Main Street analyzes Prairie in town hall

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Prairie du Chien Main Street held a town hall meeting on Aug. 8 at 5:15 p.m. in the upstairs community room at City Hall. The meeting was billed as a chance for members of the community to come and share ideas to improve the town’s development.

The event speaker, Errin Welty, Senior Director of Downtown Development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), fielded ideas and showed a presentation to display how Main Street America could facilitate Prairie’s growth.

Welty stated the goal from Prairie’s Main Street was to establish goals and measurable outcomes for the local industries. The WEDC has facilitated this process in 36 main streets by providing analysis, webinar trainings, discussion groups and other advisory resoruces to its members.

“We’re here to provide the tools to help you,” Welty said in her presentation.

Welty noted The WEDC and Main Street have worked with Prairie du Chien off-and-on for more than 15 years, and Prairie is the only Main Street to leave the program, make adjustments required by the programs and return.

“Main Street is for everybody,” Welty said. “So, if you’re a library, a historical society, we want to provide support.”

Part of the presentation included statistical information accumulated through methods like geocaching to get a better picture of Prairie du Chien’s downtown activity. The project collected data throughout 2022.

Prairie’s Main Street downtown considered 11 blocks of the downtown area for the statistics measurements. The data reported 768 employees from 9 restaurants and 32 retailers. There were 3 storefront vacancies and 160 residential units in the same area. 40 events attracted more than 9,500 attendees during the year. For traffic, there were 46,000 summer visitors and 126,000 unique visitors over the course of 2022. 82 percent of these were considered destination visitors. Two new businesses were recruited to the Main Street effort during the year.

Welty broke down Prairie’s financial performance and stated the downtown district had less than the average budget for its Main Street when considering the population of the town. Welty noted Prairie had a $115,000 main street budget, compared to the $177,000 average. Prairie managed to excel in grants ($15,000) and sponsorship ($40,000). Welty noted other areas, like Event Income ($10,000) and Charitable Giving ($6,000) fell short of the average of other similar-sized communities.

“These are definitely some areas to improve on,” Welty said in a review of the numbers for the PDC Main Street Board.

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