State's first business improvement district celebrates 25 years

Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton coming to laud downtown BID

Trevor Kupfer

LT. GOV. BARB LAWTON: Maybe she’ll visit the Volume One office again to say hi. You know, whatever. No big deal. We’re cool like that.

Twenty-five years ago Wisconsin lawmakers passed legislation that gave municipalities the power to create committees specifically aimed at promoting, managing, developing, and maintaining a community business sector. This September, the very first business improvement district in the state will celebrate a quarter-century in existence. And that BID is right here in Eau Claire. “The idea was to get a group of people together to promote long-term interests in keeping downtown occupied and looking nice,” said South Barstow BID Chair Mel Jahnke, of Imagineering Computer Consultants. To celebrate the occasion, the 15-person committee will unveil new banners and refurbished kiosks on July 16, and Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton will come from Madison to act as keynote speaker. The event is at 4pm at the corner of South Barstow and East Grand. In the past 25 years, South Barstow BID has beautified downtown with items like flowers and holiday decorations, plus helped fund events like Summerfest, International Fall Fest, and Christmastime in the City. It’s suiting that Eau Claire developed the first BID, considering that revitalization efforts likely gave our downtown organization one of the toughest tasks. But their road will hopefully get smoother in the near future, as the group sets its eyes on a massive improvement project slated for 2011 that will create an entirely new streetscape on South Barstow.

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