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$500,000 state grant will help expand Food Co-op in Menomonie

Project expected to be a catalyst to city’s downtown redevelopment plans

MADISON – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded a $500,000 grant to the City of Menomonie to help expand a downtown food market—a project expected to create new jobs and play a key role in the redevelopment of downtown.

The Community Development Investment Grant will fill the remaining gap in the $3.9 million expansion and relocation project that will more than quadruple the retail space at the Menomonie Market Food Co-op. The project will create 25 new jobs at the city’s only downtown grocery store.

“A strong downtown is vital to the overall economic health of a community, and the Community Development Investment Grant Program is helping communities all over the state revitalize their business districts,” said Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who announced the grant at the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation’s annual banquet. “Not only will this grant directly benefit those who live and work in the area, but a vibrant downtown will help other Dunn County businesses recruit and retain quality employees.”

“The City of Menomonie is pleased to have the support of the WEDC grant for the Menomonie Market Food Co-op and Farmer’s Market projects,” said Mayor Randy Knaack. “The impact this will have on our community is great by supporting a community need, creating jobs and improving our tax base. This improvement will initiate an economic development reaction that will affect multiple businesses within the area in a positive way, continuing the positive growth in our community.”

Crystal Halvorson, general manager of the Menomonie Market Food Co-op, added: “We are thrilled to learn that the City of Menomonie has been awarded this grant. For Menomonie Market, it means we can build the grocery store that our owners need, and be ready to do even more work to meet our goals of a thriving, healthy community as soon as we are open. Restoring the farmer’s market to our downtown and building a permanent structure that can accommodate all sorts of functions is a great way for the city to invest in our community.”

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts—primarily in downtown areas—throughout the state. Since its inception in 2013, the program has provided more than $5.8 million in grants to 39 communities.

The City of Menomonie is one of seven communities awarded a grant out of 32 applications received from the throughout the state in this round of funding. Communities were selected based on the ability to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need, and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

WEDC will hold two additional competitions for funding this year with application deadlines of Jan. 30 and April 17.

“Since its inception, WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program has provided $6.7 million in funding to 38 communities in every part of the state,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development agency. “We are pleased to assist Menomonie with a project that will pay dividends for the entire community.”

Menomonie Market Food Co-op, which was established in 1973, has outgrown its current location and was having difficulty finding the space it needed to grow downtown. The state grant, along with $386,000 in funding provided by the city, will enable the co-op to demolish a building that is owned by Dunn County. A new 13,000-square-foot building will include a community classroom, expanded product lines, and a largely expanded deli serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. There will be more space for produce and meat, which will provide more opportunities for local food vendors to sell their product.

As part of the project, Menomonie Farmers Market, which had been located nine blocks east of downtown, will be relocated to a permanent plaza near the co-op and an underused city park.

The expanded Menomonie Market will be key to the redevelopment and continued economic development plan for downtown Menomonie and the surrounding area. The enhancements have already helped to initiate other developments, such as a $6 million mixed-use development, a $3 million drug store and a $2 million dental office complex. City and state officials say those developments will not only increase the tax base, but will make downtown more attractive to additional development.