2020 Annual Summary – Grant County Economic Development Corporation
The past year was certainly a “horse of a different color”, a shade that I had never seen. During the past recession, I would have summarized that our large businesses and industries struggled, but our small businesses, downtown, and retail sector had a stable year. But in 2020, most all of our industries and larger companies did fine, while some did very well. Our downtown retail and restaurants, though, did not fair well. With that, I will try to summarize the past year.
We had 32 prospects, which is above my goal of 25 and a very respectable number. Prospects rarely go from initial meetings to reality in the first year. I worked on projects ranging from over 300,000 square feet to new entrepreneur start-ups. Several manufacturers are expanding. An area dairy farmer – Holthaus Dairy – launched their own A2 line of milk and cheese. I initiated negotiation on the purchase of land in Lancaster for an energy utility and helped finance the purchase of a bar/restaurant in downtown Boscobel. The new Lancaster Hotel is nearing completion. These are all projects that I was involved in. I have a goal of 100,000 s.f. of new construction annually. Though I believe I fell short of that goal, 2021 is looking promising.
When I was hired in 1999, my board indicated an emphasis on attracting revenue for our businesses and communities. I wrote several grants for our businesses and municipalities this year. Though we have not heard results on all of the applications, several were awarded, totaling over $1.5MM. My annual goal is $300,000. The projects that have not yet been announced could total over $3MM. We have received preliminary approval from the Wisconsin DOA on a CDBG CV grant application. This would allow us to support 40 Grant County small businesses with $5,000 grants to help them in 2021. I will be working with area chambers, economic development, and local clerks to identify businesses for this program. The WEDC “We’re All In Grants” were well received in the county. Phase 1 funded 359 business applications in Grant County, totaling $897,000.
We continue to work with several communities on housing development and planning. Potosi is moving ahead with several housing initiatives.
DPI Career Pathways is a new state initiative. This connects our K-12 schools with our area businesses, educating both on the opportunities for careers in business. It shows businesses how schools can assist in the development of future workers.
Tourism is of major importance to the county and region. Our website is the County’s tourism website. We work to keep the calendars and other information current. ATV/UTV maps were a hot item requested during this time from our internet link. We are planning to do an overhaul of our website. Whether it is in 2021 or not, remains to be determined. We know that our county suffered in certain venues in 2020, while others did well. We are working to raise up those events and businesses displaced and continue to accelerate those who did well.
Thanks to all of you for your support. We will be here for you in 2021!
Ron and Darlene