LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Downtown La Crosse is working its way back from the pandemic, and a new accreditation aims to ensure ongoing economic development. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff explains the significance behind Downtown Mainstreet’s new affiliation.
“The accreditation just reinforces that we are on the right track for a very vibrant downtown,” Downtown Mainstreet Executive Director Terry Bauer said.
Bauer adds the affiliation with Main Street America opens the door to different grants and programs businesses can use for improvements.
“Money is available through these programs that allow our businesses to upgrade and restore and maintain their storefronts, which makes our community look a lot nicer,” Bauer said.
One of the businesses that has been supported by Downtown Mainstreet is Leithold Music, which has been part of downtown La Crosse for over a century.
“Our great-grandfather started the business 130 years ago in downtown La Crosse as a piano tutor,” Co-Owner Abbie Leithold-Gerzema said. “We are just privileged to be able to be part of downtown and continue in this music-making business.”
Leithold-Gerzema says grants through Downtown Mainstreet and other organizations helped keep her business afloat during the pandemic.
She also credits the community for staying loyal to small businesses.
“There were local grants available so we did get some help there, but it was also just the support of our community who really wanted to shop locally and support local businesses, and so we were fortunate that we had a good community,” Leithold-Gerzema expressed.
Bauer says that same community support is helping businesses across the downtown area recover from the pandemic.
“We had a great 2019, COVID hit, we hit a little bump, but we’ve rebounded in 2021 and we hope to continue that growth and resurgence in business,” Bauer added.
Downtown Mainstreet is also evaluated annually by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which works in partnership with Main Street America.
In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.
Main Street America programs generated more than four billion dollars in local reinvestment last year.