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Three Lakes Joins Connect Communities Program to Help with Downtown Revitalization


Between fires in 2019 destroying two businesses and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Three Lakes knows there’s a lot of opportunity for growth.

“We are excited as a downtown group to help build a more vibrant downtown,” said Jacqui Sharpe. Sharpe is the Associate Director for the Three Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the facilitator for the Forward Three Lakes Downtown Working Group.

The groups have spent the last year researching what a more vibrant downtown might look like and how to get there.

In November, Design Wisconsin revealed what opportunities it says are there for the town after months of surveys and feedback from people in the community.

Now, six working break-out of volunteers are trying to figure out how to make those ideas a reality.

The Downtown Working Group is already making progress on some of its goals. Signs will be going up soon to direct people to sites and business around town. It’s also on its way to creating an official 501c3.

“By creating a formal downtown revitalization organization we’re going to be able to a have a board and have a group that is specifically dedicated to that smaller geographic area that both our town board and the chamber have to think bigger than that. It will give us a group that is dedicated specifically to downtown,” said Sharpe.

The towns recent acceptance into the Connect Communities Program will give them more resources to help achieve their goals.

The program is run through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Currently the Chamber is the one signed up for it, but they’ll turn the membership over to the new 501c3 once its formalized.

Sharpe said the Connect Communities Program will help them find grants and funding they likely wouldn’t otherwise.

It will also be an education tool.

“As our group of volunteers come forward, people that are passionate about downtown but don’t necessarily have any background in revitalizing a downtown. They just love Three Lakes and want to see it be successful. So, it will allow our passionate volunteers and our people that are already downtown business owners that are already trying to do their part to be educated in how to do this better,” said Sharpe.

Three Lakes is one of nine new communities accepted into the Connect Communities Program this year.

Downtown Rhinelander, Inc. and Friends of Wabeno were also admitted into the program.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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