drive BID No. 8 has worked closely with city officials, community leaders, businesses and residents to promote the unique businesses in the neighborhood while successfully recruiting new ones,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “Thanks to their efforts, the district has seen $400 million in investment since 1992 and has a bright future ahead of it. We are proud to welcome the Historic King Drive BID as the newest Wisconsin Main Street community.”
“We are excited to be a part of the Wisconsin Main Street Program,” said Agee. “As we work toward bringing new businesses and creating more vibrancy in the commercial district, the Wisconsin Main Street program will provide valuable tools and resources to help make Milwaukee’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive the best of the nearly 900 King Drives in the nation.”
The Historic King Drive BID No. 8 is also the first Wisconsin Main Street community to be part of the National Main Street Center’s new Urban Main initiative. This is a national initiative that will provide support to older and under-resourced commercial districts in urban centers all around the country.
The announcement came as state officials joined local leaders in 12 communities around the state to celebrate Wisconsin Main Street Day, which highlighted the important role that downtown business districts play in economic development.
Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, WEDC Deputy Secretary and COO Tricia Braun, and other officials visited the communities to celebrate the success of the Wisconsin Main Street and Connect Communities Programs, which provide technical support and guidance to downtown groups. Many of the events also included announcements about local businesses’ openings and other new downtown initiatives.
The Wisconsin Main Street Day tour included the following communities: Ashland, De Pere, Fond du Lac, La Crosse, Port Washington, Princeton, Ripon, Shullsburg, Tomah, Viroqua and Wausau.
The Wisconsin Main Street Program, which is administered by WEDC, is a comprehensive revitalization program designed to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in Wisconsin. After a thorough application and review process, WEDC selects communities to join the program, which is part of a nationwide program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. These communities receive technical support and training needed to ensure that their downtown districts continue to thrive as centers of community activity and commerce
Communities selected to participate in the Wisconsin Main Street Program receive free technical assistance aimed at enabling them to professionally manage their downtown or historic commercial district to better compete with alternative commerce centers.
Since the program’s inception, Wisconsin Main Street communities have created more than 2,600 net new businesses and nearly 14,000 net new jobs. They also have generated more than $1.7 billion in public and private investment since then, and are renovating more than 250 buildings per year.