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The business district is often the gateway into a neighborhood, and its health and condition shape a community’s image. Vibrant commercial districts attract residents and visitors, encourage private investment and promote safety.
As partners of the Main Street Milwaukee program, and with support from our national office, LISC Milwaukee has developed a high degree of competency in commercial corridor revitalization. LISC connects businesses to technical assistance providers, increases access to capital, and encourages owners to actively participate in sustaining the vitality of the district.
LISC’s Commercial Corridor Revitalization Strategy works on three levels:
City-Wide Capacity Building
LISC facilitates a Commercial Revitalization Affinity Group (CRAG) for any practitioner interested in developing Milwaukee’s central city commercial districts. This group includes district managers, property owners, business owners, and others interested in economic revitalization of our central city. This group allows practitioners to share best practices, gain access to resources and networks, and learn key skills related to the advancement of central city neighborhood business development. LISC also advocates and educates the broader community about the economic development needs of the central city.
Commercial District Development
LISC supports Commercial District revitalization efforts in the City of Milwaukee, but focuses primarily on its five targeted Sustainable Communities — Clarke Square, Harambee, Layton Boulevard West, Lindsay Heights, and Washington Park. Assistance is customized for each district and includes grants, loans and technical assistance for real estate inventories, community safety initiatives, market studies, façade improvement programs, special events and other initiatives. LISC also creates opportunities for networking and sharing of best practices among commercial corridor practitioners within these five neighborhoods, and helps practitioners link their economic development strategies to broader neighborhood plans.
Small Business Development
In addition to working with commercial districts, LISC Milwaukee promotes strategies that enable small businesses to thrive within these districts. LISC hosts a Commercial Revitalization Affinity Group (CRAG) for Small Businesses within LISC’s targeted neighborhoods. Through a nine-month training series, small business owners share best practices and challenges and learn skills fundamental to operating a successful business. In addition, working through and with its neighborhood-based partners, LISC provides grants and technical assistance to these businesses for strategic initiatives. Grants are given within LISC’s targeted Sustainable Communities’ neighborhoods, and projects must support overall commercial district goals and aspirations.
In the news: Former ‘Main Street’ commercial corridors offered second chance. When the Main Street Milwaukee program suffered a funding cut earlier in 2012, the commercial corridors it supports throughout the city were threatened. That is, until LISC Milwaukee decided to step in. Read full article.
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