Crawford County reviews Driftless Development contribution request

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When the Crawford County Finance Committee convened on Sept. 20, Gary Koch, 3rd Ward County Supervisor and Finance Committee Chair, addressed the small group of business representatives sat in chairs along the wall of the conference room.

“I want to say that with all the requests that we’re looking at today. We’re probably not going to make a determination today until we get our arms around the larger budget.”

Koch, along with the other members of the Finance Committee, held audience for Driftless Development (DDI) and other community groups/businesses to make a case for county contributions for 2024. For Driftless and Prairie du Chien Main Street, Carol Roth, Executive Director of DDI, and Pam Ritchie, DDI Board Treasurer, presented numbers for Driftless Development’s role in the growth of Prairie du Chien and the surrounding area.

“I just want to talk about what you get for your money,” Roth said as she handed out summary sheets to review Driftless Development’s activity for the 2022-23 year.

Roth highlighted areas DDI benefited the community, from Downtown Revitalization to Business Development. Roth cited $940,000 in grant funds obtained for projects like the proposed Career and Technical Center ($5,000 for feasibility study), the Dream Up Childcare Grant ($75,000) and Bounceback Grant ($600,000) among others. Additionally, Roth provided material to show DDI assisted 60 businesses to acquire $960,000 in total grant funds. These grants went to assist businesses and individuals in Crawford County.

Along with grants, DDI and PdC Main Street reported creating more than 65 jobs in 2022-23. DDI also opened an office location in Gays Mills, WI.

Roth also announced her retirement at the end of the year, but said, “The most important thing is Driftless Development gets someone to take my place.” Roth noted DDI won’t “be going away” and plan to continue their work to improve Crawford County.

Koch noted that Driftless Development’s contribution request was the largest ask at $70,000.

Ritchie reviewed DDI and Main Street’s financial information: DDI’s August 2023 financial statement showed DDI/Main Street’s total balance at $52,604.71 for August. The Farmer’s Market reported a year-to-date loss of $381.05.

“We should always have money in the bank,” Ritchie said. “We never want to run ourselves to zero.” Ritchie noted that, even as a non-profit, DDI has aimed to be financially stable.

Ritchie cited the DDI statement to show the Marquette and Jolliet 350th Expedition Anniversary resulted in a $1.8 million economic impact for the area. DDI’s revenue for the event amounted to $172,215,07 and expenses totaled $194,876.57. When outstanding revenues and expenses were considered, the event had a total net of -$1,697 for DDI.

“We weren’t trying to make money,” Ritchie said. “We were trying to promote the area.” Roth said the goal for DDI was to “break even” on the event.

Koch said the Finance Committee would revisit requests on Oct. 4.

Along with Koch, Committee members Greg Russell, Gerald Krachey, Wayne Jerrett and Geri Kozelka were present at the meeting.


Other News:

-Roger Slama, Member of Coulee Cap’s Board of Directors, highlighted the Cap’s work, and said, “We’re the only agency that helps homeless people in Crawford County.” Slama noted funds received from the county last year were utilized to obtain housing and other services for people in the area. Slama also said the Coulee Cap Board made the decision to build a new facility, which would increase the Cap’s space from 5,000 ft. to at least 15,000 ft. Coulee Cap made a request for $35,000.

-Robert Moses, CEO of the Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce, stated county funds assisted the Chamber to help 25,000 visitors in the area last year.

-Driftless Wisconsin asked for a contribution amount of “more than $5,000.” A representative did not speak on the contribution request during the meeting.

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